The International Association of Physical Therapists working with Older People


Worldwide promotion of physiotherapeutic excellence when working with older people.

Founded October 2002.

Older people: The Global Challenge

By 2025 there will be an estimated 800 million older people in the world, with the fastest growth being in developing countries. The unique knowledge, skills and experience of physical therapists places them in a pivotal position to influence the health and function of older people. Sharing information and cascading relevant knowledge throughout WCPT’s international network, facilitates learning based on experience from both developed and developing countries.

Physical therapy for older people

The prime purpose of physical therapists working with older people is to maintain and/or restore function, activity and independence. This requires a person-centred, collaborative, inter-professional approach to a wide range of conditions affecting this population.

IPTOP as a subgroup of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT)

The WCPT is a confederation of 109 national physical therapy associations representing more than 450,000 physical therapists. Founded in 1951, WCPT exists to improve global health by representing physical therapy internationally and encouraging high standards of physical therapy research, education and practice. Subgroups are international physical therapy organisations recognised by WCPT member organisations established to exchange scientific knowledge and promote the advancement of physical therapy in a special area of interest; IPTOP was recognised as a subgroup of the WCPT in 2003.

Founding and development of IPTOP  

The initiative to form an international special interest group for physical therapists working with older people began as a project from a course held in Malta in 1993, organised by WCPT and the International Institute on Ageing (United Nations, Malta). At the 1999 WCPT Congress in Japan, a steering committee was established in response to a shared vision for an international group. During the next three years the steering committee worked to bring the idea into reality and in 2002 met in the United Kingdom where the Association was established as The International Association of Physical Therapists working with Older People (IPTOP). It was recognised as one of six subgroups of WCPT in 2003 and its subgroup status was reconfirmed in 2007. Since its inception membership has grown rapidly and by the WCPT Congress in 2011, included groups from 18 WCPT member organisations representing over 8,000 physical therapists.  

The foundation member organisations were:

  • Australian National Gerontology Group
  • Bulgarian Physiotherapists in Geriatrics
  • Finnish Geriatric Association of Physiotherapy
  • Arbietskreis Geriatrie im ZVK (Germany)
  • Icelandic Association of Physical Therapists working with Older People
  • Chartered Physiotherapists in Neurology and Gerontology (Ireland)
  • Active for Life (Malta)
  • Physiotherapy for the Older Adult (New Zealand)
  • Turkish Geriatric Physiotherapy Association
  • AGILE (United Kingdom)
  • APTA Section on Geriatrics (United States of America)

Mission Statement

IPTOP represents national special interest groups of physical therapists working with older people. The efforts of the Association are directed towards enabling national organisations and their individual members to work with older people through research, evidence based practice, clinical specialisation and collaborative practice with other disciplines and carers. The intention of the association is to be the international resource for physical therapists working with older people.

  • To foster collaboration between physical therapists working with older people throughout the world.
  • To encourage high standards of physical therapy practice with older people.
  • To advance practice by communication and exchange of information
  • To encourage scientific research and promote opportunities for the spread of knowledge of new developments in the field.
  • To assist WCPT member organisations in the formation and development of recognised groups working with older people.

Membership (more detailed information can be found in section 5 of the IPTOP Constitution)

Full Membership

An IPTOP member is a recognised special interest group of physical therapists working with older people from a WCPT member organisation. Full membership is granted after being approved by IPTOP’s executive committee and passed at a general meeting of IPTOP. Membership forms are available from the  IPTOP Treasurer.

Associate Membership

Physical therapy associations too small to have a special interest group or those associations that have yet to organise a special interest group of therapists working with older people, are eligible for associate membership.

Honorary Fellow

Fellowship may be granted by IPTOP to physical therapists that have enhanced the Association rendered valuable services to older people.

Cost of membership

IPTOP wishes to ensure no national special interest group is discouraged from joining on financial terms, thus the Association aims to keep the affiliation fees low. Discounted membership fees apply to IPTOP member organisations whose WCPT member organisation is eligible to pay a reduced subscription.

Funding is used for postage, stationery and the biannual newsletter; the officers carry all other expenses.


IPTOP has a policy of joining its conferences to member organisations’ national conferences whenever possible. This ensures member organisations in all regions have an opportunity to cost effectively participate in the organisation. Information on this can be obtained from the President. IPTOP conferences have taken place in Dublin, Ireland 2004; Melbourne, Australia 2005; and Istanbul, Turkey 2006 and Ankara 2009.  IPTOP also assist in organising Educational Programmes in conjunction with the International Congresses of WCPT.

National Special Interest Group formation, support and development

The officers of the Association have been instrumental in helping to establish special interest groups in individual member organisations. These organisations can then apply to join IPTOP.

Assistance when possible is given to the ongoing development of established organisations. Consideration is made on an individual basis and is dependent upon funding available.

Primary communication is by regular newsletter to members, electronic where possible. In addition, the group provides information, resources, and professional development support to members. Groups are encouraged to exchange their journals with other members within the Association.

It is hoped that through IPTOP support more recognition of specialist skills and/or advanced practice skills and knowledge in gerontology will encourage the development of further opportunities for physiotherapists. This will ensure their contribution to the quality of life of older people and, where applicable, their support system or caregivers.


The biannual newsletter can be accessed through the newsletter section of this site.

For further information about IPTOP please contact the association's officers.


The email addresses for the nominated members of the individual member organisations can be found at www.iptop.wcpt.org, during the latter part of the year after membership has been reconfirmed by each member country, along with a full list of current member organisations.