Physiotherapy attempts to address the illnesses, or injuries that limit a person's abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Physiotherapists use an individual's history and physical examination to arrive at a diagnosis and establish a management plan. When necessary, they incorporate the results of imaging studies like X-rays, CT-scan, or MRI findings and electrodiagnostic testing (e.g., electromyograms and nerve conduction velocity testing).

Physiotherapy commonly includes prescription of or assistance with specific exercises, manual therapy and manipulation, mechanical devices such as traction, education, physical agents which includes heat, cold, electricity, sound waves, radiation, assistive devices, prostheses, orthoses and other interventions.

In addition, physiotherapists work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles, providing services to individuals and populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan. This includes providing therapeutic treatment in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by aging, injury, disease or environmental factors. Functional movement is central to what it means to be healthy.

Education varies greatly by country. Canadian physiotherapy programs are offered at 15 universities, often through the university's respective college of medicine. Each of Canada's physical therapy schools are 2-year Master's of Physical Therapy (MPT) programs that require prerequisite bachelor's degrees.