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Service designJan 11, 2021

Physios around the world lacked safety equipment as Covid-19 spread last year

The scale of the problems facing physiotherapists around the world last year as they tried to respond to Covid-19 in a safe fashion has been highlighted in a report by World Physiotherapy.

Releasing the results of a survey today, World Physiotherapy said almost two thirds of respondents (63 per cent) reported challenges in accessing personal protective equipment – particularly from March to June 2020.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Information from members helps World Physiotherapy to 'provide ongoing support'


World Physiotherapy, which is based in London, conducts a census every year in a bid to gain insights into the global profile of the profession. In 2020, it also asked members how the pandemic had affected physiotherapy practice and the governance of their organisations.

Last year’s census date was 30 June, with 111 of the 122 member organisations that existed at the time issuing a response. World Physiotherapy said the 91 per cent response rate reflected the ‘strong engagement’ of member organisations.

Growing in strength

Since the census was conducted, the Dominican Association of Physical Therapists, the Palestinian General Syndicate for Physical Therapy and the Vietnam Physical Therapy Association have joined the body.

Other key census findings

 • 86 per cent said Covid-19 had affected physiotherapy practice, particularly from March to June

 • 57 per cent said their membership had increased

 • 27 per cent of respondents said people could directly refer themselves to a physiotherapist, both in public health systems and in private practice

 • globally, two physiotherapists in three are women (63 per cent) – men form the majority in just 14 per cent of member organisations

 • three quarters of respondents (75 per cent) said physiotherapists can provide telehealth


The responses to the surveys from our member organisations are critical to the capacity of world physiotherapy to provide ongoing support [Jonathon Kruger]

Jonathon Kruger, the Australia-born physio who is World Physiotherapy’s chief executive officer, said: ‘The responses to the surveys from our member organisations are critical to the capacity of world physiotherapy to provide ongoing support.

‘This year the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on our entire community. The data that has been provided is being further analysed and we will be reporting separately on this later this year.’

To see a series of profile maps that have been developed from the responses to the annual membership census, visit: https://world.physio/membership/profession-profile

Comments from the Peruvian Association of Physiotherapy included: ‘When we joined World Physiotherapy at the beginning of 2020 nobody could have predicted the challenges caused by Covid-19. All the more we have appreciated being a part of a global community dealing with the pandemic.'

Comments from the Polish Chamber of Physiotherapists included: ‘We participated in the global #PPE4PT action organised by World Physiotherapy and we welcomed the organisation’s support when advocating for telehealth in Poland. It was a real privilege for us to represent world physiotherapy in the WHO-FIC network.’

World Physiotherapy – formerly known as the World Confederation for Physical Therapy – represents more than 660,000 physiotherapists from member organisations in 125 countries.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy was one of 11 national associations that founded what was initially a confederation in 1951.

For more information, visit: www.world.physio


Author: Ian A McMillan
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