In Focus: Physiotherapy as a Career Option

Posted on June 21, 2010 in Alternative Careers

Irfan Mohamed:

Physiotherapy alias physical therapy, one of the fastest-growing allied area of medicine, is the system of treatment of disease and disability using physical exercises. It is the most important rehabilitative service needed in a community and a vital therapeutic supplement of the medical profession, integral to the treatment of most patients.

Physiotherapy helps in optimal functioning of the body. It involves the assessment, maintenance, restoration of the physical function and performance of the body and

is strongly recommended for people with degenerative disorders, the physically challenged, sportspeople and those suffering from arthritis and neurological disorders. It includes heat radiation, water therapy, massages, diathermy, traction and other procedures.

Physiotherapists are as essential as doctors in helping recover and rehabilitate a patient from a state of incapacity, due to genetic defect or the result of an accident or an illness. They must have a thorough knowledge of the human anatomy and the way the bones, muscles and nerves move. Physiotherapists treat a wide range of ailments, so specialization is possible in other clinical areas.

The job of a physiotherapist, which is preventive, restorative and rehabilitative, is challenging but lucrative at the same time. They are qualified to perform a history and physical examination, conduct assessments to determine a diagnosis process, select appropriate physical therapy interventions to treat the dysfunction, and monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Although the work of a physiotherapist may tend to be physically very strenuous as it involves physically lifting and supporting patients, their profession brings with it much satisfaction, since it involves relieving patients of pain and helping them recover from specific physical ailments.


Students with a science background can opt for a career in physiotherapy. To become a practicing physiotherapist or be employed as a professional in a hospital or clinic, one should have a B.Sc. degree.

History of Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy (Physical Therapy) is as old as medicine itself, dating back to Ancient Greece in the era of Hippocrates. Since then, physiotherapy has evolved from simple massage to a complex portfolio of therapies with many specialized applications.

In Ancient Greece circa 460 BC, Hector practiced a physiotherapic technique called “hydrotherapy” – which is Greek for water treatment. Physiotherapists today still employ hydrotherapy, now evolved and adapted specifically to various patient conditions.

After the development of orthopedics in the eighteenth century, machines like the Gymnasticon were developed to treat gout and similar diseases by systematic exercise of the joints.

The earliest documented origins of actual physical therapy as a professional group date back to Per Henrik Ling “Father of Swedish Gymnastics” who founded the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics (RCIG) in 1813 for massage, manipulation, and exercise.

In 1894, the UK recognized physiotherapy as a specialized branch of nursing regulated by a Chartered Society. In the succeeding two decades, formal physiotherapy programs were established in other countries including New Zealand (1913) and the USA (1914).

In the USA, physiotherapy is usually referred to as Physical Therapy. The first record of American physiotherapy was at Walter Reed College and Hospital of Portland, Oregon where nurses with physical education experience worked as “reconstruction aides”. These “reconstruction aides” contributed vitally to the recovery and rehabilitation of many WWI vets. The field has been growing ever since.

Colleges in India

India offers a wide range of colleges of over 80 colleges that offer Physiotherapy as a Bachelor’s as well as Master’s degree. Medical Colleges as well as dedicated Physio colleges deliver world class courses. Visit

Scope in India

Employment opportunities for physiotherapists are tremendous as it is a career where the demand exceeds supply. A physiotherapist could be employed in the rehabilitation departments, municipal corporations and private bodies.

Salary and Payroll

The pay that a Physiotherapist gets varies widely depending on the degree that he holds and the type of job structure he commands. The Indian range of pay is as shown.
Popular Industries Salary Range

Hospital Rs 83,133 – Rs 140,119
Healthcare Rs 68,754 – Rs 205,363
Physical Therapy Rs 105,349 – Rs 306,361
Fitness Club Rs 64,159 – Rs 109,235
Health Clinic Rs 79,578 – Rs 136,678

The payscale is not impressive as compared to the opportunities available abroad, but the Indian demand is large and price revisions are not likely to affect the market requirement.