types of specializations in physiotherapy

Physiotherapist specializations

Physiotherapists are medical professionals that probably have the largest choice of specializations of all medical professionals. 

Our profession is indispensable in every stage and branch of medicine and medical recovery of the patient, and for this reason, the choice of specialization is so large and extensive.

The job of a physiotherapist can be extremely fun and diverse, but in order to be the best in it, it is necessary to focus precisely on certain specialization.

In order to make it easier for colleagues who are at the beginning of their careers and are not sure in which direction to direct their career as a physiotherapist, we have decided to write this blog in which we bring you an overview and description of the most common specializations. 

The most common and most popular specializations of physiotherapists are:

  1. Sports physiotherapy
  2. Orthopedic physiotherapy
  3. Neurological physiotherapy
  4. Pediatric physiotherapy
  5. Vestibular rehabilitation
  6. Geriatric specialization
  7. Women's health 
  8. Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation
 
There are many other specializations in the field of physiotherapy, but in this blog, we have decided to write only about the most common ones so that you know more precisely where to focus after reading this blog post. 
Physiotherapists
Sports physiotherapist

1. Sports physiotherapy

Sports physiotherapists work with top athletes and recreationists and their goal is primarily to prevent and secondary to treat injuries in order to return the athlete/recreationist as soon as possible to the training process. 

Conditions that are treated in sports physiotherapy are:

 
Therapeutic procedures used by sports physiotherapists are:
 
 Place of work for a physiotherapist:
  • sports clubs
  • sports clinics
  • fitness centers 
  • private clinics
  • private practices 

2. Orthopedic physiotherapy

The most common and globally popular specialization of physiotherapists is certainly orthopedic physiotherapy. 

Orthopedic physiotherapist deal with the treatment of diseases of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. 

The conditions that are treated in orthopedic physiotherapy are:

  • arthritis
  • arthrosis
  • installation of TEP of the hip
  • installation of TEP of the knee
  • bone fractures 
  • muscle rupture 
  • sprain of the joint
  • tendonitis
 
Therapeutic procedures used by orthopedic physiotherapists are:
 
Place of work for a physiotherapist:
  • hospitals
  • orthopedic departments
  • orthopedic clinics
  • policlinics 
  • health centers
  • private clinics
  • private practices
 
 
Orthopedic physiotherapy
Neurological rehabilitation

3. Neurological physiotherapy

Neurological specialization is by far one of the most demanding and unfortunately most ungrateful specializations in the field of physical therapy and medicine. 

As you could probably already see through practice during college or school, with neurological patients it is extremely difficult to work and the results are unfortunately not always visible. 

In order to steer in this direction it is necessary to have a lot of willpower and patience in order to succeed in helping your patient in the long term and to get the desired results of therapy. 

Conditions that are treated in neurological physiotherapy are:

  • condition after stroke
  • condition after brain hemorrhage 
  • brain injury
  • spinal cord injuries 
  • multiple sclerosis
  • cerebral palsy 
  • Lupus 
  • Parkinson's disease
 
Therapeutic procedures used by neurological physiotherapists are:
  • Bobath
  • Wojta
  • PNF
  • balance exercises
  • coordination exercises
 
Place of work for a physiotherapist:
  • hospitals
  • neurological departments
  • neurology clinic
  • policlinics 
  • health centers
  • private clinics
  • private practices

4. Pediatric physiotherapy

Pediatric physiotherapy is a direction in which you work exclusively with children and treat physical conditions and disorders of children. If you love children and love helping children this is the ideal specialization for you. 

Pediatric physiotherapy includes treating all patients up to 18 years of age. 

Conditions that are treated in pediatric physiotherapy are:

  • developmental delay
  • cerebral palsy 
  • cystic fibrosis
  • brain injury 
  • scoliosis
 
Therapeutic procedures used by pediatric physiotherapists are:
  • Bobath
  • Wojta
  • Schroth
Place of work for a physiotherapist:
  • hospitals
  • pediatric departments
  • pediatric clinic
  • pediatric outpatient clinic 
  • health centers
  • private clinics
  • private practices
  • schools
  • home visits
 
Pediatric physiotherapy
Vestibular rehabilitation

5. Vestibular rehabilitation

Many patients suffer from dizziness, which consequently causes them problems with balance. It is estimated that about 42% of the U.S. population suffers from vertigo at some point in their lives. 

This problem is not only unpleasant but can also lead to patient falling that poses a risk for other diseases and injuries to the musculoskeletal system. 

In this specialization of physical therapy, your job is to create a special training program of exercises that are designed to improve balance and reduce dizziness. Most of the exercises performed by the patient involve movements of the head and the neck. 

Conditions that are treated in vestibular physiotherapy are:

  • vertigo
 
Therapeutic procedures used by vestibular physiotherapists are:
  • specific tests and exercises that help vertigo
 
Place of work for a physiotherapist:
  • hospitals
  • clinics for vestibular rehabilitation
  • private practices

6. Geriatric specialization

The geriatric specialization of physical therapy is rapidly growing and more and more physiotherapists are needed in this specialization due to the general aging of the world population. 

Physiotherapists in this area work with older patients to reduce pain, increase mobility and generally improve their quality of life.

Conditions treated in geriatric physiotherapy are:

  • arthritis
  • arthrosis
  • osteoporosis
  • bone fractures 
  • various pain syndromes
  • conditions after joint replacements
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Alzheimer's disease 
 
Therapeutic procedures used by geriatric physiotherapists are:
  • mobility exercises 
  • strength exercises
  • walking training
  • fitness training 
  • heating and cooling procedures
  • manual therapy 
 
Place of work for a physiotherapist:
  • nursing homes
  • hospitals
  • palliative departments 
  • health centers
  • private practices
  • home visits
 
 
 
Geriatric physiotherapy
Pregnant exercise

7. Women's health

Physiotherapists may also specialize in women's health.

Such specialization refers to the treatment of women in different specific stages of life and various conditions affecting exclusively women. 

Conditions that are treated specifically in women are:

  • condition during and after pregnancy
  • pelvic pain
  • lymphedema
  • condition after surgical breast removal 
  • osteoporosis (more often affects women)
 
Therapeutic procedures used for women's health are:
  • lymph drainage 
  • pelvic muscle exercises 
  • mobility exercises 
  • strength exercises 
  • manual therapy 
 
Place of work for a physiotherapist:
  • hospitals
  • gynecological departments
  • maternity hospital 
  • specialized clinics
  • private practices 

 

 

8. Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation

Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation is usually specific to hospital work. More specifically for work in the pulmonology and cardiology department. Given the increasing number of heart and lung diseases among the general population, this specialization will be more and more needed in the future.

The emphasis in this type of rehabilitation is on breathing exercises in pulmonary and fitness exercises in cardiovascular rehabilitation. 

Conditions that are treated in cardiovascular and pulmonary physiotherapy are:

  • heart attack
  • heart disease
  • hypertension
  • COPD
  • cystic fibrosis
  • sarcoidosis
 
 Therapeutic procedures used by physiotherapists are:
  • breathing exercises
  • fitness training
  • endurance exercises
  • patient education
 
Place of work for a physiotherapist:
  • hospitals
  • Department of Pulmonology
  • Department of Cardiology 
  • policlinics 
  • health center
Cardiovascular rehabilitation
Exclamation point

Choose a specialization and start educating yourself in this direction!

No matter which specialization you choose, it is important that when you choose it, you firmly stick to that specialization and educate yourself specifically for it. 

Physiotherapists who are educated in all directions end up being average on their own, instead of being elite in just one specialization. 

As we mentioned in the introduction, our profession is extremely complex and it is difficult enough to treat patients with high-quality therapy from only one specialization. Given all of the above, we do not see the point of spreading into 3 or 4 specializations because this usually leads to mediocrity. 

Bsc. PT. Toni Marić

Bsc. PT. Toni Marić

Toni is bacc. physical therapist and the owner of the Ad Sacrum clinic who has been treating top athletes for years and also teaches at the Dry needling courses for physiotherapists.

Physioverse academy is an organization that deals with professional development and organization of high-quality education and courses in the field of physical therapy, manual therapy, medicine, kinesiology, and biomechanics.  

Some of the experts that we teach within our organization are:

  • Physiotherapists
  • Physiotherapy students
  • Medical doctors
  • Kinesiologists
  • Manual therapists
  • Sports coaches
  • Fitness trainers
  • Athletes
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