What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy helps restore movement and function to as near normal as possible when someone is affected by injury, illness or by developmental or other disability.

And as a healthcare profession, physiotherapy’s science foundation covers a broad and varied range of work which involves working with people to promote their own health and well being.

What physiotherapists do

Physiotherapists (“physios“) work in a wide variety of health settings such as:

  • intensive care
  • mental illness
  • stroke recovery
  • occupational health
  • care of the elderly

They combine their knowledge, skills and approach to improve a broad range of physical problems associated with different ‘systems’ of the body. In particular they treat:

Do you want to be a physio? Find out more about a career in physiotherapy and degree courses.
  • neuromuscular (brain and nervous system)
  • musculoskeletal (soft tissues, joints and bones)
  • cardiovascular and
  • respiratory systems (heart and lungs and associated physiology).

Have a look at some conditions which physiotherapists often treat within these systems.

Seeing a physio

People are often referred for physiotherapy by doctors or other health and social care professionals. Increasingly, as a result of changes in health care, people are referring themselves directly to physiotherapists without previously seeing any other health care professional.

Physiotherapists work autonomously, most often as a member of a team with other health or social care professionals. They may be employed or self-employed and can work alone. Physiotherapy practice is characterised by reflective behaviour and systematic clinical reasoning, both contributing to and underpinning a problem-solving approach to patient-centred care.

Being a physio

Both becoming and being a physiotherapist is hard work but there is a rich and rewarding varienty of work available to qualified physiotherapists and the opportunities within the profession, both in the UK and internationally are considerable. Find out more about a career in physiotherapy.