What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapists work with the body, movement and function. They treat people of all ages, and often work in conjunction with other healthcare professionals. Physiotherapists also undertake health-promoting and preventive work with individuals and groups, and at a societal level.

Various types of physiotherapy 

Physiotherapists use different methods and exercises to treat you. They also provide you with information and guidance.

There are different types of physiotherapy, such as

  • physiotherapy for children and young people
  • physiotherapy for elderly people
  • physiotherapy for women
  • sports physiotherapy
  • equestrian physiotherapy
  • psychomotor physiotherapy
  • manual therapy

You can also get physiotherapy for various conditions, such as

  • cancer
  • neurological conditions
  • orthopaedic issues
  • rheumatological conditions
  • heart and lung diseases
  • musculoskeletal injuries, diseases and issues

Physiotherapists are authorised healthcare professionals, and are able to offer assessment and treatment independently.

How to access physiotherapy services

You don’t need a referral to see a physiotherapist.

There are two ways to receive physiotherapy. The first is to consult a physiotherapist who has an operating agreement with your municipality. The other is to consult an independent physiotherapist. Both provide the same treatment, but differ in terms of how you pay for the service.

If a physiotherapist has an operating agreement with your municipality, you will pay nothing if you are aged under 16, or you have a recognised occupational injury.

You also do not have to pay anything for preventive and health-promoting physiotherapy at a health centre or school health service. You may have to pay a user fee if you receive treatment in groups. 

If you receive treatment from a physiotherapist without an operating agreement, you must pay for your treatment yourself.

Municipalities are required to offer physiotherapy services. These may be physiotherapists employed by the municipality, and/or physiotherapists with operating agreements. They can provide treatment at home if needed.

Physiotherapists with operating agreements usually provide treatment at physiotherapy institutes. Nursing homes must also have a physiotherapy programme.  

Where can you get treatment from a physiotherapist?

There are a number of places where you can get treatment from a physiotherapist.

Municipal healthcare service

Rehabilitation institutions

Physiotherapists are an important part of an interdisciplinary rehabilitation programme. At rehabilitation institutions, physiotherapists work together with other professional groups.

Physiotherapists contribute their expertise when a patient’s functional issues are assessed. They also contribute exercises to improve functionality levels. 

Schools, health centres and kindergartens 

Children who develop differently to others, and who have various diseases or injuries, need physiotherapy. Physiotherapists work in collaboration with parents, public health nurses, kindergartens and schools. The goal is to help children and young people, so that they can take part in play and everyday life.

Nursing and retirement homes 

Physiotherapists can help residents stay active and participate in everyday situations. Physiotherapists work with other staff members to help residents get along as best as possible.

Home-based services

In home-based services, physiotherapists undertake both preventive and rehabilitation work. Physiotherapists work with everyday rehabilitation, with a focus on training, function and staying independent.

Specialist healthcare services

Physiotherapists can work in hospitals and/or in private rehabilitation institutions. In hospitals, physiotherapists can assist during acute stages of illness, after serious illness or after surgery.

In psychiatry, physiotherapists work holistically with the body and emotions. Physiotherapy can take the form of individual examination and treatment, or it can be a part of a group programme.

When offering working-life oriented rehabilitation at private institutions, physiotherapists can provide training and support clients through lifestyle changes in order to function in their working lives. 

Working life 

Businesses and organisations may employ physiotherapists who work with mapping and risk assessment, as well as counselling, raising awareness and facilitating a health-promoting working environment.

Other venues

Physiotherapists can offer services in Healthy Life Centres and in Learning and Mastery Centres. Physiotherapists may also run their own private services aimed at businesses/working lives to promote healthy living.

Physiotherapists help people with functional impairments to stay in work, and to have the best possible functional ability.