Career in physiotherapy

As one of the fastest-growing professions in the world, physiotherapy offers a range of exciting options for those interested in the field

January 28, 2023 10:49 pm | Updated 10:49 pm IST

 Physiotherapy covers the entire spectrum of prevention, management and rehabilitation.

 Physiotherapy covers the entire spectrum of prevention, management and rehabilitation. | Photo Credit: Freepik

Physiotherapy, or Physical Therapy as it is referred to in some countries, is an exciting and one of the fastest-growing professions in the field of healthcare with an estimated compound annual growth rate of 5.44% (from 2022 to 2026). Set to become a $6 billion market, it was institutionalised starting in the 1900s, as training for ‘reconstruction aids’ to help wounded and injured soldiers. Today, Physiotherapists are recognised as ‘Movement Scientists’ and clinicians practising autonomously, specialising in different areas and the profession has grown both vertically and horizontally.

With the need for expert Physiotherapy in every sector, and the discipline being an important and integral part of the healthcare system globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates a requirement of one physiotherapist for every 10,000 citizens. A National Council (supported by State Councils) was established recently to ensure the standards and quality of education and practice.

Eligibility

After Class 12, students of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology can opt for an undergraduate programme in Physiotherapy. The Bachelor of Physiotherapy (B.PT.) in India is a four-year programme followed by six months of rotatory internship. It provides comprehensive knowledge about the human body, including neuromusculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, exercise physiology, and the management of various disease conditions and injuries. The institutes that offer Physiotherapy programmes have to be members of and the courses have to be recognised by the Indian Association of Physiotherapists. Some colleges offer a diploma but this is not recognised by the Association.

After graduation, students who want to pursue a Master’s can opt for specialisations such as cardiology, neurology, orthopaedics, sports, women’s health, paediatrics, and community health. The most popular are neuro-physiotherapy and ortho-physiotherapy. Since it is a skill-based discipline, there are certificate courses for different techniques such as Neuro-Developmental Therapy (NDT).

Within the discipline of Physiotherapy, there are specific specialisations and professions. Physiotherapists now treat and manage many musculoskeletal and neurological conditions such as Vestibular Rehabilitation and Balance, and Coordination for the elderly. It also has applications in sports and fitness. With relatively newer specialisations such as Pelvic Floor or Women’s Health being added, the scope of practice has also grown.

Expansion

The profession has also expanded its focus beyond patient rehabilitation after an ailment or injury. It now covers the entire spectrum of prevention, management and rehabilitation. In India, the stellar performance of athletes in the international arena is a reflection of not only the growing facilities available for sports but also the improved training and performance protocols to which physiotherapists also contribute. There is also increased awareness of complete rehabilitation. As a result, the physiotherapist’s role also involves determining modifications to the home environment in the case of long-term conditions or spinal cord injuries.

With research and technological innovation, many new and exciting gadgets like exoskeletons, standing wheelchairs, bionic arms, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) rehab devices offer an exciting future in rehabilitation programmes. This not only is proving to bring better patient outcomes but also is improving the physios’ understanding of the conditions better.

The writer is is PT Director, GITAM School of Physiotherapy

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