Allied health professionals (AHP)

Allied health professionals (AHPs) work with people to help them protect and improve their health and well-being. They work with people at different ages. There are twelve professions recognised as allied health professions in Northern Ireland.

What allied health professionals do

Allied health professionals (AHPs) help people:

  • improve movement or mobility
  • overcome visual problems
  • improve nutritional status
  • develop communication skills
  • restore confidence in everyday living skills
  • access specialist housing equipment and assistive technologies

They work with government and non government agencies, charities and in many different areas including hospitals, people’s homes, clinics, surgeries, schools, and early years services.

Physiotherapists

Physiotherapists are experts in body movement. They work to restore movement, mobility and activity, and to prevent illness and injury so that people can be independent and remain in work.

Occupational therapists

Occupational therapists treat and rehabilitate people with physical and mental health conditions. They use specially selected activities to help people who are temporarily or permanently disabled to be as independent as possible.

Speech and language therapists

Speech and language therapists provide services to help children and adults who have difficulty communicating.

They can help you:

  • make speech sounds
  • understand spoken language
  • use language and sounds appropriately

They work with people who have stammers. Therapists also treat people with difficulties feeding, chewing and swallowing.

Dietitians

Dietitians make sure that people with certain conditions are getting the right nutrition from their food. Diet is important in treating:

  • diabetes
  • coeliac disease
  • malnutrition
  • renal disease

Dietitians educate patients about the best food choices to manage their condition and get enough nutrition.

Art therapists

Art therapists use art materials to encourage people’s self-expression and reflection. 

Prosthetists

A prosthetist provides care to people who need an artificial limb or another device to support them in their daily tasks. They can help your recovery if you have difficulty with physical movement.

Orthotists

An orthotist works with doctors to make and fit braces and splints for patients. They custom fit braces for patients with spine or limb injuries and people born with or who develop deformities to the feet, limbs or spine.

Music therapists

Music therapists use music creatively to help people address social, emotional or physical difficulties. They work with children and adults of all ages and social backgrounds in various settings to help them understand inner conflicts through music.

Orthoptists

Orthoptists are specialists in diagnosing, managing and treating conditions relating to eye movement, coordination and vision.

These conditions include:

  • amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • defective binocular/3D vision
  • abnormal eye movements caused by injury or disease
  • diplopia (double vision)
  • strabismus (squint)
  • British and Irish Orthoptic Society

Podiatrists

A podiatrist (also known as a chiropodist) is a specialist who provides medical diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems including:

Radiographers 

There are diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers.

Diagnostic

A diagnostic radiographer use x-ray machines, ultrasound machines and other imaging technology to examine patients. They are responsible for acquiring the image and may interpret the images to diagnose illnesses and injuries. They can contribute towards establishing treatment plans and may also be involved in intervention procedures, for example the removal of kidney stones.

Therapeutic

A therapeutic radiographer treats cancer. They work with clinical oncologists, medical physicists and engineers and are responsible for the planning and delivery of accurate radiotherapy treatments using technical equipment. The accuracy of these are critical to treat the tumour and destroy the diseased tissue, while minimising the amount of exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

Dramatherapist

Dramatherapists offer a safe environment for an individual or group to explore, address and deal with personal and social difficulties such as:

  • grief
  • anxiety
  • personal growth

They use various methods including:

  • stories
  • puppetry
  • improvisation
  • drama and movement

to help you explore past experiences and self-express in a way that might be easier than directly talking. Movement and objects can be also moved expressively without words.

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