Subgroup representatives meet in Dubai 

Representatives of World Physiotherapy subgroups attended a summit meeting in Dubai, UAE, earlier this year. 

The summit, 12-13 March 2022, was led by World Physiotherapy president Emma Stokes, chief executive officer Jonathon Kruger, and deputy chief executive officer Tracy Bury. Twelve of the 14 subgroups had representatives present and, while the International Association of Physiotherapists working with Older People (IPTOP) and International Physical Therapists for HIV/AIDS, Oncology, Hospice and Palliative Care (IPT-HOPE) subgroups were not able to attend, they took part in discussions before and after the summit. 

Representatives of World Physiotherapy subgroups at summit meeting in Dubai
Representatives of World Physiotherapy subgroups at the summit meeting in Dubai

Daniel Catalan, chair of the International Organization of Physical Therapy in Mental Health (IOPTMH) subgroup, said: “The summit was a unique and great opportunity to get to know each other and build synergies among the World Physiotherapy subgroups. Learning best practices from other subgroups has inspired us and helped us move forward in our own subgroup. 

“One of the first outcomes of the summit, for us as a subgroup, was collaborating with other subgroups to submit focused symposium proposals. 

“During the summit, we felt in a very comfortable environment to reflect, discuss, and explore new ways to move forward from a global physiotherapy perspective. 

“World Physiotherapy made an excellent organisation of the summit, helping us work together in a very productive and efficient manner.” 


The objectives of the summit included: 

  • considering how World Physiotherapy governance requirements of subgroups support the overall objectives of subgroups and World Physiotherapy 
  • clarifying, collectively, the role and relationship between subgroups and World Physiotherapy and how these can be developed 
  • exploring and describing how to evolve the existing collaborative advantage between subgroups and World Physiotherapy 
  • developing a shared vision and assessing how this could facilitate innovation and development in the future 
  • considering wider physiotherapy global communities of practice and models to promote inclusion within existing or new structures 
  • supporting leaders of subgroups in their roles across key functions. 

The summit meeting had been rescheduled twice, due to the impact of the pandemic, and the subgroup representatives appreciated the opportunity to, finally, connect in-person to share ideas and experiences. They recognised the strong reciprocal relationship between the subgroups and World Physiotherapy and the growing sense of connection across the subgroups looking for collaborative advantage in activities. 

Judith Deutsch, chair of the International Neurological Physical Therapy Association (INPA) subgroup, said: “The subgroup summit was extraordinary. Not only did we get to meet, share, and learn from our colleagues from around the world representing most of the subgroups but we also learned from our leaders, Emma Stokes, Tracy Bury, and Jonathon Kruger.  

“We were treated to a well-structured two days of growth and reflection. To top it all, for many of us, it was our first experience of Dubai, where we experienced the city sights and delicious food.”  

Discussions across the two days were positive, constructive, and wide-ranging. The views shared by the subgroup representatives included a commitment to build a stronger relationship with World Physiotherapy, while maintaining their independence. 


Actions from the meeting included: 

  • making minor revisions to the World Physiotherapy constitution as it relates to subgroups, pending consultation with members 
  • supporting subgroups to make changes to their constitutions 
  • hosting a webinar to improve the subgroups’ understanding of the World Physiotherapy general meeting 
  • reviewing options to support leadership development 
  • continuing discussions about congresses in the future  
  • mapping external relationships across all subgroups to improve external relationships 

Some of these actions have already been completed and planning is in place for other actions. 

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World Physiotherapy subgroups and events