About physiotherapy

What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is the use of movement techniques to improve healing and function. This is supplemented, where necessary, by massage, exercise prescription, electrotherapy and other physical and supportive measures. A physiotherapist’s management of a person’s condition is based on a thorough assessment and clinical reasoning.

Physiotherapists also counsel and educate the people in order to prevent injuries, disease and disorders. They aim to improve or restore a person’s level of function and independence.

Scope of practice

Physiotherapists are involved in a wide variety of fields such as orthopaedics, sport, cardiopulmonary, intensive care, paediatrics, neurology, geriatrics, urology and gynaecology.

Education and training

Physiotherapists in South Africa undergo an intensive 4 year university degree. As from 2003, physiotherapists are required to complete a year of community service prior to final registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Master and Professor of Science in Physiotherapy degrees are offered at some of our universities.

In an effort to maintain high standards of service, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) requires physiotherapists to earn continuing education units on a regular basis. These units are attained by attending accredited tutorials, lectures, courses, seminars and congresses. At present the HCPSA does not recognise physiotherapists as specialists in different fields of practise but some physiotherapists have chosen to concentrate on specific areas of interest, and have developed their professional competence in these certain fields.

The South African Society of Physiotherapy (SASP) has 14 special interest groups. The Orthopaedic Manipulative Physiotherapy, Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Sports Physiotherapy and Neurological Rehabilitation Physiotherapy Groups offer an extensive 1 year postgraduate certificated course.