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Physiotherapy is a preventive and remedial procedure that is very often used as a supplement with oral medicines. Besides, physiotherapy helps in optimal functioning of the body. It is therefore specially recommended for the physically challenged, sportspersons, persons with degenerative disorders and those afflicted with arthritis, spondylosis, neurological dysfunctions and so on.

Physiotherapy or physical therapy is basically a form of treatment using physical exercises. Physiotherapy could also include heat radiation, water therapy, massages, diathermy, traction and other procedures. It is a science that seeks to alleviate movement disorder.


Physiotherapy is a result of the Second World War. During the Second World War, when a large number of soldiers and civilians suffered injuries, the need for putting them back on health track became imperative. The number of injured persons was so large that acute shortage of medicines was felt. The situation gave rise to a new science of healing, now known as ‘Physiotherapy’. Physiotherapy is the cheapest treatment without drugs. In short, it is the science of treatment of disease by exercise, massage, heat, light, electricity or other physical agencies. Use of drugs in this form of therapy is avoided. When required, it can be administered from the neonatal to the geriatric stage.

Now, physiotherapists are graduates, post-graduates and even PhDs, specialising in different disciplines of physiotherapy.


Scope in the field of physiotherapy is very large. It is estimated that about 10% of the population of the world is suffering from physical disability in one way or the other. In India, many people are becoming physically disabled because of ignorance of preventive therapy and lack of professionals like physiotherapists.

Physiotherapy has major role in diagnosis, preventive and prognosis of many disorders like paralysis, orthopedic conditions, arthritis and joint diseases, cardio/respiratory disorders, electron physiological analysis from child hood to old age diseases.

According to WHO's norm, every 10,000 population may need at least one but according to one report, there are only about 5,000 physiotherapists in India. As there is a lot of brain drain from India in many popular sciences, physiotherapists is also have no exception. Most of the people qualified in India are leaving to foreign countries as there is very great demand in eastern and western countries.

Vacancies abroad

A recent survey published in one of the American magazines shows that United States of America alone needs more then 44,000 physiotherapists. The same survey also recalls that amongst the most sought after professionals physiotherapist stands third. In Europe and gulf countries also there are thousands of vacancies in the field of physiotherapy.

Academic interest

Since physiotherapy is an upcoming profession both in services as well as academically it has a large opportunity for higher studies like graduation, post graduation and doctoral. It is no dream that with in a few years, in India, a number of Ph.d's would come up in this field. Also it has a lot of specialization and super specialization studies in ortho, neuro etc. Of late, a new course in physiotherapy called electrotherapy is in the process of taking shape.

Job Prospects and Returns

With a study showing that the requirement number of physiotherapists is one for every 10,000 persons, job opportunities is a simple calculation, given the population of India.

In western countries too, there is a great demand for physiotherapists.

Opportunities exist in rehabilitation departments of government and private hospitals, medical rehabilitation centres, health institutions and defence medical centres. With the demand for physiotherapists increasing every day, one may also opt for private practice.

The difference in monetary returns for employed professionals and private practitioners is phenomenal. The difference also is that one needs to make a lot of investment in terms of space, some basic equipment and so on. The real satisfaction or returns lie in participating and helping a fellow human being. Teaching is yet another option open to those who have specialised in physiotherapy.


To become a practising physiotherapist or be employed as a professional in a hospital or clinic, one needs to have completed a B. Sc. or a diploma in physiotherapy. Students who have completed seventeen years of age and have the plus two examination with science subjects (physics, chemistry and biology) and English are eligible for the degree or diploma course.


India had only 10 colleges in 1984 providing courses in physiotherapy. At present there are around 100 such colleges. There are many institutes that offer short-term courses (of three to four months’ duration) in physiotherapy. However, the Indian Association of Physical Therapists recognises only eighteen of them.

There are three year degree and diploma courses offered by reputed universities and institutes. For instance, the National Institute for Rehabilitation Training and Research in Cuttack conducts a three and a half year degree course, including a six-month internship.

The National Institute for the Orthopaedically Handicapped in Calcutta offers a three-year diploma course. The Institute of the Physically Handicapped ( New Delhi) also offers a three-year diploma course. Admissions to most of these courses are based on a joint entrance examination conducted by the Rehabilitation Council of India in New Delhi.

There are many centres, spread across the country, from where aspiring candidates may appear for the examination. The centres include New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhubaneshwar, Dehradun, Guwahati, Allahabad and Hyderabad. Some other institutes are listed below:

  • National Institute for Rehabilitation Training and Research, Cuttack
  • University of Madras
  • School of Physiotherapy ( SSG Hospital), Baroda
  • Christian Medical College, Vellore 
  • National Institute for the Orthopaedically Handicapped, Calcutta
  • Govt. Medical College , Nagpur
  • The National Institute for Rehabilitation Training and Research, Cuttack
  • School of Physiotherapy, Nagpur
  • G.S. Seth Medical College , Mumbai
  • All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mumbai
  • Institute of the Physically Handicapped, New Delhi
  • S.M.S. Medical College, Jaipur
  • Aligarh Muslim University, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Occupational Therapy Training School, Mumbai 
  • J.K. College of Nursing & Paramedicals, Coimbatore

Course content

The course content includes anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, psychology, medical and surgical conditions and topics related to therapeutic application, biomechanics, kineseology, disability prevention, rehabilitation and so on. Practical sessions are held during the second and third years of study. During the internship period, students work under the supervision of professionals at various hospitals and institutions.

A physiotherapist may specialise in sports medicine, cardiac therapy, paediatric therapy and geriatric therapy.

Personal Attributes

For one seriously contemplating physiotherapy as a professional option, he first needs to have a positive attitude to life and possess oodles of confidence.

He should be able to instill confidence and motivate patients to positively contribute to his/her recovery or rehabilitation. Needless to say, he also needs to have an interest in medicine, science and an empathetic attitude to people.

Other attributes include strength of mind, a firm and persuasive bent of mind, good observation power and ability to work in a team. Last but not the least, he should be fit and in good health, for the job sometimes involves physically lifting a patient or supporting him/her and could prove to be strenuous initially, although with experience one learns to handle patients without straining oneself.

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