September 8th 2023: World Physiotherapy Day

Established in 1996, the day aims to raise awareness of this important profession, with numerous events taking place worldwide

It has been 72 years since the establishment of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy – also known as World Physiotherapy (WP) – in Copenhagen on 8th September 1951. Therefore, it is no coincidence that World Physiotherapy Day is celebrated today. Established in 1996, its goal is to promote the physiotherapy profession by informing citizens about the countless potentialities of this therapeutic field.

A bit of history

The “therapy of the body” (literally!) has its origins in ancient times. There are testimonies of massage practices dating back to the time of the Egyptians, and in 480 B.C., Hippocrates recognized the utility of manipulative techniques and hydrotherapy for his patients.

However, if we refer to physiotherapy as rehabilitative therapy in a modern sense, we must take a step forward to the 19th century and mention the Frenchman Clément Joseph Tissot, who introduced gymnastics for orthopaedic rehabilitation, and the Swede Pehr Henrik Ling, the father of “Swedish gymnastics” as a method to train muscles and, at the same time, improve balance and posture.

The 20th century marked the progressive and steady recognition of physiotherapy. It was introduced in the 1950s in hospitals and orthopaedic and geriatric healthcare centres, and by the end of the century, it was enhanced by technological advancements in machinery that complemented manual rehabilitation techniques.

It was in 1994 that the figure of the physiotherapist was regulated by Ministerial Decree 741, defining the role as a “healthcare professional, holding a university diploma, who independently or in collaboration with other healthcare professionals carries out interventions in the areas of mobility, higher cortical functions and visceral functions resulting from pathological events of various etiologies, congenital or acquired”.

Since 2018, physiotherapists who want to practise their profession must be registered in their professional category.

Theme of the year

Every year, WP chooses a theme to focus on. For 2023, the theme is osteoarthritis and the role of physiotherapy in combating it. Arthritis is a joint inflammation, which can be acute or chronic. Often associated with old age, it can actually affect children, adults and athletes as well. The main signs are pain, stiffness and swelling, which can reduce mobility and lead to secondary symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

However, with the right treatment and good habits, those suffering from arthritis can lead a good quality of life. Physiotherapists can be invaluable in this regard, as they can design personalised programmes based on tailored exercises, techniques for managing pain, and adapting daily and domestic activities to individual capabilities.

Events worldwide

World Physiotherapy Day is celebrated on September 8th and aims to raise awareness of the international theme chosen by the World Confederation for Physical Therapy or address related topics in this field.

This year, UniCamillus has been invited to two events organised by the OFI – Lazio’s Board of Physiotherapists.

The first event took place on 7th September at 3pm at La Sapienza University of Rome, and it was titled “The Association meets the students”. It involved all physiotherapy students from the Lazio region (including those from our University’s three-year BSc Physiotherapy) and focused on the attractiveness and future prospects of the physiotherapy profession, including technology, research and postgraduate education.

The second event takes place today, 8th September, at 9am at the Mechelli Hall of the Lazio Regional Council, with the title “Physiotherapy in all places of life”. In this case, the audience includes the Presidents and Programme Directors of the Physiotherapy degree programmes of Lazio. Among the UniCamillus faculty, Professor Cosimo Tudisco and Ms Alessandra Carlizza have been invited.

A rewarding profession

In addition to the gratitude of their patients, physiotherapists also enjoy a relatively quick job placement after graduation. According to the latest Almalaurea data, over 80% of graduates work as physiotherapists within a year of obtaining their degree, with a strong presence of those under 40 and nearly 30,000 active professionals.

The UniCamillus’ BSc Physiotherapy pays attention to both aspects of this valuable profession. In addition to theoretical and practical sessions, humanities and psychoeducational subjects are included to teach students not only which therapy to use on patients but also how to approach, encourage and support them emotionally in their daily lives.

Moreover, lectures in English allow UniCamillus graduates to work abroad and improve their English proficiency.

We are living in a time when stress is prevalent, increasing the risk of physical injuries. Also, thanks to advances in medicine, the average lifespan has increased, and the number of elderly individuals is growing. In these and countless other cases, the physiotherapist plays a fundamental role in taking a holistic and natural approach to health. September 8th is a day to reaffirm that attention to one’s well-being is never too much.