World Physiotherapy holds its first online congress

More than 2,100 physiotherapists from 126 countries/territories took part in World Physiotherapy’s first online congress.

Over the three live days of World Physiotherapy congress 2021 online, 9-11 April 2021, 2,137 people took part in 70 hours of content in 90 sessions across six parallel channels. The opening session on 9 April attracted more than 1,200 people who watched the livestream, and more than 1,000 people watched the livestream of the closing session. 

Watch the closing session

The special sessions (opening, closing and highlights of the day) were all open access and livestreamed across social media. After these, the most-watched sessions were:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (FS-02)
  • Refugee and migrant health (FS-05)
  • Commonly misunderstood statistics (FS-11)
  • Pain neuroscience education (FS-04)
  • Clinical reasoning (WS-04)
  • Psychologically informed physiotherapy (SEM-06)
  • Pain - approaching education and explaining pain (IN-06)
  • Evidence-informed practice (DS-04)                                                        

Award winners

40 physiotherapists from 20 countries/territories received awards recognising their outstanding poster and platform abstract presentations at congress. The awards were announced on 8 April. Judging was based on a combined assessment of abstract and presentation quality. 

During the closing session on 11 April, Rachael Mary Cowan, from Australia, was announced as the winner of the PEDro award for the best report of a randomised controlled trial for her abstract, Hormone therapy and exercise as interventions for post-menopausal women with greater trochanteric pain syndrome. A randomised controlled trial.

More than 1,180 poster and platform abstract presentations, including the award-winners, are available to registered participants through the on demand section of the online congress platform and recordings from the live days have now been added to this.


Bursaries were awarded to 105 physiotherapists to support their participation in congress. Dorice Adrian, a physiotherapist working in a hospital in Tanzania, said the bursary had enabled her to connect with physiotherapists she had read about in articles, books and other media. 

She said: “The exposure to the international physiotherapists’ community will not only add to my continuing professional development but also offers a chance to learn new research findings and improve my clinical practice.

“The congress will mark the beginning of my journey as an international researcher as I will be presenting my abstract for the first time.” 

The top 10 countries/territories from where participants took part in the congress were: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, Netherlands, Switzerland, UK, and US.

Comments on social media about the congress included:


  • Thank you @WorldPhysio2021. What a feat of technology! Some excellent presentations with much food for thought. The online format provided a real sense of connection with PTs from around the world.


  • First time I’m attending the congress and I really loved it, well organized and very educative. Well done.


  • One of the greatest things occurred during my undergraduate journey is to attend #WorldPhysio2021 congress and participate with a poster. Amazing experience. Looking forward to #WorldPhysio2023 in Tokyo. Thanks for the great congress


  • Thank you to @WorldPhysio1951 for their global platform. Was exposed to so much evidence-based practice from #physiotherapists around the world.


  • I struggled to attend a lot of live sessions #WorldPhysio2021 due to family commitments, being able to watch these back in my own time has been terrific.


  • My CPD is sorted for the next few days/weeks/months. This will be one amazing online conference. #GlobalPT coming together again. Well done and thank you @WorldPhysio1951 and all the international contributions and collaborations. Greatest online format ever.

During the closing session, Jackie Whittaker was announced as the chair of the congress programme committee (CPC) for World Physiotherapy Congress 2023 in Tokyo, Japan, 1-4 June 2023. Applications to become a CPC member close on 16 May 2021. 

Over 50 hours of recorded content has been added to the poster and platform abstract presentations that are available for registered participants to access on demand until 8 July 2021. The World Café and networking sessions, along with instant access to speakers are not available on demand.

Registration to access the on demand content is available at 25% discount on the live congress rate.

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World Physiotherapy Congress 2021 online