What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a profession under the umbrella of Allied Health Professionals (AHP). Other common professions under the umbrella of AHP are Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, Diagnostic Radiographers, etc. Physiotherapists take on different titles in different countries: in Singapore, we are called physiotherapists. In the US, physical therapists.


Physiotherapists provide services to develop, maintain and restore people’s maximum movement and functional ability.


We can help people at any stage of life, when movement and function are threatened by ageing, injury, diseases, disorders, conditions or environmental factors.

Physiotherapists help people maximise their quality of life, looking at physical, psychological, emotional and social wellbeing. They work in the health spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation.



Physical therapists are qualified and professionally required to:

  • undertake a comprehensive examination/assessment of the patient/client or needs of a client group
  • evaluate the findings from the examination/assessment to make clinical judgments regarding patients/clients
  • formulate a diagnosis, prognosis and plan
  • provide consultation within their expertise and determine when patients/clients need to be referred to another healthcare professional
  • implement a physiotherapist intervention/treatment programme
  • determine the outcomes of any interventions/treatments
  • make recommendations for self-management.


The World Congress of Physical Therapy (WCPT) has developed a comprehensive description of physical therapy.

woman in white cap shirt on stability ball
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Why Choose Physiotherapy?

There are many reasons why physiotherapy should be your choice of care.

In western countries like AustraliaUSA, UK, physiotherapy is usually part of the initial treatment plan. Physiotherapy there is very much at the frontline, that means that it is common for people to connect with a physiotherapist without seeing a doctor first. Why?

  1. Safe
  2. Evidence-based treatment
  3. Results consistently show superiority or similar outcomes against other more costly and risky procedures
  4. Long-lasting results


Is your Physiotherapist registered to work in Singapore?

Physiotherapists need to be registered to practice independently in Singapore. We are regulated by a professional council called the Allied Health Professionals Council (AHPC). It is an offence for anybody to falsely assume the title ‘Physiotherapist’. Newly qualified or foreign Physiotherapists practising in Singapore need to be supervised for a period of time before they can lawfully practice independently.


Can you specialise in a certain area of Physiotherapy?

Newly qualified physiotherapists have the basic skills and knowledge to work with most people. However, some physiotherapists possess additional post-graduate qualifications to specialise in an area within physiotherapy. This makes a difference in finesse of the interview, assessment and management plan. A post-graduate qualified physiotherapist may possess additional knowledge regarding the latest developments within the realm of their speciality. The more common physiotherapy sub-groups, are:

  • Orthopaedic / Musculoskeletal
  • Geriatric
  • Neurology
  • Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
  • Paediatric
  • Women’s Health
  • Oncology
  • Burns

It is also good to clarify that physiotherapists are not ‘specialised’ in only a certain body part, ie a specialist knee physiotherapist. There is no such title. An orthopaedic/musculoskeletal physiotherapist can manage a knee condition as well as a lower back condition, same like how a Neurological Physiotherapist can manage a stroke patient and and spinal cord injured person.


So, how is a physiotherapy session like? What should we expect?

In short, this is what we do:

man wearing black polo shirt and gray pants sitting on white chair
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 1) Interview you about your problems and understand more about you. You may be asked to fill some questionnaires, if relevant.


adult alternative medicine care comfort
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 2) Conduct a suitable physical exam, depending on your condition



 3) Discuss with you regarding the findings and how it links to your problem


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 4) Finally, implement an individualised, treatment plan


Your physiotherapist should be knowledgeable enough to understand how certain lifestyle and work factors, habits and movement can all interact and contribute (to a certain extent) to your problem(s) today. He or she should be able to present to you reliable research studies that support their treatment plan.

How much one benefits from physiotherapy definitely depend on how much you work hand-in-hand with your care provider to find the ways and means to address the issues identified with a realistic and achievable plan. He or she is your guide towards the path of recovery.

If you like to understand more about the current trends in in musculoskeletal physiotherapy, exercise and pain management, why not browse through the many blogposts here?

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