Try Physiopedia Plus for FREE with a trial account


An online course for physical therapists / physiotherapists

Stroke An online course for physical therapists / physiotherapists

This course is available to start and complete at any time on your own schedule.

Available to FULL Physiopedia Plus members.

I am amazed with the high quality of the online courses. All the content of the courses are evidence-based and have excellent videos, articles and guidelines. I really recommend Physiopedia courses!


According to the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study (2010), Stroke categorised under Cardiovascular and Circulatory Diseases, is the second leading cause of death globally and the third leading cause of premature death and disability as measured in Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY). A challenge to global health, the prevalence of stroke and its cost is likely to rise as the aging population increases.

Stroke is a complex pathology with many different clinical presentations each with unique impairments and activity limitations. Physiotherapy can have a massive impact on quality of life of a Stroke survivor.  When working with individuals with acute and chronic impairment as a result of stroke, best practice requires a good understanding of the pathology and skills in assessment and treatment selection and rehabilitation.  Stroke is a large topic area, and can be studied as an area of clinical specialism within Physiotherapy, therefore this course is by no means exhaustive.

Course aims

This course aims to provide an overview of physiotherapy practice relating to Stroke to develop a foundation of knowledge that will enable you to assess and treat individuals with acute and chronic impairment as a result of stroke.

Course summary

This course will first give you a deeper understanding of neuroanatomy and neuophysiology related to Stroke.  Then by exploring epidemiology and risk factors we will come to understand the global burden of Stroke and prevention measures that Physiotherapists can get involved with. Assessment is a key skill for Physiotherapists in performing effective management of individuals following Stroke, we will consider assessment scales, outcome measures and the roles of the multi-disciplinary team. Then, based on the latest evidence available, we will explore different management options for rehabilitation of acute and chronic presentations. This course will have a strong emphasis on differential diagnosis, to try and develop your clinical reasoning skills within this area.

Course outline

  1. Section 1: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, Anatomy, and Clinical Presentations
  2. Section 2: Assessment of Stroke including Outcome Measures
  3. Section 3: Management of Stroke including Clinical Guidelines
  4. Section 4: Specific Therapeutic Interventions including Gait, Upper Limb
  5. Section 5: Final Tasks and Optional Assignment

Accreditation details

16 PP+ points will be awarded on completion of this course (an additional 4 PP+ points available on completion of an optional assignment).

This course has been accredited by:

  1. South African Society of Physiotherapy (16 CEUs level 2)
  2. Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (ProCert) (7 CCUs) - Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  3. Texas Physical Therapy Association (18.56 CCUs)

Accreditation for this course is being sought with:

  1. World Confederation for Physical Therapy

A standard accreditation pack for this course can be provided for submission to other accreditation organisations. To access to this pack please contact

Hours of learning

Completing this course will involve approximately 16 hours of learning activities. These will be delivered in 4 sections that can be completed on a participant’s own schedule, however it is recommended that the course is completed over a 4 week period. There is an optional additional 4 hour activity for participants who wish to submit an assignment for a course distinction.

Target audience

This course is aimed at Physiotherapy and Physical Therapy professionals, clinicians and students.

Course practicalities

This course is divided into 4 sections/weeks and it is suggested (but not required) that each section be completed over the duration of approximately a week. Please note that no deadlines are applied and this course can be started and completed according to your own schedule. We expect the required elements of each section/week to take around 4-6 hours depending on your schedule and learning style. Additionally there are many optional resources provided and if you choose to review these the course could take longer to complete.
It’s not going to be easy, we’ll expect you to work hard for your completion certificate and PP+ points! You won’t be sitting back and watching webinars, we’ll expect you to reading tasks, complete quizzes, perform literature searches and other learning activities. You’ll need to reflect on your own experiences and contribute them within the discussion forum, this is where we can learn from each other’s experiences and knowledge from all around the world! At the end of the course, when you have completed all of the required elements, you will be able to download a certificate of completion and 16 PP+ points will be added to your personalised learning dashboard.

Types of learning activity involved

Reading Physiopedia pages, journal articles, book chapters. Watching videos. Attempting quizzes. Participating in an international discussion forum.


The following topic specialists were interviewed as part of this course:

Example resources provided

A wide variety of resources are included in this course including book chapters, articles, videos, guidelines etc from texts such as:

  • O'Sullivan SB, Schmitz TJ, Fulk G. Chapter 15 Stroke: Physical Rehabilitation. FA Davis; 2013 Jul 23.
  • Teasell, R., Foley, N., Hussein N. & Speechley, M., The Elements of Stroke Rehabilitation. Chapter 6 in: Evidence-Based Review of Stroke Rehabilitation, 2013
  • Lennon, S. Chapter 11: The Theoretical Basis for Evidence-based Neurological Physiotherapy, Physical Management for Neurological Conditions, Elsevier, 2011.
  • Gillen, G., Pathophysiology, Medical Management and Acute Rehabilitation of Stroke Survivors. Chapter 1 in Stroke Rehabilitation: A Functional Based Approach. Elsevier, 2011.
  • Saunders, D and Mead, G. Evidence for exercise and fitness training after stroke. Chapter 5 in: Mead, G and Wijck, F. Exercise and Fitness Training After Stroke: A Handbook for evidence based practice. Elsevier, 2011.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Identify three modifiable risk factors for Stroke
  • Compare and contrast the two main classifications of Stroke
  • Describe four clinical presentations of Stroke and outline the resulting deficits
  • Analyse the prevalence of Stroke in your community compared to the rest of the world.
  • Examine three ways in which damage to the brain influences movement and posture related to the different classifications of Stroke
  • Compare and contrast three Stroke Assessment Scales used to assess an individual following Stroke.
  • Explain four principles underlying assessment of Stroke to ensure a holistic approach
  • Choose six specific Outcome Measures to quantify impairment or functional limitation level post Stroke
  • Debate the role of clinical guidelines in Stroke management
  • Identify when brain imaging should be performed immediately for patients with persistent neurological symptoms.
  • Select two appropriate treatment options for an individual following Stroke
  • Discuss the role of physiotherapy in secondary prevention of Stroke
  • Describe how the role of a physical therapist fits within the multiple within an ideal multidisciplinary team working with an individual post stroke
  • Identify six different evidence based therapeutic approaches to managing an individual following Stroke
  • Develop a treatment plan involving three evidence based specific therapeutic interventions based on an assessment of an individual with stroke
  • Describe the rationale and application of three evidence based strategies to increase upper extremity function after stroke
  • Design an exercise program for an individual following stroke related to their specific presentation.

Requirements to complete this course

In order to complete this course and receive a course completion certificate you will need to:

  1. abide by the Physiopedia Plus Community Culture
  2. log as completed all the required learning activities
  3. actively participate in the course forum discussions
  4. pass a final quiz with a score of 80% or more
  5. complete a course evaluation form


Feedback from participants:

I liked how much detail the course went into with the pathophysiology of stroke and how it explained the latest research into managing and treating and physical complications following stroke.

I enjoyed learning about the medical approach to acute stroke treatment and broadening my learning about the different assessment tools, outcome measures and clinical guidelines. I appreciated the fact that I now realise that therapists all over the world face similar issues such as insufficient staff to administer treatment or increased patient load and lack of resources to implement certain aspects of evidence based practice.