Putting The Fizz Into Physio

Last updated: November 3, 2011

Putting The Fizz Into Physio

I read Fiona Reddan’s article When is a physio not a physio (Irish Times, Nov 1st) with interest though it may not have fully represented the similarities between the two leading bodies in the Irish muscular skeletal healthcare sector; physiotherapists and physical therapists. 

The regulating body for physiotherapists in Ireland is the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) and the regulator of physical therapists is the Irish Association of Physical Therapists (IAPT).  Both are long-established voluntary organisations representing their respective members and both operate on a non-statutory basis.  Currently, minimum entry requirements for both are an internationally recognised, 3-year, full-time degree.  Both organisations stipulate a minimum number of CPD hours for ongoing membership.  In each case the public can direct complaints to the respective governing bodies who are empowered to take appropriate disciplinary action.  Private health insurers offer similar levels of cover for both approaches. 

Some – a small number - of practitioners, who are not educated to degree level and consequently would not qualify for membership of either body, misrepresent themselves in the workplace as either ‘physiotherapists’ or ‘physical therapists’.  For some years, physiotherapists have claimed to have a ‘large file’ of this kind of misrepresentation but presumably it does not involve members of the professional body – the IAPT -  as no evidence to this effect has been produced.  It is worth stating that physical therapist members of the IAPT have an impeccable record of service in the community, now stretching from the 80’s. 

What differences there are revolve around the fact that physical therapists specialise in private practise whereupon their education and training is totally focused.  They come to the profession as mature students to provide a patient-centred approach using their unique “hands-on healthcare” and as such have established themselves as worthy and effective healthcare providers.  Only the largest representative organisation from each country can join the World Congress of Physical Therapists and in this case the honour falls to physiotherapists.  A recognised degree is not mandatory for membership and member countries refuse to recognise each other. 

Physical therapists work alongside and respect other healthcare professionals.  For many years the training body for physical therapists in Ireland – the Institute of Physical Therapy, has offered to fund a joint programme under the auspices of the Department of Health and Children explaining the differences between both approaches.  This would ensure that the public continues to have access to both physiotherapy and physical therapy, can choose either with knowledge and confidence and enjoy the benefits of competition in what is otherwise an often-sheltered environment. 

By John O’SullivanComments: 2 Leave a comment  Categories: Physical Therapist, Physical Therapy, Physiotherapy

Comments (2)

Was a very interesting article to read,  slightly bias in my opinion which is unfortunate and to vague in many areas.  Hope to share your blog and possibly help clear up some misperceptions.

By Lynda Potts at 11:45 on 03 November 2011

I read the piece in the times and found that the author worded her piece in such a way that any potential clients would run a mile from Physical Therapists.
It saddens me to think that a so called professional organisation tries at every moment to put down other professional health care workers. Yes it is true that there are non goverened health care workers out there and the public should be aware of this anomaly.
As a member of the IAPT my govering body, I can only say that the training I recieved, the on-going CPD and self development as a practicioner, the 100% client centered approach applied by all registered Physical Therapists ensures that the public can be safe in the knowledge that their well being is our number one goal.
So well done on your balanced and fair response and I hope that this is made known to the general public.

By Damien Sherlock at 14:07 on 03 November 2011

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