What Are Paramedical Practitioners and How Can they Help
Explaining the benefits of paramedicine and what’s included in the field, besides massage therapy
Many Canadians supplement their medical care with paramedical treatments—therapies that may not be covered by the public health system. Fortunately, many of these therapies are now recognized by medical insurance plans. Here’s what you need to know.
Services included in the paramedical field
Common therapies include massage, chiropractic care, osteopathy, podiatry, acupuncture, naturopathy, physiotherapy and counselling.
Massage techniques can be used to release pain and tension in muscles, while chiropractic care treats the musculoskeletal system (typically through a spinal adjustment of the affected joint or tissue) and osteopathy involves physical manipulation of muscle tissue and bones. Podiatry specifically treats the foot, ankle and lower leg.
Acupuncture treats discomfort and pain by stimulating nerves, muscles and connective tissue with tiny needles inserted into the skin. Naturopathic medicine focuses on natural medicine and embraces many of these modalities, including massage and acupuncture. Physiotherapy can help those with injuries through movement and exercise, while counselling helps people talk through emotional problems.
The benefits of paramedical services
Paramedical practitioners deal with both acute and chronic conditions, as well as preventive medicine. Overall, paramedicine can help reduce pain and boost serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone. This is helpful for seniors in particular, says Andrew Lewarne, executive director of the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario. This approach can help patients with developing health issues such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, as well as physical symptoms related to mental distress. By removing dysfunction and pain, this ultimately helps to improve quality of life.
How paramedical practitioners are regulated
Most paramedical practitioners are accredited through a provincial governing body. Accredited massage therapists, for example, receive the registered massage therapist (RMT) designation. You can see a public register of RMTs in Ontario on the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario website or go to RMTfind.com to search for one in your neighbourhood.
Other paramedical practitioners may be regulated in some provinces but not others. Acupuncturists are regulated in most provinces, including Ontario, but not all of them. (Look for the CAFCI or ACC designation from Acupuncture Canada.)
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