Where do we start? When I started writing this I wasn't sure what the actual number would be of types of physiotherapy, and even now, there's still probably more than what I’ve thought of. We often think of physiotherapists as one group who cover all aspects of their profession. However this isn't strictly true, and the same goes for a lot of other medical professionals e.g. doctors, nurses, occupational therapists.

Let’s first talk a bit about training to become a physiotherapist. As Australian and Uk trained physiotherapists, we have been lucky to learn and work in a multitude of physiotherapy settings. We generally learn all aspects of physio, then complete a few years of work across the different sectors. Then, once you've found your true calling, you start to specialise.

If you go to a hospital, there will be physiotherapists in many of the departments. From the trauma and orthopaedic wards to A&E/ED to intensive care and high dependence. There will be a physio covering most departments of the hospital. Before we list the roles a physio can have, we also need to differentiate between adult and children's physiotherapy. Many physios will choose to specialise in either adults or children. There can be a large cross over in some settings such as orthopaedics; however, neurology is a whole different ball game!

1. Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy

The one that we all know. Treating things like neck pain, lower back pain sprained ankles, shoulder 'impingement', and post orthopaedic surgery

2. Sports Physiotherapy

Can be related to MSK physiotherapy but with more of a sports focus. These physios specialise in sports injuries and return to play after injury. They treat things like ACL tears, dislocated shoulders, hamstring tears.

3. Orthopaedic Physiotherapy

Crossed over with both Musculoskeletal and sports but focused more on the inpatient setting. Treated post-op patients after trauma or elective surgeries such as total knee replacements.

4. First Contact Practitioner/ Primary Care Physiotherapy

Specialist physio's working in GP clinics and the emergency department. They cover a broad range of conditions and are specialised in ordering imaging, blood tests and in some cases performing injections.

5. Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy

This specialist area of physiotherapy includes all things gynaecological, urological and obstetric! Back pain in pregnancy, incontinence, prolapse.

7. Neurology Physiotherapy/ Neurophysiotherapy

Another huge area of physiotherapy. You’ll find physio’s working with patients post-stroke, brain injuries, or neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Motor neuron disease.

8. Amputee Physiotherapy

Working in both inpatient and outpatient settings. They treat people with both upper and lower limb amputation. Their rehabilitation is focused on returning people to a normal, functional lifestyle with specific adaptions and equipment to help people. Respiratory physiotherapy - working on the wards and intensive care unit treating patients with COPD, asthma, chest infections and various other conditions affecting the respiratory system.

9. Cardiopulmonary Physiotherapy

Working both in inpatients and Outpatients for people with heart problems. Working to restore or improve cardiac function, including post-op.

10. Paediatric Physiotherapy

Covering babies from a few minutes old to 18-year-olds. This speciality covers most of this list but in children. It's an enormous area of physiotherapy with practitioners further specialising in pediatric neuro physiotherapy or respiratory. They can specialise in scoliosis treatment, complex neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, global development delay.

11. Community Physiotherapy

What it says on the tin. These physiotherapists treat patients in their own homes. They aim to avoid patients being admitted to the hospital or work with patients to complete functional rehabilitation at home.

12. Care of the Elderly/ Geriatric Physiotherapy

Covering patients over 60/65 with conditions relating to ageing. This includes falls, decreased mobility or medically unwell patients who need rehabilitation to return home.

13. Hand therapy - specialist physio's working with everything below the elbow. This can encompass broken bones, burns, deep cuts and tendon injuries.

14. Vestibular/ Vertigo Physiotherapy

treating patients with dizziness, balance disorders and vertigo. These physiotherapists combine a mix of manual therapy and specialist technique with exercise-based rehabilitation to allow patients to return to normal function.

15. Occupational Health Physiotherapy

Often employed by companies to look after their employees' wellbeing. They treat a wide variety of conditions that are also treated by MSK physiotherapists but there is a focus on workplace-related issues such as posture, ergonomics, equipment and lifting. And there we have it, a whistle-stop tour of the types of physiotherapy available - a total of 15! Next time you need physiotherapy, make sure you find someone specialising in the area you need.

Here at The Physio Centre, we specialise in musculoskeletal, sports injuries and orthopaedic physiotherapy.