Welcome to Worldwide Physical Therapy Practice: a focus on Primary Care Physical Therapy

This is a project created by and for the students in the School of Physical Therapy at the University of St. Augustine in St. Augustine Florida. Please do not edit unless you are involved in this project, but please come back in the near future to check out new information!!

Original Editor - Jetro Tenerife

Top Contributors - Jetro Tenerife and Elaine Lonnemann  

Patient Access to Physiotherapy or Physical Therapy Services / Entry Point

In the urban settings, the patient would be visiting hospitals and doctor’s office to get access to rehabilitation. In the Rural settings, there is a two-tier system of community clinics and health clinics. For medical care, patients go to community clinics first and, if more assistance is needed, then they are referred to health clinics. The community clinics are managed by community nurse, while a health management officer or family medicine specialist is in-charge in health clinics. The physician from the health clinic can then refer patients to therapy. (1) Ariff and Lieng (1) also mentioned that people in the rural areas tend to go to traditional healers for musculoskeletal conditions.

Therapist Preparation


The Laurete International University (2) offers a four-year Bachelor Degree in Physiotherapy with 1,600 clinical skills training. Students should have completed a Foundation Program in Science for five credit units prior to admission.


The University of Teknologi Mara (3) offers a 6-10 semester course leading to a post-degree in Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Health Science - Respiratory Physiotherapy by Research.

Professional Associations

The Malaysian Physiotherapy Association (MPA) is the professional organization for physiotherapy in Malaysia. It had its inaugural meeting on March 9, 1963 led by Dr. M. K. Rajkumar. The organization was registered as an Association on August 6, 1963, initially with 12 members. The association is a member of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy since 1974, and is the founder member of the Asian Confederation of Physical Therapy in 1980. Among MPA’s duties include acting as an “advisory body for setting up physiotherapy services in the public and community health centers.” (4)

Information about the Patient Community

According to the the World Bank statistics for 2008 (5), 70.4%, or about 1.9 million, of the population in Malaysia are in the urban areas. There are State Hospitals managed by medical officers, paramedics and nurses on each of the the 13 States. As for the rural areas, the Ministry of Health has extensive network of rural health clinics, mobile teams and “the flying doctor service”.(1)

Social/Cultural Influences

Malaysia has a diverse cultural and religious influence. Malays, or Muslims who practice Malay customs, make up 50.4% of the population. Bumiputra, which make up 11% of the population, are non-Malay indigenous. Other minorities, mostly of Chinese and Indian descent, make up the remaining 23.7%. Islam is the state religion, practiced by 60.4% of the population. Other religion include Buddhism (19.2%), Christianity (9.1%), Hinduism (6.3%), and other traditional Chinese religions (2.6%). (4)   Hague (5) wrote an article on culture-bound syndromes and the practice of indigenous methods of healing on mental health issues. She further states that within the Malaysian population, healing concepts vary depending on the religion and cultural beliefs.

Delivery of Care

There are State Hospitals managed by medical officers, paramedics and nurses on each of the the 13 States. As for the rural areas, the Ministry of Health has extensive network of rural health clinics, mobile teams and “the flying doctor service”. (1)

Type of Health System

Malaysia has a universal health care system, with Government and private and sectors. The Government allocates as much as 5% of the its budget to public healthcare. Private hostpitals has recently been growing due to increased number of foreigners in the area. (7)

Payment System

Ariff and Lieng (1) states that rural health services are subsidized by the Malaysian Government. The patients pay one Malaysian Ringgit (about $ 0.25) for medications. There are several medical and health insurance available to be used on private clinics and hospitals.


1. Ariff KM, Lieng TC. Rural Health Care in Malaysia. Aus J Rural Health. 2002; 10, 99-103

2. Faculty of Heatlh Sciences. University of Teknologi Mara. Cited 2011 July 16. Available at

3. B. Sc in Physiotherapy. International Laurete University. Cited 2011 July 16. Available at

4. Malaysian Physiotherapy Association. Cited 2011 July 14. Available from:

5. Rural Population in Malaysia. Trading Economics. Cited 2011 July 15. Available from:

6. Malaysia. Wikipedia. Cited 2011 July 15. Available from:

7. Hague A. Culture-bound syndromes and healing practices in Malaysia. Mental Health, Relegion and Culture. 2008: 11(7), 685-696.

8. Healthcare in Malaysia. Wikipedia. Cited 2011 July 16. Available from: