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What exactly is Physiotherapy?

What exactly IS physiotherapy?

Having worked as a Chartered Physiotherapist for over 30 years and working in a clinic that has been in existence for more than 35 years, I should be well placed to answer this, but it’s quite difficult to encompass everything that us physios do in the course of our working day/week.

Let’s take this week – in my clinical role I have:

  • Advised a young ballet dancer on improving hip strength via exercising
  • Seriously encouraged and physically worked hard on improving knee range in someone who had a recent knee replacement operation
  • Guided on final stage rehabilitation of an Achilles problem in preparation for a marathon
  • Counselled and advised someone who’s pain from a back injury was overwhelming their life – giving practical steps forward
  • Liaised with local GP about a patient whose symptoms of headache concerned me
  • Got a stonemason back to work after an upper back strain through manual therapy and postural advice
  • Sent a patient with an acute back injury direct to A&E for further assessment and imaging
  • Celebrated with a patient whose rotator cuff shoulder injury is now improved sufficiently to allow them to return to horse riding and pushed their rehab further

And this is just a sample of my own clinical list without the specialities that my colleagues add such as:

 Orthopaedic rehabilitation

Fitting braces

Treatment for neurological conditions

Treatment for continence and gynae problems

Orthotic advice for footwear

What do our staff say?

I asked our excellent team at Ashbourne and Hilton Physio Centres what words they would use to encompass what we do at our clinics and here’s a word cloud of their key words:

What do our patients say?

we have the honour of working with some patients over many years as they have come back to us with different problems at different points in their life and we love being a part of the local community when we treat friends, family and colleagues that they send our way too.  We really value our patient’s feedback on our services and their experience of coming to our clinics.

Some of the comments from our recent patient feedback survey are written below and the full report can be found here Patient-Survey-Form-Sept-2021.pdf (

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Definition

 Physiotherapists help people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement and exercise manual therapy education and advice.  They maintain health for people of all ages, helping patients to manage pain and prevent disease.  The profession helps to encourage development and facilitate recovery, enabling people to stay in work while helping them remain independent for as long as possible.

Definition from the NHS website

Physiotherapy helps to restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury illness or disability.  It can also help to reduce your risk of injury or illness in the future.

World Physiotherapy Definition

A health care profession concerned with human function.  It is concerned with identifying and maximising quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation.  It uses physical approaches to promote, maintain and restore physical psychological and social well-being, taking into account variations in health status.  It is science-based, committed to extending, applying, evaluation and reviewing the evidence that underpins and informs its practice and delivery. The exercise of clinical judgement and informed interpretation is at its core.

My definition of what I do as a physiotherapist might look something like this:

Our USPs (unique selling points) as a profession in my eyes have always been:

Patient centred – individual to that patient at that time

Evidence based – backed up by credible research and the medical profession

Hands on – we get stuck in and help facilitate movement where things have got stiff and guide strengthening exercises where things have got weak.

Enabling – giving the patient as much control in their healing as possible working with the patient to problem solve for their lifestyle

At Ashbourne and Hilton Physio Centre our aim is ‘to decrease your pain and work with you to help you reach your full potential whatever your lifestyle’.

Our Ashbourne Clinic

Clinic (3)

Our Hilton Clinic


If you are looking to find a physio in your area then a great place to start is the either is either your local NHS clinic or ‘find a physio’ Physio First | Find a Physio and make sure they are on the HCPC register by checking their name and location here The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) | (

Only Physiotherapists with a degree or equivalent in Physiotherapy are legally able to use the term physiotherapy/physiotherapist/physical therapy and anyone using these terms without being registered with the HCPC should be reported to the HCPC.  This register gives confidence that the person you are seeing has a level of competency recognised by a professional body – you might then want to check what further experience they have had and whether they have an interest in a certain type of physio/approach/area of the body.  And then of course there is that all important rapport that can never be underestimated – we don’t all ‘click’ with everyone on the planet and you’ll need to have full confidence and trust in your therapist – this is where working in a team can be really beneficial, visit our ‘team’ page to learn a little more about each of our therapists.

The Team – Ashbourne Physiotherapy and Sports Injuries CentreAshbourne Physiotherapy and Sports Injuries Centre

So physiotherapy is not something that is easy to pin down in a couple of sentences, but it makes for a fascinating and rewarding work life that makes a difference to people’s lives every day and I can’t imagine ever doing anything else.

As we reinvent our website over the coming months we will be trying to pin down what makes physio and our clinic what it is and deliver that in a concise and accessible way – wish us luck and keep your eyes peeled for the results – we’d love to hear your views.

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