Melbourne physiotherapy professor publishes in prestigious journal

17 July 2014

Physiotherapy for hip osteoarthritis does not appear to relieve pain or increase function any more than ‘sham’ treatments, University of Melbourne research has determined.

University of Melbourne Physiotherapy School
Study physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne

Hip osteoarthritis is a prevalent and costly chronic musculoskeletal condition. Clinical guidelines recommend physiotherapy as treatment, although its effectiveness has never been proven. Now, a study led by the university’s Professor Kim Bennell has found that among adults with painful hip osteoarthritis, physical therapy does not produce greater improvements in pain or function compared with a placebo treatment.
In an article published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, Professor Bennell and her colleagues randomly assigned patients with hip osteoarthritis to attend 10 sessions of either active physiotherapy treatment (which included education and advice, manual therapy, home exercise and walking with an aid, if needed) or placebo treatments (which included inactive ultrasounds and gel).
“For twenty-four weeks after treatment, the physio group continued unsupervised home exercise while the placebo group self-applied gel three times a week,” said Professor Bennell.
“To our surprise, patient outcomes were roughly the same the thirteen- and thirty-six-week intervals.”
The treatment group actually reported a greater number of adverse events, although they were relatively mild.
“These results question the benefits of the specific physiotherapy components for this patient population,” according to Professor Bennell. “We are currently conducting other trials to further examine the effects of other non-drug treatments for people with osteoarthritis to see whether benefits can be improved,” she said.

About the Melbourne Doctor of Physiotherapy

The Melbourne Doctor of Physiotherapy is Australia’s first three-year entry to practice graduate master’s-level program. Physiotherapy graduates will have the opportunity to pursue a career in a range of health settings, including hospitals, private practice, sporting and rehabilitation facilities, community organizations or as an advisor to government or industry bodies. This degree provides opportunities for pursuing employment globally.
Program: Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT)
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Semester intake: February 2015
Duration: 3 years
Application deadline: August 1, 2014
Melbourne DPT Second Round Applications for the 2015 Intake
Deadline for second round applicants: August 1, 2014
Offers for second round Skype MMI Interviews released: August 15, 2014
Applicants not shortlisted for interview notified: August 29, 2014
Second round Skype MMI interviews conducted: August 25 – 29, 2014
Offers for second round released: October 13 – 17, 2014
Deadline for final results and other offer conditions to be met by applicants: December 18, 2014
Mandatory DPT Orientation: February 6, 2015
DPT Classes commence: February 9, 2015

Apply to the Melbourne Doctor of Physiotherapy Program!


Find out more about the University of Melbourne’s Doctor of Physiotherapy program. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Physiotherapy Schools Admissions Officer Sarah Bridson at or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.