Supply Demand Gap in the Germany Physiotherapy Market

Supply Demand Gap in the Germany Physiotherapy Market
Supply Demand Gap in the Germany Physiotherapy Market

Physiotherapy is a treatment that a patient undergoes when affected by an injury, or illness, or has chronic pain that disrupts how they function every day. It helps the patient to restore the movement and function of the body. It is an approach where a patient is directly involved in their care and is usually recommended either after a surgery such as knee replacement, or stroke or after an injury is caused while performing day-to-day activities like sports.

Physiotherapy Demand in Germany: Sports, Aging, and Chronic Ailments

According to Insights10's Germany physiotherapy market report, in Germany, sports and physical activity are highly valued cultural aspects and demand a greater need for physiotherapy services to assist athletes in their recovery from injuries and enhance performance. While Germany is the third country in the world to have the highest older population, it calls for an increased need for physiotherapy to address age-related ailments like muscular weakening, joint discomfort, and balance issues. Additionally, the rise in chronic ailments in the country like musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and neurological disorders need physical therapy frequently to enhance mobility, control pain, and prevent complications.

Supply Demand Gap in the German Physiotherapy Market

In addressing Germany's diverse physiotherapy needs, a clear distinction emerges between surgical and non-surgical requirements, with patients divided into 68% and 32% respectively. North Rhine-Westphalia shoulders the highest patient load, accounting for 24% of the total demand in the country. Surprisingly, only 17.33% of the surgical physiotherapy demand is met nationally, leaving a significant gap of 82.67%. On the contrary, non-surgical procedures perform slightly better, meeting 77.21% of demand. Moreover, the disparity between the required and provided hours of care is glaring, with a single patient receiving just 13 hours out of the 75 required post-surgical procedures and 24 hours instead of 31 for non-surgical procedures.

  • Patients in orthopedics have a total need of 92 hours per patient, which is broken down into 3.5 hours per day for three weeks and an extra 2 hours per week for the next three to four weeks
  • Patients with neurology require 37 hours per patient, divided into 40-minute sessions each day for eight weeks
  • In cardiology, a patient needs 7 hours of care, given every day for 60 minutes, seven days a week
  • In non-surgical cases, patients with orthopedics require 32 hours of treatment, while patients with neurology require 90 hours, divided into 30 hours a year for four years

All of this adds up to the necessary 464,235,293 hours of care for surgical physiotherapy and 416,738,097 for non-surgical physiotherapy in a year, whereas the available hours for physiotherapists are 80,444,000 and 321,776,000 respectively. Only 0.028 Mn (28,000) practitioners are available for every 15 Mn surgeries performed in Germany. The substantial gap between demand and supply is further emphasized by the fact that out of 244,000 physiotherapists nationwide, only 38,000 are skilled, while 204,000 cater to complex cases, with a mere 2,000 physiotherapists available for highly complex procedures. Even though, if all physiotherapists worked to their maximum capacity, the stark reality is that there are only 1,072,586 patients that could be possibly served. This is worrisomely short of the 6,186,205 patients that represent the overwhelming need.

Challenges and Requirements for Physiotherapists in Germany

To pursue a profession as a physiotherapist in Germany, one must first overcome the stringent requirements that are enforced by the Federal Ministry of Health. A stringent process is followed to recognize practitioners from other countries. The rejection percentage for candidates who were not from the EU was 15% in 2022. To fulfill their academic requirements, physiotherapists in training are required to gain 64 ECTS credits from a variety of module experiences. Even if there is a demand in the industry, there are challenges that arise due to the high workloads and the complicated licensing process. These challenges are made even more difficult by the fact that the average monthly remuneration for the profession ranges from $3300 to $3850.

Government Initiatives Boost Physiotherapy Education and Practice in Germany

Within the context of a larger initiative to enhance the environment for physiotherapy education and practice in Germany, the government is in the process of expediting the immigration procedures for physiotherapists who have received their training in other countries. This includes the faster acquisition of work permits as well as the easier recognition of qualifications obtained from other countries. Study places have also greatly expanded as a result of improvements in financing, and scholarship programs strongly encourage talented students to enter the sector, particularly those who come from poor homes. By participating in financial aid programs like the Deutschlandstipendium and the BAfoG program, students who are pursuing a degree in physiotherapy have the opportunity to obtain additional assistance in meeting their educational and living expenses. At the same time, Germany's commitment to developing a warm and lively environment for the study of physiotherapists is demonstrated by the existence of state-specific scholarship programs and tuition price waivers.


In a nutshell, Germany has a significant disparity between the growing need for physiotherapy services and the supply of qualified professionals, especially when it comes to surgical procedures with only 17.33% of needs being met. The discrepancies in addressing patient demands, both in quantity and in specialized care, highlight the urgent need for systemic reforms and more resources in the physiotherapy industry. Bridging this gap is critical to ensuring thorough and timely rehabilitation, particularly given Germany's diverse and changing healthcare system. The current situation necessitates strategic interventions to match the supply of physiotherapists with the urgent demand, ultimately prioritizing the population's well-being and mobility.

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