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BIOL126 Human Biology 2 AND ANAT102 Physiotherapy Anatomy 2

Unit rationale, description and aim

Knowledge and application of neuroscience is fundamental to physiotherapy practice. It underpins comprehension of normal human movement, nervous system dysfunction, neural recovery and provides the basis for rehabilitation strategies. In this unit students will build on their knowledge of the anatomy and biology of the nervous system to understand dysfunction and the implications for movement. Relevance to physiotherapy will be highlighted, including the practical application of selected physiotherapy assessments. The assessment and management of people experiencing acute and chronic pain will be introduced as an exemplar of neural function and dysfunction. Referring to conceptual frameworks such as the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), while integrating this information, is optimal practice to ensure people with health needs are treated with dignity and respect, with a focus on participation to reach their full human potential. The overall aim of this unit is to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and application of neuroscience, with reference to conceptual frameworks, to support practice as a physiotherapist.

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 - Define neuroscience, and describe the major functions and/or subdivisions of the peripheral and central nervous systems relevant to human movement (GA5; GA8);

LO2 - Assimilate knowledge of neuroscience to explain the clinical presentation and course of diseases affecting the nervous system, and processes for neural recovery relevant to physiotherapy practice (GA5; GA8); 

LO3 - Discuss the conceptual frameworks of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and the biopsychosocial model of disability as approaches to person-centred care (GA1; GA5);

LO4 - Apply knowledge of neuroscience and conceptual frameworks to justify physiotherapy assessment and intervention for people with health conditions; including performing selected assessment skills; (GA1; GA4; GA5; GA8);

LO5 - Design and evaluate the physiotherapy assessment of, and management for people with pain, including the role of education (GA1; GA4; GA5; GA8).

Graduate attributes

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

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 


Topics will include: 


  • The definition of neuroscience  
  • Neuroscience as a foundation for understanding normal human movement. 
  • The major functions and/or subdivisions of the peripheral and central nervous systems, including the spinal cord, cerebral cortex, brainstem, cranial nerves, diencephalon, basal ganglia, cerebellum, and special senses. 
  • Clinical presentation and course of diseases (pathophysiology) affecting the nervous system relevant to physiotherapy practice including: 
  • Lower motor neuron and upper motor neuron lesions 
  • Multiple sclerosis and disorders of transmission, muscle and nerve 
  • Spinal cord injuries 
  • Stroke and other acquired brain injuries 
  • Parkinson’s Disease and other movement disorders 
  • Vestibular dysfunction 
  • Processes of neural recovery and principles of neuroplasticity 

 Conceptual Frameworks of health and disease 

  • The conceptual framework to approach person-centred care and its application to select clinical presentations 
  • The conceptual frameworks of International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and the biopsychosocial model of disability  

 Relevance to Physiotherapy Practice 

  • The application of neuroscience, including pathophysiology and neuroplasticity to inform physiotherapy assessment and interventions for people with health conditions 
  • The integration of conceptual frameworks of health to physiotherapy intervention planning to facilitate dignity and respect for the person and maximising participation 
  • Physiotherapy assessment procedures including assessment of the cranial nerves, special senses, coordination, somatosensation and the motor system 


  • Peripheral, spinal and brain mechanisms of pain processing and modulation 
  • The concept of acute and chronic pain 
  • Application of the biopsychosocial model to understanding the pain experience 
  • Physiotherapy assessment and management of pain, including the role of education making clear the relevance of neuroscience and models of healthcare 

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, online modules and directed independent learning activities. Practical and tutorial classes provide students with the opportunity consolidate theoretical knowledge, to develop their clinical reasoning skills through the use of case studies and, communication and assessment 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

The assessment tasks align with the presentation of the content in this unit of study and students should learn while, as well from, undertaking these tasks. This unit takes an authentic assessment approach allowing students to demonstrate their learning and competency for clinically relevant scenarios. The assessment items are sequential, constructive and inter-linked, with a progressive development requiring higher level performance as the semester progresses. 

Assessment task 1 (mid-semester written examination) and Assessment task 3 (end-semester written examination) require students to demonstrate the acquisition, assimilation and application of knowledge to clinically relevant scenarios. Assessment task 3 requires students to apply this knowledge to more complex scenarios. Assessment task 2 (practical examination) requires students to assimilate and apply theoretical knowledge and perform clinical practice assessment skills of cranial nerve and sensorimotor functions to demonstrate emerging their professional competence.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment task 1: Mid-semester written examination 

Requires students to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge and understanding of the implications of neuroscience for physiotherapy practice. 

45 mins


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA4, GA5, GA8 

Assessment task 2: End-semester practical examination 

Requires students to demonstrate competency in professional behaviour, clinical reasoning and the ability to perform sensorimotor testing including testing cranial nerve testing on a peer. 

10 min 



GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Assessment task 3: End-semester written examination 

Requires students to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge and understanding of the implications of neuroscience for physiotherapy practice. 

2 hr


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Bear, M.F., Connors, B.W., & Paradiso, M.A. (2007). Neuroscience: Exploring the brain, (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 

Crossman, A.R., & Neary, D. (2010). Neuroanatomy: An illustrated colour text (4th ed.). Edinburgh, New York: Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone 

Kandel, E.R., Schwartz, J.H., &, Jessell, T.M. (2000). Principles of neural science (4th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill. 

Kiernan, J.A. (2009). Barr’s the human nervous system: An anatomical viewpoint (9th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott – Raven. 

Lennon, S., & Stokes, M. (2009). Pocketbook of neurological physiotherapy. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 

Lundy-Ekman, L. (2007). Neuroscience: Fundamentals for rehabilitation (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company. 

Martini, F.H., Nath, J.L., & Bartholomew, E.F. (2012). Fundamentals of anatomy and physiology (9th ed.). Boston, Benjamin Cummings. 

Turlough Fitzgerald, M.J., Gruener, G., & Mtui, E. (2012). Clinical neuroanatomy and neuroscience (6th ed.). Elsevier Saunders 

Waxman, S.G. (2010). Clinical neuroanatomy (16th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill 

World Health Organization (WHO) (2001). International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)  

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