Physiotherapist Courses and Classes Overview

A physiotherapist, also known as a physical therapist, helps treat patients who have chronic health conditions that cause pain and problems with movement. Courses for this profession are taken as part of a professional doctoral program.

Essential Information

Programs for aspiring physiotherapists are offered at the doctoral level at 4-year institutions. The most common program is the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). During the program, students get clinical training at a lab and complete full-time supervised clerkships or internships that take several weeks each. Graduates can participate in a clinical residency if they want to pursue a specialty.

Aspiring physiotherapists need to pass their state's licensure exam and meet other requirements that vary by state. Clinical specialty certification is also available from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

Here are common topics covered in physiotherapist courses:

  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Standards of care
  • Patient assessment
  • Prosthetics
  • Reflexes
  • Therapy techniques

List of Courses

Gross Human Anatomy Course

Gross anatomy courses cover the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems of the human body, focusing on the functional and structural relationships between organs, tissues and joints. Specific areas of the body studied include tendons, muscles, spine, sensory systems and internal organs. Students attend lectures and discussions. In many programs, students complete a lab where they dissect a cadaver. This course is taken early on in the physical therapy degree program.

Pharmacology in Physical Therapy

The focus of this course is on how different classes of pharmaceuticals affect human the biochemistry and physiology of neural synapses and neurotransmitters. Classes of drugs studied include anticholinergic drugs, anticonvulsants, catecholarmines and antidepressants. Students learn about possible side effects and ways in which certain drugs may or may not be useful to a patient.

Psychosocial Aspects of Physical Therapy Course

This advanced course in physical therapy addresses the psychological issues which may arise with a patient facing illness or injury. Students are asked to perform self-assessments with regard to conflict management styles, communication styles, personal values and response to stress. Emphasis is on the issues which may arise during physical therapy, death and dying, addiction, sexuality, family and other areas among patients from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.

Clinical Research Course

This course introduces students to basic concepts in clinical research for physical therapy and functions as a guided preparation for the student's own research. Areas covered include hypothesis testing, literature review, data collection techniques and results analysis. Students read scholarly literature in the areas of personal interest to come up with ideas for their own research projects.


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