What is Physiotherapy

Physiotherapists Can Provide Treatment 

Physiotherapists are licensed healthcare professionals who work autonomously and collaboratively alongside physicians and healthcare teams. With a patient-centred approach, physiotherapists use evidence-informed knowledge of rehabilitation sciences, anatomy, kinesiology and physiology to assess, treat, and manage pain, injuries, movement dysfunction, and chronic conditions. The goal of physiotherapy is to empower, promote independence and improve the quality of life for British Columbians across all ages and abilities. 

Physiotherapists (or physical therapists) will work with you to put together a treatment plan, for your condition or injury, so you can get back to enjoying life and the activities you love.

Physiotherapists work with clients of all ages and with a wide range of health conditions. Whether it’s pain management and rehabilitation from an acute injury like a sprained ankle or management of chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, a physiotherapist can help.

A physiotherapist also provides education and treatments aimed at health promotion and disease and injury prevention.

Read what inspires our member physios here.

Where do Physiotherapists Work?

Physiotherapists work in a broad range of settings providing client and/or population health interventions and management, educational, research and consultation services.

Physiotherapy can be accessed in the community at private clinics and through home-care services. Physiotherapy services are often affiliated with retirement residences and child development centres. Suppose you're admitted to the hospital for surgery, such as a joint replacement or heart surgery. In this case, chances are likely that a physiotherapist would be an essential member of your healthcare team. Learn more about how you can access physiotherapy services by visiting Access, Fees, and Coverage for Physiotherapy.

How do Physiotherapists Make Assessments?

A physiotherapist will assess you using detailed history-taking and specific physical tests and measures, such as flexibility or range of motion. They will then analyze the assessment findings and use clinical reasoning to establish a diagnosis. Together, you will explore your current abilities and functional needs so the physiotherapist can plan treatments consistent with your goals and general health status. They will do this by incorporating approaches and techniques supported by the best evidence available.


Physiotherapy Treatments can Include:

  • Personalized exercise programs designed to improve your strength, range of motion, and function
  • Massage
  • Joint mobilization and manipulation to reduce pain and stiffness
  • Hot and cold packs and modalities to relieve pain, reduce swelling, speed up the healing process, improve movement and function
  • Airway-clearance methods to assist people with breathing difficulties
  • Skin and wound care
  • Management of incontinence including pelvic floor re-education
  • Functional activity and tolerance testing
  • Work and occupational re-training and return to work planning
  • Prescription, fabrication and application of assistive, adaptive, supportive and protective devices and equipment
  • Environmental change, focusing on removing barriers to function