Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


Occupational Therapy: OTHY102 Musculoskeletal Structure and Function for Occupational Therapy , OR Physiotherapy: BIOL126 Human Biology 2 AND ANAT102 Physiotherapy Anatomy 2 , OR Speech Pathology: SPHY102 Anatomy and Physiology for Speech Pathology


Physiotherapy: PHTY209 Neuroscience for Physiotherapy

Occupational Therapy: OTHY200 Neuroscience, Neurodevelopment

Speech Pathology: SPHY200 Neuroscience Speech Pathology

Unit rationale, description and aim

Allied Health professionals require knowledge of neuroscience to understand normal human functioning, nervous system dysfunction and neural recovery. This provides the basis for rehabilitation strategies. In this unit, students will study the structure and function of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Students will use this knowledge to understand the impact of neurological dysfunction and the subsequent effects of neuroplasticity for clients with neurological conditions. The aim of this unit is to enable students to develop a solid foundation in neuroscience knowledge for the application to discipline specific professional practice.   

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 - Describe in detail the normal structure and function of the central and peripheral nervous  systems. (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9) 

LO2 - Assimilate knowledge of neuroscience to explain the clinical presentation of nervous system dysfunction. (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9) 

LO3 - Apply principles of neural adaptation to the assessment, treatment and management of neurological conditions. (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9) 

LO4 - Demonstrate effective interprofessional working relationships to improve collaboration and quality of care. (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9) 

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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

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

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018 

The Allied Health professional program requires the development of attributes for accreditation purposes. These are also included in the Learning Outcomes.  

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018 developed within this unit are: 

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1 - Professionalism  

An occupational therapist practices in an ethical, safe, lawful and accountable manner, supporting client health and wellbeing through occupation and consideration of the person and their environment.  

An occupational therapist:  

1.1 complies with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia’s standards, guidelines and Code of conduct 

1.3 maintains professional boundaries in all client and professional relationships 

1.5 practises in a culturally responsive and culturally safe manner, with particular respect to culturally diverse client groups 

1.7 collaborates and consults ethically and responsibly for effective client-centred and interprofessional practice 

1.8 adheres to all work health and safety, and quality requirements for practice 

1.14 manages resources, time and workload accountably and effectively 

1.15 recognises and manages her/his own physical and mental health for safe, professional practice 

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

Standard 2 - Knowledge and learning  

An occupational therapist’s knowledge, skills and behaviours in practice are informed by relevant and contemporary theory, practice knowledge and evidence, and are maintained and developed by ongoing professional development and learning.  

An occupational therapist:  

2.1 applies current and evidence-informed knowledge of occupational therapy and other appropriate and relevant theory in practice 

2.2 applies theory and frameworks of occupation to professional practice and decision- making 

2.8 reflects on practice to inform current and future reasoning and decision-making and the integration of theory and evidence into practice 

2.9 maintains knowledge of relevant resources and technologies, and 

2.10 maintains digital literacy for practice. 

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

Standard 3 - Occupational therapy process and practice  

An occupational therapist’s practice acknowledges the relationship between health, wellbeing and human occupation, and their practice is client-centered for individuals, groups, communities and populations.  

An occupational therapist:  

3.1 addresses occupational performance and participation of clients, identifying the enablers and barriers to engagement 

3.2 performs appropriate information gathering and assessment when identifying a client’s status and functioning, strengths, occupational performance and goals 

3.12 uses effective collaborative, multidisciplinary and interprofessional approaches for decision-making and planning. 

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

Standard 4 – Communication 

Occupational therapists' practice with open, responsive and appropriate communication to maximise the occupational performance and engagement of clients and relevant others.  

An occupational therapist:  

4.1 communicates openly, respectfully and effectively 

4.2 adapts written, verbal and non-verbal communication appropriate to the client and practice context 

4.10 seeks and responds to feedback, modifying communication and/or practice accordingly. 

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

Physiotherapy practice thresholds in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand  

Standards/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1 - Physiotherapy practitioner  

As practitioners, physiotherapists integrate the other roles in the Physiotherapy practice thresholds with this central role in their practice context by working in partnership with individuals and populations to optimise their function and quality of life, promote health and implement strategies informed by best available research evidence to prevent and minimise impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions including those associated with complex, acute and chronic conditions.  

1.1 Plan and implement an efficient, effective, culturally responsive and client-centred physiotherapy assessment  

1.2 Involve the client and relevant others in the planning and implementation of safe and effective physiotherapy, using evidence-based practice to inform decision-making 

1.3 Review the continuation of physiotherapy and facilitate the client’s optimal participation in their everyday life  

1.4 Advocate for clients and their rights to health care  

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

Standard 2 - Professional and ethical practitioner  

As professional and ethical practitioners, physiotherapists are committed to standards of behaviour that comply with their legal, professional and ethical obligations, and managing their physical and mental health.  

2.2 Make and act on informed and appropriate decisions about acceptable professional and ethical behaviours  

LO2, LO3, LO4 

Standard 3 - Communicator 

As communicators, physiotherapists use written, verbal and non-verbal methods to effectively and respectfully communicate with clients, family/whānau, other professionals, communities and relevant others and facilitate gathering and sharing of information as appropriate for the situation or context.  

3.1 use clear, accurate, sensitive and effective communication to support the development of trust and rapport in professional relationships with the client and relevant others  

3.2 record and effectively communicate physiotherapy assessment findings, outcomes and decisions  

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Standard 4 - Reflective practitioner and self-directed learner  

As reflective practitioners and self-directed learners, physiotherapists access best available research evidence to inform their practice and engage in critical reflection and relevant learning to maintain and enhance their professional competence and quality of their practice throughout their career.  

4.1 Assess their practice against relevant professional benchmarks and take action to continually improve their practice  

4.2 Evaluate their learning needs, engage in relevant continuing professional development and recognise when to seek professional support, including peer review 

4.3 Efficiently consume and effectively apply research and commit to practice informed by best available research evidence and new knowledge  

4.4 Proactively apply principles of quality improvement and risk management to practice

4.5 Recognise situations that are outside their scope of expertise or competence and take appropriate and timely action 

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Standard 5 - Collaborative practitioner  

As collaborative practitioners, physiotherapists work in partnership with clients, relevant health professionals and relevant others to share decision-making and support achievement of agreed goals through inclusive, collaborative and consultative approaches within legal, ethical and professional frameworks.  

5.1 engage in an inclusive, collaborative, consultative, culturally responsive and client- centred model of practice  

5.2 engage in safe, effective and collaborative interprofessional practice   

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Standard 6 - Educator  

As educators, physiotherapists apply learning principles and strategies relevant to the practice context to facilitate learning by other professionals, students, clients, relevant others, funders and/or insurers, communities and governments.  

6.1 use education to empower themselves and others  

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4


Topics will include typical and atypical structure and function: 

Central and peripheral nervous system  

  • Brain structure and function 
  • Brainstem and cranial nerve structure and function 
  • Spinal cord structure and function 
  • Vascular supply of the brain 
  • Autonomic nervous system  
  • Development of the brain and spinal cord 
  • Medical imaging 

Sensory systems 

  • Somatosensation 
  • Vision 
  • Auditory  
  • Vestibular  
  • Taste 
  • Smell 

Motor systems 

  • Motor learning and control 
  • Primary and secondary motor pathways 
  • Basal ganglia nuclei 
  • Cerebellum  

Neural adaptation 

  • Neuroplasticity principles and neural recovery processes 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Teaching and learning approaches for this unit include lectures, practical sessions and applied learning such as case studies, reading/viewing material and self-directed learning. Lectures provide an opportunity to present relevant information in a structured framework to practical classes. The practical sessions provide experiential learning with activities related to neuroscience and collaborative learning using a range of learning materials such as models and software. The interprofessional tutorials give an opportunity for application of information to complex scenarios, case studies and gain an understanding of other discipline perspectives to support interprofessional practice. Students are 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 summative assessment tasks in this unit are designed to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. Students will be assessed on an individual basis in the examinations.   

The mid semester examination will assess students to demonstrate understanding through multiple choice and short answer style questions.  

The case-based assessment will examine students interprofessional collaboration within the context of a neurological condition. It will develop the ability to work effectively with other health professionals while drawing upon discipline specific roles when required, to enable optimal health outcomes for the client.  

The final semester examination via MCQ and short answer will assess students’ knowledge of neuroscience material across the semester but will be heavily weighted towards content taught in the second half of the semester. This format will allow students to demonstrate understanding through multiple choice and short answer style questions.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Mid semester exam  

This exam will assess student’s knowledge through multiple choice and short answer questions providing feedback to inform assessment 2 and 3.


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Case-based assessment 

Enables students to apply knowledge and understanding of neuroscience, both discipline specific and inter-professionally.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

End of semester exam 

Provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate understanding of neuroscience material throughout the semester through multiple choice and short answer questions.


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Required text:

Lundy-Ekman, L. (2018). Neuroscience: Fundamentals for rehabilitation (5th ed.). Saunders/Elsevier.

Recommended references:

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

Diamond, M.,Scheibel, A. & Elson, L.M. (1986). The human brain coloring book (paperback). HarperCollins Publishers.

Kandel, E. R., Schwartz, J. H., & Jessell, T. M, Siegelbaum, S.A. & Hudspeth, A.J. (2012). Principles of neural science. McGraw-Hill, Health Professions Division.

Nolte, J. (2009). The human brain: An introduction to its functional anatomy (6th ed.). MO: Mosby.

Purves, D. (2004). Neuroscience. Sunderland, Mass: Sinauer Associates, Publishers.

Robbins, S.L. (2010). Robbins and Cotran pathological basis of disease (8th ed.). PA: Elsevier Saunders.

Williams & Wilkins Schmidt, R.A., & Wrisberg, C. (2008). Motor learning and performance: A situation based learning approach (4th ed.). Ill: Human Kinetics Books.

Young, P.A., Young, P.H., & Tolbert, D. (2008). Basic clinical neuroscience (2nd ed.). PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.

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