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Physiotherapists are people who have learned a health profession and are qualified to practice physiotherapy .


Training as a physiotherapist in 1986
Training of physiotherapists in 2016


In Germany, the masseur and physiotherapist law (MPhG) has been regulating training to become a physiotherapist since 1994 . Until then, the term physiotherapist was common in the old federal states (see physiotherapy ). The MPhG includes a training and examination ordinance that regulates the three-year training in more detail. It currently comprises 2900 hours of theoretical and 1600 hours of practical training. Theoretical lessons only take place in state-approved schools. The practical part is partly completed in school, but for the most part in approved internship facilities. The conclusion is a state examination (exam) with a written, oral and practical part. It is not necessary to write a thesis for a degree.

Up to now Germany had not defined any general academic training for physiotherapy. Since the winter semester 2010 you can study physiotherapy in Bochum at the University of Health (HSG). The FH Aachen has been offering a dual course in physiotherapy since 2011 . The Bernd Blindow Schools offer the acquisition of the advanced technical college entrance qualification, the training and the subsequent Bachelor of Arts degree in medical professions. As in other European countries, a progressive academization of the profession can be expected in Germany. In July 2012, for example, the Science Council recommended that more training in physiotherapy and other health professions be given at universities of applied sciences.


In Austria, the MTD Act (Federal Act on the Regulation of Higher Medical-Technical Services) with the associated training ordinances (FH-MTD-AV) has regulated the occupation and training of physiotherapists since 1992. Since 2006, the training has been transferred to the university system and now takes place in the context of FH Bachelor courses. The course comprises 75% theoretical training, 25% clinical practical training with 180 ECTS and a workload of 4500 hours. As part of the course, two bachelor theses must be written, and the end is a bachelor examination. Unlike in Germany, manual lymph drainage is also part of the training in Austria.

entry requirements

In order to be trained as a physiotherapist in Germany, the entry requirement is at least a secondary school leaving certificate . It is no longer necessary to reach the age of 17. For the combined study of the Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy (FH), the technical college entrance qualification or a completed training as a physiotherapist is required. In addition, good grades in natural science subjects and also in German are desirable.

In Austria and some other countries (e.g. USA, Australia or Sweden) the general higher education entrance qualification (Matura, Abitur) is a prerequisite for admission to the study of physiotherapy. In the course of the Bologna process , a general switch to a university of applied sciences in Europe is to be made by 2010.

Physiotherapists then graduate with the academic title Bachelor of Science .

Duration of training in Germany

The unpaid training to become a physiotherapist takes three to four years in Germany and is carried out at both private and state schools. At the end of the training, a state-recognized exam is taken in Germany. If the student has passed this, he is a "state-approved physiotherapist". In order to become a qualified physiotherapist, you have to complete another year of training (mostly distance learning), but you need a technical college entrance qualification.

Duration of training in Austria

In Austria, training at universities of applied sciences is offered as part of bachelor's degree programs that last 6 semesters (180 ECTS). Upon completion of their studies, the graduates are entitled to exercise the profession and to use the legally regulated professional title “Physiotherapist”. Graduates from a technical college course in physiotherapy are entitled to use their academic degree (BSc).


Alternatively, there is the possibility of studying physiotherapy directly at a technical college. Studies at most of the universities of applied sciences that offer them take 6 to 8 semesters. In countries like Belgium, full training also takes place at universities. The training period there is 8-10 semesters and concludes with at least a master's degree. Further doctoral studies are also possible.

Training subjects

Full-time instruction is given. There are theoretical lessons at the school and practical training in specialist clinics and in suitable rehabilitation facilities.

Due to the permanent increase in healing knowledge and treatment alternatives, the subjects and the learning load are very extensive today. Ultimately, this serves the patient , who thus has a large selection of treatment methods available, which allow them several ways to an individually satisfactory healing success .

Mainly physiotherapeutic diagnosis and examination techniques, massage therapy, hydro, balneo (bathing science), thermo and inhalation therapy, electro, light and radiation therapy, prevention and rehabilitation, movement education and movement and training theory are taught. The theory includes the subjects of anatomy , physiology , special pathology and basic physiotherapeutic techniques. It should be mentioned here that the anatomy of the musculoskeletal system is the central working basis for all physiotherapy. Therefore, a physiotherapist should acquire a very comprehensive knowledge in this area, this is emphasized in the training. The clinical-practical subjects of the training include orthopedics , surgery / traumatology , internal medicine , cardiology , pediatrics , gynecology , neurology , psychiatry and neurosurgery . In addition, special physiotherapeutic techniques such as B. Manual therapy , medical training therapy , manual lymphatic drainage , and neurophysiological techniques such as Bobath, Vojta, PNF or Brunkow taught in parts.

Supplementary training

In addition to the usual training as a physiotherapist, there is also combined training as a physiotherapist and gymnastics teacher, but only at a few training institutions.

Continuing education and training

The development of medicine, the constant feedback from basic research and the permanent further development of treatment methods change the requirements in training and everyday professional life in relatively short periods. Regular training and further education are compulsory. The professional associations (see below), working groups and working groups have a wealth of offers for this. Training courses refresh existing knowledge. They don't always end with an exam, but they do lead to a higher level of acceptance and confidence in most doctors and patients.

In addition, there are further training courses recognized by the health insurance companies that conclude with an examination and then entitle the physiotherapist to bill the remedy learned. These include manual lymphatic drainage , KG device, Bobath concept , Vojta therapy , PNF and manual therapy .

Further training measures almost always end with an examination and lead to higher qualifications. They always contain a complete treatment concept. They can also serve to specialize in a teaching position. The full-time training lasts 3 years. Combined training courses, which also provide a qualification as a gymnastics teacher , last between 3½ and 4½ years.

In Austria, the MTD-CPD certificate was developed to record continuous training and further education activity. At least 100 points must be achieved in 3 years for the exhibition. In terms of lifelong learning and professional development, not only courses, but z. B. also takes into account conference visits, lecturing or writing. The MTD-CPD certificate can be applied for by any professional at Physio Austria, the federal association of physiotherapists in Austria.

Work of physiotherapists

After completing vocational training, there are, for example, opportunities to exercise in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation facilities, physiotherapeutic schools, spa and recreation facilities, fitness studios, social facilities (old people's home, nursing home, mobile care services) and also at sports clubs for professional, therapeutic support for athletes. You can also become self-employed as soon as you have passed the final exam. In Austria, it is possible to practice a freelance profession immediately after obtaining the professional license. The number of employed physiotherapists in Germany rose from 110,542 in 1999 to 176,870 in 2011.

When exercising a profession, teamwork among physiotherapists is required, but also good cooperation with doctors, because the work of the physiotherapist makes sense to complement and support medical therapy.

In accordance with the medical prescription, self-dependent treatment plans are drawn up and implemented. Care is taken to ensure that the damage is not only "repaired", but that the correct sequence of movements as a whole is kept in mind so that injuries do not arise in the first place.

Physiotherapy is practiced by physiotherapists in a variety of ways.

Physiotherapists analyze and interpret pain conditions, sensorimotor dysfunctions and developmental disorders (e.g. hyper- or hypomobility of a joint ) in order to influence them with specific manual and other physiotherapeutic techniques. The primary starting point is the movement system and movement behavior; The goal is to achieve freedom from pain and economic exercise behavior in everyday life or - in the case of irreversible functional disorders - to create compensation options.

Physiotherapists also influence functional disorders of internal organs , improve self-perception and external perception as well as social skills and can also influence psychological performance .

The goals of physiotherapy are also to promote the patient's independence and independence and to activate the organism's self-healing powers; Where the patient's independence cannot be achieved, the physiotherapeutic tasks include instructing relatives (e.g. in pediatrics , geriatrics or in the case of severe neurological disorders).

Fields of activity


Physiotherapists work mainly in hospitals, prevention and rehabilitation clinics, in specialist and physiotherapeutic practices, in old people's homes, rehabilitation centers and in facilities for the integration and care of people with disabilities. They mainly work in treatment rooms, sometimes also in hospital rooms, sports halls, gymnastics rooms or swimming pools. Physiotherapists also treat patients in their homes to a limited extent.

Professional associations

Physiotherapists can have their interests represented by various professional associations. Self-employed and employees usually organize themselves separately. The division into many different associations means that targeted influence on health policy is lost.

General goals are

In Germany there are four federal associations that represent the interests of physiotherapists vis-à-vis payers and politicians.

  • Federal Association of Independent Physiotherapists - IFK e. V.
  • German Association for Physiotherapy (ZVK) e. V.
  • VDB - Physiotherapieverband e. V.
  • Association for the Physiotherapy Professions (VPT) e. V.

In Austria, Physio Austria, the Federal Association of Physiotherapists , is the sole professional interest group and as such is also the contact for politics and interest groups.

Web links

Wiktionary: Physiotherapist  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Apprenticeship and studies in the Bernd Blindow Group
  2. hil / Wissenschaftsrat recommends academization of the health professions. In: . July 16, 2012, accessed February 2, 2015 .
  3. Physiotherapy. Education. In: Retrieved August 29, 2019 .
  4. Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (M.Sc.), Fresenius Idstein University. Retrieved August 29, 2019 .
  5. Information about studying on the website of a university
  6. Employment figures for the occupation physiotherapist application portal with reference to IAB research group professional labor markets
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  8. Federal Association of Physiotherapists