Name: Chung Po-kuen Age: 39 Occupation: Physiotherapist Young Post: Are physiotherapists required to register in Hong Kong? Chung: Yes, we are under the regulation of the Physiotherapists Board and a local ordinance. There is also a specific code of practice for physiotherapists. Not observing the code can lead to disciplinary action by the Board. There are about 2,400 registered physiotherapists in Hong Kong now. Most of them work in public and private hospitals. Some work in elderly centres and out-patient clinics. YP: What do physiotherapists do? C: Physiotherapy refers to the use of physical means for medical and health care. For example, we use exercise, heat treatment, ultra-sound therapy, infra-red therapy or magnetic therapy to rehabilitate patients. We first assess the level of trauma of each patient and then design therapy for them according to their specific situation. For instance, stroke patients may be partly paralysed so we help them practise limb movement. And for those with broken legs, say caused by a car accident, we might design walking lessons for them. We aim to relieve patients' pain and improve their range of motion and muscle strength. YP: What challenges do physiotherapists face? C: Sometimes you have to spend a lot of time and effort to win the trust of your patients and make them follow your instructions. Some of them, especially the elderly, think you do not understand the pain they are suffering. They complain that therapy is tiring and they doubt whether it's effective. When I first joined the industry I often got upset with rude and critical patients. But as I gained more experience, I began to understand them and became more tolerant. They need to release their emotions because of the trauma they have suffered. Actually, I am very close with some of my patients - we're like family. They may need therapy every day so we see a lot of each other. Unfortunately, some of them have passed away, which makes me very sad. YP: What made you want to become a physiotherapist? C: I studied science in secondary school and I was especially interested in biology. I decided to further my studies in a related field so I chose physiotherapy. I get a great sense of satisfaction from my job. Seeing my patients improve and recover makes me very happy. YP: What does it take to be a good physiotherapist? C: Love and care are very important. Patients can feel whether you are sincere. Also, technically you have to be very careful because you could hurt them. YP: What are the prospects for physiotherapists in Hong Kong? C: The prospects are pretty good. As the population ages, the demand for physiotherapists will grow. Moreover, people are more concerned about health and fitness centres are becoming very popular. Some physiotherapists work as trainers in these centres.