Physiotherapy: Art vs Science?


November 4, 2015

I can remember back in my early days of physio school one of lecturers (Neil Tuddle) asking at Griffith University, ‘Is physiotherapy an art or science’? I thought at the time what a strange question to ask and what relevance does this have to me learning the skills of being a good physio. Looking back now, I couldn’t have been more wrong and I am glad he did ask that question.

Over the years I have thought about it and even though there was no intended answer, I think I have the answer that our lecturer was looking for us naïve students to think about. For me I now know, physiotherapy is both a science and an art. Whilst physiotherapy is founded on the basis of evidence based practice and supported with thorough scientific method, the execution or the delivery of it is an art.

Prominent researchers in the field of evidence based practice, Sackett et al., liken the above to a three-pronged stool. The stool symbolizing the service you get provided through evidence practice. Each leg is a component of it. The first leg is: What is the science behind what the clinician is doing? The second leg is: What do you as a clinician expect and the final leg is: What skill-set can the clinician offer?

The relevance of this as a client and a consumer is that you deserve to be getting the best quality care on offer and if what you are currently getting doesn’t fit this picture you deserve better.

Ben is an Australian Physiotherapy Association Sports Physiotherapist who works part-time on the ATP World Tour. He treats from 1/3 Hepner Place, North Geelong. For appointments, please call ph. (03)5772151