Our awards programme recognises outstanding contributions by physiotherapists to the profession and/or global health at an international level

Awards programme

There are several categories of award, which are presented every four years when the general meeting and congress take place in the same year. 

An awards committee is set up to oversee the awards programme and make its recommendations to the World Physiotherapy board.

Awards committee members for 2023


Awards in 2023

Award winners at World Physiotherapy awards presentation
Recipients of the World Physiotherapy awards at the presentation in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The most recent awards were presented in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in June 2023.

Watch a recording of the World Physiotherapy awards presentation in Dubai

View the 2023 award recipients

Mildred Elson award

Mildred Elson was the founding president of WCPT (1953-1956) and a driving force in establishing the organisation. She believed strongly in the benefits of physiotherapists working together nationally and globally. At the second general meeting she said that the future depended on every single physiotherapist working with their patients, professional associations, professional colleagues and private individuals towards a common goal – “the recovery of the patient, physically, socially and economically”.

This is the highest honour World Physiotherapy can bestow. It is for outstanding leadership contributing significantly to the development of physiotherapy internationally. It was established in 1987, with funds donated by the American Physical Therapy Association, and only one Mildred Elson award is given at the time of each general meeting.

2023: Margot Skinner - clinician, educator, researcher, and member of Physiotherapy New Zealand

2019: Anne Moseley - clinician, teacher, researcher, and member of Australian Physiotherapy Association

2015: Kari Bø - clinician, researcher, teacher, and member of Norwegian Physiotherapist Association

2011: Stanley Paris - author, clinician, teacher, and member of American Physical Therapy Association

2007: Jules Rothstein - researcher, writer, educator, and member of American Physical Therapy Association

2003: Marilyn Moffat - educator, clinician, author, WCPT president 2007-2015, and member of American Physical Therapy Association

1999: Joan Walker - educator, researcher, and member of Canadian Physiotherapy Association

1995: Geoffrey Maitland - clinician, teacher, author, and member of Australian Physiotherapy Association

1991: Elizabeth McKay - secretary general of WCPT 1970-1986

1987: Mildred Elson - inaugural president, WCPT 1953-1956, and member of American Physical Therapy Association

International service award

Awards for international service are to honour individuals who have made a significant contribution to physiotherapy internationally and/or within their region.

The nominees will have demonstrated leadership, made distinguished contributions and/or had a high impact on the profession at an international or regional level through service in one or more of the following areas: practice, education, research, management/administration, advocacy.

More than one award may be given at the time of each general meeting.

Nominations are accepted from member organisations, regions and subgroups. All nominations should indicate the area in which the majority of the nominee’s work has taken place.

Humanitarian service award

This award recognises individual physiotherapists who have improved people’s lives through their exceptional care, compassion, dedication and personal commitment.

Previous recipients of this award include: Valerie Taylor in 2023Lorena Enebral Pérez (posthumously) and Daniel Wappenstein Geller in 2019, Diana Hiscock in 2015, Ann Schmidt in 2011, Alberto Cairo in 2007.

Usually, only one award is given at the time of each general meeting.

Nominations are accepted from member organisations, regions and subgroups. Nominees for this award may have carried out their work at a national or international level and their work may take place in one of a variety of sectors for example non-governmental or humanitarian organisations. Nominees may have made their contribution as an employee or volunteer.

Leadership in rehabilitation award

This award recognises an individual or group/organisation who has made an exceptional contribution to international rehabilitation and/or global health. The individual or group nominated do not need to be physiotherapists and may have made a significant contribution in areas such as:

  • leading rehabilitation programmes in disaster areas, war-affected zones, areas of humanitarian need
  • ensuring that populations have adequate access to rehabilitation services through direct service delivery or advocacy and awareness raising initiatives
  • initiating new rehabilitation education and/or research programmes.

Previous recipients have included Yoshifumi Kobayashi in 2023, Christina H Opara in 2019 and Padmani Mendis in 2015.

Only one award is given at the time of each general meeting.

Nominations may be submitted by member organisations, regions, subgroups and a member of the World Physiotherapy board.

Recognition of service to World Physiotherapy award

In addition to awards through nomination, World Physiotherapy recognises individuals who have contributed to World Physiotherapy as chairs of regions and subgroups and through membership of committees.

This award is determined by the World Physiotherapy board and is not open to nomination.

For more information about the awards programme, please contact [email protected]

News and photos about the awards