A benchmarking project of physiotherapy in Australian and New Zealand adult major trauma services

Sara Calthorpe, Lara A. Kimmel, Melissa Webb, Anne Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Traumatic injury places a great burden on individuals and society. As mortality plateaus in mature trauma systems, there is an increasing shift towards understanding patients’ morbidity and functional outcomes. Physiotherapy plays a key role in recovery after traumatic injury, but little is currently known about its role in the acute hospital setting for trauma patients. This study aimed to document physiotherapy service structure and practice in adult major trauma services (MTS) across Australia and New Zealand.A survey was distributed electronically to physiotherapists working within designated MTS (n=25), achieving a 92% response rate (n=23). Physiotherapy service delivery, expertise and availability varied greatly. Only seven sites (30%) had a dedicated trauma physiotherapist with this showing a trend towards an association with major trauma admissions (provided by the Australian Trauma Registry; p=0.07). Only eight (35%) had blanket referral systems for physiotherapy review, which was significantly associated with having a dedicated specialised physiotherapist (p =0.015). Most ran a five day/week service for all patients with priority cover over the weekends (78% n=18). Future research should explore the benefits of specialised trauma physiotherapy roles in optimising patient outcomes in order to standardise this across all trauma centres in Australia and New Zealand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-153
Number of pages8
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Physiotherapy
  • Wounds and injuries
  • Physical therapy modalities
  • Multiple trauma
  • Benchmarking

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