Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

PSIO1021 Principles of Physiotherapy Practice

Module Overview

This module builds on learning objectives achieved from Foundations of Physiotherapy Practice (quadmester 1) and develops the student’s ability to apply knowledge of anatomy and physiology into a physiotherapy assessment. During this process students will be expected to apply their learning and develop an understanding of how to access both subjective and objective information from a patient scenario. This will be achieved through practicing both the patient interview and the manual assessment of all primary joints in the body. This learning will form the foundation of a safe and efficient assessment process for clinical practice and will provide a platform to begin the Clinical Management 1 module (quadmester 3).

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Introduce students to the specific assessment, practical /clinical skills appropriate to simple neuromusculoskeletal, neurological and cardiorespiratory conditions • Develop the students’ clinical reasoning skills relating to physiotherapy management of simple neuromusculoskeletal conditions, neurological and cardiorespiratory conditions • Enable students to gain knowledge of electrotherapeutic modalities used in physiotherapy clinical practice and equip them with an understanding and skills to practice electrotherapeutic modalities in a safe and effective manner. • Provide the students with the basic understanding of the principles of clinical management. Theory and tutorial sessions will enable the student to develop a systematic method for assessment. • Enable students to gain knowledge of current legislation and risk assessment related to moving and handling of loads and people and to select and safely use appropriate moving and handling equipment.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe a systematic method for obtaining the relevant physical, psychological and cultural needs appropriate to the individual patient and perform a standard patient interview.
  • Select and apply appropriate assessment for a given neuromusculoskeletal, neurological or cardiorespiratory case scenario in a safe and effective manner.
  • Demonstrate the process of an appropriate physical assessment for patients with simple neuromusculoskeletal, neurological and cardiorespiratory conditions, and explain how a systematic method is used to form an initial hypothesis, a problem list, treatment plan and realistic goals in partnership with their patients.
  • Recognise the ethical and moral dimensions of physiotherapy, including issues related to informed consent including explanation of treatment options, confirming patient understanding and patient choice.
  • Explain the physiological effects, dangers and contra-indications to the specific modalities studied.
  • Explain the legislation and ergonomically based risk assessment tools used to identify moving and handling needs of clients, safe systems of work and commonly used manual handling techniques to move and handle inanimate loads and people using recognised principles of back care and safe handling practices


Effective clinical reasoning skills are fundamental to physiotherapists’ clinical practice. This module will introduce students to a model of clinical reasoning to enable novice physiotherapy students to work logically through an assessment process. The process enables them to gather the appropriate and pertinent data and make some sense of it to form a provisional diagnosis, problem list and treatment plan applicable to a patient with a simple neuromusculoskeletal, neurological or cardiorespiratory problem. The module will include: • The purpose of assessment in physiotherapy • Patient interview (subjective) – to include severity, irritability and nature of problems that patients may present with; special medical questions to be asked of patients and the setting of patient centred short-term/long-term treatment goals. • Physical examination (objective) – either to an individual body part assessment (peripheral - including observation, as well as palpation of specific passive accessory and physiological movements, the concepts of end-feel and joint resistance, and static muscle testing of the upper and lower limbs) or appropriate simple neurological or cardio-respiratory examination • Electrotherapy (treatment) – selected electrotherapeutic modalities used in physiotherapy clinical practice and equip them with an understanding and the skills to practice electrotherapeutic modalities in a safe and effective manner. • Reasoning of clinical scenarios (theory) – Discussion of the hypothetico-deductive reasoning model widely used by physiotherapists in musculoskeletal field and apply decision making regarding the assessment procedures to be performed to a range of theoretical case studies. This will include current evidence based clinical practice and knowledge of pathological conditions. • Moving and handling procedures - Legislation and risk assessment governing moving and handling procedures; general health and safety and risk assessment with reference to personal and patient/client safety; practical moving and handling principles and guidelines: - Assisting a mobile person in basic transfers and mobility. - Assisting a person with mobility problems, in transfers, and getting up from the floor, following a fall.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures will be used to introduce the scientific principles and theoretical base of the assessment techniques covered and deliver the key information about clinical reasoning. Case studies will be used to develop the students’ ability to analyse the information presented to decide and formulate an appropriate assessment strategy for the case study. Within the sessions small group work, using the case studies as a base, and subsequent plenary discussions and mind mapping will be used to develop the students ability to explore key concepts further. Lectures and group sessions will be followed by practical sessions to develop competency in the safe and effective use of assessment techniques and manual handling procedures. The practical will include demonstrations and links will be made to clinical scenarios. Students will be given directed tasks on pathologies related to the cases and guidance to facilitate further self-directed learning. Students will be expected to present such topics for discussion amongst their peers. E-learning - The unit is supported by Blackboard 6. This can be accessed at . Videostreaming demonstrations of neuromusculoskeletal assessment and treatment techniques are available through the blackboard site.

Preparation for scheduled sessions120
Completion of assessment task5
Practical classes and workshops50
Follow-up work40
Wider reading or practice40
Total study time375

Resources & Reading list

Hengeveld, E and Banks, K. (2013). Maitlands Vertebral Manipulation. 

Churchill Livingstone. (2008). Clinical reasoning in the health professions. 

Hengeveld, E and Banks, K. (2013). Maitlands Peripheral Manipulation. 

Petty, N.J. and Moore, A.P. (2012). Principles of Neuromusculoskeletal Treatment and Management. 

Petty, N.J. and Moore, A.P. (2013). Neuromusculoskeletal Examination & Assessment. 


Low J & Reed A (1999). Electrotherapy Explained. 



Case studies, peer and tutor review of interviews and feedback during practical work


MethodPercentage contribution
Extended Matching Question (EMQ) 25%
Objective Structured Practical Examination (OSPE)  (20 minutes) 75%


MethodPercentage contribution
Extended Matching Question (EMQ) 25%
Objective Structured Practical Examination (OSPE)  (20 minutes) 75%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: External

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.