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 for Physiotherapy Education:
  • Signs and symptoms of injuries sustained by deliberate violence may present similarly to injuries sustained in sports or accidents
  • Often, torture survivors have been forced into strained positions for long periods of time, or been subjected to a prolonged physically or psychologically stressful situation
  • “Submarine” torture can lead to chronic pneumonia or bronchitis; “falanga” leaves wounds on the soles of feet similar to those sustained from walking long distances barefoot or in poor footwear
  • Are PTs effectively equipped to interview, examine and treat patients that have survived this?  It would be appropriate to investigate at least the following aspects of training:
    • Knowledge and skills taught in equipping PTs to evaluate and treat clients in situation as sensitive as described above
    • Effectiveness of coping skills taught to students
    • Knowledge of the history, political beliefs and social culture of the particular communities where students are placed
    • Necessity for students to be informed on issues of Human Rights
    • Need for research to be done to quantify the amount of clients who are victims of intentional violence and are being treated by PTs


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