Physical Therapy/Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy (Physical Therapy: these terms will be used interchangeably on this website) is a growing field in the area of torture survivor treatment. Survivors of torture are often affected by chronic pain and by difficulty in carrying out functional activities.
Research carried out by Dignity-Danish Institute Against Torture suggests that up to 80% of torture survivors could benefit from receiving physiotherapy. A worldwide survey of torture treatment centers carried out by the Center for Victims of Torture staff shows that a majority of clients receive physical therapy 51% of the time when there is a physiotherapist on staff and 20% of the time when there is not.
The physiotherapy area of the HealTorture webpage has been created in order to help physiotherapists and other members of the team treating torture survivors to have a site where they can go to learn more about physiotherapies’ role in helping survivors to heal.
We encourage people who are serving survivors to submit resources to this website using this form or by emailing
Some of the linked articles will appear in more than one section.
See the menu on the right to navigate this portion of

Introduction to PT with Torture Survivors

Torture survivors introduction to physiotherapy: Torture and sequelae after torture

Prip, K & Amris, K. (2003), Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims, 45 pages.
This booklet was reviewed by Brittany Burton, doctoral physical therapy student at the University of Minnesota, 2014.
Link is to the article from the Dignity-Danish Institute Against Torture library. 
Introduction: Explanation of what the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) is and the objectives of this organization which is based in Denmark.

CVT Physical Therapy Survey Results

In 2014, CVT conducted a Physiotherapy Survey. Through this survey, we hoped to learn about the physiotherapists working with torture survivors, the availability of physiotherapy services, and the types of clients receiving physiotherapy services. We sent surveys to roughly 200 email addresses and received 87 responses in English, French, and Spanish. The attached report shares the compiled data and findings.

Declaration for physiotherapists: Guidelines concerning torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment

World Confederation for Physical Therapy, (1996), Torture Quarterly, 6(4), 103.
This article was reviewed by Charlotte Hoium, doctoral physical therapy student from the University of Minnesota, 2014.
The exact wording of the declaration from the 1995 World Confederation of Physiotherapy  is listed below.
  1. PTs shall not condone or participate in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures.
  2. The PT shall not provide anything to facilitate the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
  3. The PT shall not be present during any procedure during which torture or

Physical Therapy for Survivors of Torture


Some specialized torture treatment centers have observed benefits among their patients from physical treatment modalities such as physical therapy or massage. Primary care or other clinics treating torture survivors may also consider such interventions when addressing complaints of chronic pain and physical symptoms.  Because torture is usually directed in part toward the physical being of the victim, attention to the body can be especially therapeutic, both emotionally and physically.

Torture! Violence! Physiotherapy?

Faure, M. (1995). South African Journal of Physiotherapy, 5(3), 49-51.
This article was reviewed by Charlotte Hoium, doctoral physical therapy student at the University of Minnesota.
It is available free of charge by request to Dignity-Danish Institute Against Torture by emailing
Background: In this brief article, a description of a four day long training seminar about physical therapy and torture was made, as well implications for physical therapy education are made. Special considerations for treating torture survivors are described.
Possible Implications