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Physiotherapy is a health profession that seeks to restore mobility and reduce the pain that results from injuries, aging, or illness. Physiotherapy also works to prevent such problems. Therapists use different techniques depending on the problem and the physio’s area of expertise. For example, a sports physio creates unique exercise and rehabilitation programmes to match the sport in question.


The Royal College of Surgeons, Trinity College, UCD, and UL offer Degrees in Physiotherapy. Only graduates of these courses can become recognised members of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP).

Physiotherapy students take a wide range of medical science subjects, including Human Anatomy, Biomechanics & Movement, Physiology, Electrotherapy, and Neurology as well as academic subjects such as Physiotherapy Theory & Context, Research Methods (with an eye towards a final year research project), and Health, Illness & Society. Students spend a great deal of time on clinical placements in a professional physiotherapy environment. This usually takes place in a hospital and sees students gaining experience of a variety of applications; for example, paediatrics, disability, musculoskeletal conditions, and respiratory cases.

There are some closely related and highly interesting degrees. These include DCU’s BSc in Athletic Therapy and Training) and Sports Rehabilitation & Athletic Therapy at Carlow and Athlone ITs. These courses prepare students for a career in the world of sports injuries and performance, specialising in the prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries across all ages, standards of sporting ability, and population type. They differ from physiotherapists in that they specialise in musculoskeletal injuries arising from physical activity.

A discipline that is closely related to physiotherapy but which does not require a degree to practice is that of sports therapy. Students of Level 5 Certificates in Sports Therapy learn how to massage, create exercise and fitness programmes, provide diet and nutritional advice, apply first aid, and more. Potential careers include physiotherapy assistants, physical educators, and sport injury therapists. Graduates may also secure roles in the leisure industry.

The Work

People with physiotherapy qualifications work in public and private hospitals, within private practices, sporting organisations, education, industry, and within the Health Service Executive. Graduates can also work abroad as ISCP membership has global recognition.

Physiotherapists assist people whose movement is restricted. They diagnose a patient’s problem before deciding upon the best course of treatment. The recovery process may involve several processes: exercise, movement, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, or manipulation. Examples of patients treated by physiotherapists include amputees, children with disabilities, stroke victims, and people injured in car crashes or playing sports.

Neurological physiotherapists treat patients whose movement difficulties stem from neurological conditions such as strokes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, or other forms of paralysis.

Sports physiotherapists work with people who are returning from sports injuries. They devise programmes that help professional and amateur athletes to get back into peak condition. They can also work with sports coaches to devise training programmes that can help injury prevention.

Other specialisations include respiratory physiotherapy for patients with lung ailments. All physiotherapists work closely with other health professionals such as doctors, nurses, radiographers and other therapists.

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Further Resources

Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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