The importance of physiotherapy – part 1

In our last article we took a general look at some of the different ways we can look after our bodies.  In this article we’re going to take a more detailed look at one way in particular, namely physiotherapy.

As we mentioned last time, physiotherapy can help to restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability.  It takes a holistic approach, that involves the patient directly in their own care.

We thought that it might be interesting to begin with a brief look at its history, before moving on to discuss how it has involved and the ways in which it can help.


The earliest documented use of the term was in 1813 in Sweden, when Per Henrik Ling (known as “The Father of Swedish Gymnastics”) founded the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics for “massage, manipulation, and exercise”.  The term “physiotherapist” stemmed from “physical therapist” (in Swedish sjukgymnast or “sick gymnast”).

It took 74 years for Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare to recognise and register physiotherapists, and soon after the U.K., New Zealand the U.S.A. followed suit.

As more and more countries began to use the technique, treatments evolved to cover an ever greater range of injuries and disabilities.  The First World War proved to be a significant milestone in physiotherapy’s development, with large numbers of wounded soldiers being treated.

In 1976 the first degree course in physiotherapy was established, the technique now clearly being seen as well-established and of serious medical significance, and in 1978 physiotherapists were finally permitted to treat patients without prior medical referral.   In 1992 the profession became an all graduate entry profession – clearly a long way from its beginnings.

What is physiotherapy, exactly?

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) defines it rather elegantly as “helping to restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability.”

Physiotherapists achieve this through a variety of methods, including movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice.  It’s important to note that they take a “whole person” approach to health and wellbeing, incorporating the patient’s general lifestyle.

At the core of physiotherapy is the patient’s full involvement in their own care, through education, awareness, empowerment and participation in their individual treatment.

What conditions can physiotherapy help with?

Physios use their skills and knowledge to help patients with a range of conditions associated with different systems of the body, including:

  • neurological (e.g. strokes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s)
  • neuromusculoskeletal (e.g. back pain, arthritis, sports injuries)
  • cardiovascular (e.g. rehabilitation after a heart attack)
  • respiratory (e.g. asthma, cystic fibrosis)

Click here to learn more about how our Clinic can help and what our physiotherapists can treat.

Next time

We’ll go into more detail on physiotherapy, including an in depth look at the full range of conditions that can be helped, before covering other services in future articles.

If you would like more general information on who we are and what we do, please click the link below:

London Physiotherapy Clinic