Information on Allied Health Professionals

Allied health professionals play a very important role in protecting and improving health and well-being. There are twelve unique professions recognised as Allied Health Professions in Northern Ireland. Each is listed below along with a short description of what they do.

What do allied health professionals do?

Allied health professionals (AHPs) work with all age groups to help people to:

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

They work closely 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 movement, from the way we move our backs or limbs, to the way we breathe. Physiotherapists work to restore movement, mobility and activity, and to prevent illness and injury so that people can be as independent as possible 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. This includes making speech sounds, understanding spoken language and the appropriate use of language and sounds.

They also work with people who have a specific difficulty, such as a stammer. Therapists also treat people who have difficulties feeding, chewing and swallowing.

Dietitians

Dietitians make sure that people with certain conditions are getting the right nutrition from the food that they eat. Diet is very important in the treatment of many conditions such as diabetes, coeliac disease, malnutrition, renal disease and some children’s conditions.

Dietitians work to educate patients to make the best food choices to be able to manage their condition and make sure their nutritional needs are met.

Art therapists

Art therapists use art materials to encourage people’s self-expression and reflection. Their overall aim is to enable a client to effect change and growth on a personal level through the use of art materials in a safe and facilitating environment.

Prosthetists

A prosthetist provides care to people who need an artificial limb or another device to support them in their daily tasks. The work of a prosthetist can help the recovery of patients who might otherwise 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 who have spine or limb injuries, as well as those who are born with or develop deformities to the feet, limbs, or spine.

Music therapists

Music therapists use music creatively to help their clients address social, emotional or physical difficulties. They work with children and adults of all ages and social backgrounds and in a variety of settings with the aim of helping clients understand and address such 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) and Strabismus (squint).

Podiatrists

A podiatrist (also known as a chiropodist) is a specialist who provides medical diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems, including, but not limited to sprains and fractures, bunions, heel pain/spurs, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown & fungal toenails, warts, corns and calluses.

Radiographers – Diagnostic and Therapeutic

A diagnostic radiographer use x-ray machines, ultrasound machines and other forms of 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.

A therapeutic radiographer has vital role in the delivery of radiotherapy services for the treatment of cancer. They are the only healthcare professionals qualified to plan and deliver radiotherapy. They work with clinical oncologists, medical physicists and engineers and are responsible for the planning and delivery of accurate radiotherapy treatments using a wide range of 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 and personal growth. They use a variety of interventions with clients, including stories, puppetry, improvisation, drama and movement to allow them to explore their past experiences and express themselves in a way that might be easier than directly talking about it. Movement and objects can be also moved expressively without words.

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