Credit points


Campus offering

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PHTY103 Foundations of Physiotherapy Practice 2

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Physiotherapists work with people presenting with neuromusculoskeletal disorders of the lower limb. This requires the ability to formulate a problem list, and develop, implement, evaluate and progress an intervention program which is efficient, effective, culturally responsive, evidence-based and person-centred. In this unit students will build on the knowledge acquired, and clinical reasoning skills developed in year 1 units (specifically clinical measurement, biomechanics of movement and exercise prescription). Students will gain new knowledge in the assessment and management of neuromusculoskeletal conditions of the lower limb across the lifespan as well as the medical and physiotherapy management of lower limb orthopaedic conditions following trauma or elective orthopaedic surgery. The overall aim for the unit is to prepare students for professional practice in the area of musculoskeletal physiotherapy.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Apply knowledge of musculoskeletal physiology and pathophysiology, and movement science to inform and justify a safe, effective, person-centred physiotherapy management plan (assessment, intervention, evaluation and progression) (GA1; GA4; GA5; GA8)

LO2 - Adapt and perform an interview (GA1; GA5; GA9)

LO3 - Select, and safely and effectively apply and interpret, measurement and testing procedures to assess a person presenting with a neuromusculoskeletal disorder of the lower limb, and to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of a physiotherapy management (GA1; GA3; GA4; GA5; GA8)

LO4 - Select, modify, and safely and effectively apply, physiotherapy interventions for a person presenting with a neuromusculoskeletal disorder of the lower limb (GA1; GA3; GA4; GA5; GA9)

LO5 - Accurately document a physiotherapy management plan (GA5; GA9). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 

Pathology of lower limb 

Fractures and arthroplasties 

Fractures of lower limb 

Pathology and healing of fractures 

Principles of management including physiotherapy management 

Complications of immobility, trauma and fractures 

Manual handling 

Overuse injuries 



Muscle strains 

Neural mechanosensitivity disorders 


Medical imaging 


Physiotherapy assessment 

Subjective examination of lower limb disorders  

Physical examination of lower limb disorders  

Muscle strength and length 

Movement pattern assessment 

Range of motion 

Joint stability and integrity 

Identification of contraindications to physiotherapy intervention 

Modification of a physiotherapy assessment to accommodate cultural, social and ethical considerations 


Physiotherapy interventions 

Exercise therapy 

Principles of exercise and evidence for exercise prescription across the lifespan 

Functionally specific exercise 

Slings, springs, weights, pulleys and theraband 

Principles of exercising in water 

Principles of individual education 

Biofeedback techniques 

Contraindications and precautions 


Manual therapy 

Mobilisation and manipulation techniques 

Massage and other soft tissue techniques 

Neurodynamic techniques 


Electrophysical agents (EPA) 

Introduction to the use of electrophysical agents in musculoskeletal physiotherapy practice 


Taping and bracing 

Advice and education 

Modification of physiotherapy interventions to accommodate cultural, social and ethical considerations 


Outcome measures 

Pain assessment 

Functional limitation assessment  

Range of motion 

Muscle strength 

Movement patterns 

Evaluate effectiveness and efficiency of physiotherapy interventions 

Modification of application of outcome measures to accommodate cultural, social and ethical considerations 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of learning with a combination of face-to-face, online and other directed independent learning activities.   


The theoretical knowledge underpinning assessment and intervention will be delivered via lectures and online modules. Practical classes provide students with the opportunity to develop their clinical reasoning skills through the use of case studies and, communication, assessment and treatment skills through simulation learning activities.   


Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities, demonstrating respect for the individual as an independent learner. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Accurate and adequate documentation is a legal requirement for health care professionals. Assessment task 1 (hurdle) requires students to document in a written form a patient interview, physical examination, and the rationale for physiotherapy assessment and treatment plans using accepted notation. Students will add to the portfolio over the semester. This task assesses a foundation skill relevant for subsequent physiotherapy practice academic and clinical units.  Assessment tasks 2-4 align with the presentation of the content in this unit of study.  This unit takes an authentic assessment approach allowing students to demonstrate their learning and competency for clinically relevant scenarios. Assessment tasks 2 and 3 (practical examinations) require students to assimilate and apply theoretical knowledge, and perform clinical practice skills, in order to demonstrate their emerging professional competence in the areas of assessment and treatment of people with neuromusculoskeletal conditions of the lower limb. Assessment task 3 (written examination) requires students to demonstrate acquired theoretical knowledge and assimilate and apply this knowledge to clinically relevant case scenarios. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment task 1: Documentation portfolio 

Enables students to demonstrate the ability to document in a written form, the planning for, and outcomes of, assessments and treatments for common knee, hip and ankle conditions.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA3, GA4, GA8, GA9 

Assessment task 2: Mid-semester practical examination: 

Enables students to demonstrate competency in professional behaviour, clinical reasoning and the ability to undertake appropriate assessment and treatment techniques on a peer for conditions covered in the first half of the semester. 

15 min 


LO1, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA9

Assessment task 3: End-semester practical examination: 

Enables students to demonstrate competency in professional behaviour, clinical reasoning and the ability to undertake appropriate assessment and treatment techniques on a peer for conditions covered in the second half of semester. 

15 min 


LO1, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA9

Assessment task 4: End-semester written examination:  

Enables students to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge and understanding of the implications for physiotherapy practice for neuromusculoskeletal disorders of the lower limb and, to articulate the rationale for assessment and intervention choices for clinically relevant case scenarios. 

2 hr 


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Brukner, P., & Khan, K. (2016). Clinical sports medicine (5th ed.). Sydney McGraw Hill Co. 

Constantinou, M., & Brown, M. (2010). Therapeutic taping for musculoskeletal conditions. Sydney Chatswood: Elsevier.  

Hattam, P., & Smeatham, A. (2010). Special tests in musculoskeletal examination: An evidence-based guide for clinicians. Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone. 

Hengeveld, E., & Banks, K. (2013). Maitland’s peripheral manipulation. (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann. 

Keleher, M., & MacDougall, C. (2009). Understanding health: a determinants approach (2nd ed.).  South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press. 

McKinnis, L.E. (2010). Fundamentals of musculoskeletal imaging. (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis. (Available as full text Electronic Resource)  

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