Society of African Journal Editors

African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

Do biokineticists transgress on physiotherapists’ scope of profession? Evidence-based analysis of two physical rehabilitation disciplines in South Africa

Authors: T.J. Ellapen, Y Paul, M Swanepoel, G.L. Strydom

Journal: African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

Biokineticists are allegedly trespassing on the scope of profession (SoP) of Physiotherapy.This is a serious accusation, which warrants a careful evidence based investigation. These concerns, raised by the South African Society of Physiotherapy (SASP), which were subsequently submitted to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) date back to 2011. In July 2016 the HPCSA issued a communiqué to the Biokinetics Association of South Africa (BASA) and the Heads of the Departments of Universities of Podiatry, Physiotherapy and Biokinetics, to officially communicate to podiatrists, physiotherapists and biokineticists, interns and students-intraining that a person who is not registered as a physiotherapist may not use the terms “ physical therapy ” and “ physical therapist ”. The objectives of this study are to: distinguish the SoP of Physiotherapy and of Biokinetics through the consideration of their gazetted SoP, to review the minimum training standards of both professions in relation to exercise/physical therapy, to identify potential areas of scope overlap between Physiotherapy and Biokinetics, and to identify remedial steps that could help to prevent any future infringement or overlap in their SoPs. A literature search and documentary analysis of peer-reviewed professional journal publications, statutory and professional bodies’ websites, communiqués and proceedings from meetings was conducted using the following search engines and databases: Google, Sabinet and Google Scholar adopting PRIMSA standard practices. Keywords used in the search were “biokineticists,” “physiotherapists,” “trespassing of scope of profession” and “patient referral.” The exclusion criteria were the alleged trespassing of other South African professionals onto the SoP of Physiotherapy and patient referral systems relating to other South African health professions other than Biokinetics or Physiotherapy. The literature search identified 335 records, which were subsequently reduced to 14 after the application of the exclusion criteria. Findings reveal an overlap in both the SoP and pathology management in the health dimensions of the paradigms between the professions. A correct interpretation of the health dimensions will aid practitioners in both professions to more accurately and appropriately render their professional services thereby avoiding overlap, controversy and confusion as well as developing a better understanding of their SoPs. Keywords: Trespassing, scope of practice, biokinetics, physiotherapy