Miss Manfield and Mr Williams who started physiotherapy practice in Nigeria in 1945 had as part of their duties; the responsibility of starting a training programme in physiotherapy. They started a three-year Diploma Course. The three-year diploma course was attended by a number on Nigerians.
On completion of the training and passing out of the school, they were designated as Assistant Physiotherapist. They were specifically asked to work strictly under the supervision of Chartered Physiotherapists who had trained in England.
With time, the training programme at Igbobi was discontinued. Just before then, plans were in progress to start a diploma course at University College Hospital, Ibadan. This was later changed to the Bachelor of Science Degree in Physiotherapy at the University of Ibadan. Students would be able to learn about medical symptoms, pathophysiology, physiotherapy diagnoses and interventions.
The course took off in October 1966. The graduation of the foundation students in Ibadan in 1969 was a landmark in the annals of physiotherapy in Nigeria. Thus, University of Ibadan was the first in Nigeria and West Africa, to award a degree in physiotherapy.
In 1971, University of Lagos commenced a three-year diploma course, which was upgraded to a four year Bachelor of Science Degree in 1977. University of Ife, Ile-Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) followed Ibadan and Lagos in 1977. The program at Ile-Ife was for a four year Bachelor of Medical Rehabilitation.
The University of Nigeria, Nsukka also commenced a 5-years Bachelor of Medical Rehabilitation (Physiotherapy) degree programme in 1987. In 1990,a training programme also took off at the Bayero University, in Kano (Formerly, Federal School of Physiotherapy) to award a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physiotherapy. A sixth and seventh program recently kicked off at the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), Borno State and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi Campus.
The programme of the Nnamdi Aziikiwe University which started in 2004 has produced the first set of Physiotherapists in September 2009. Two new programmes have started in University of Benin and University of Ilorin with admission of students due to commence soon. Hopefully, all Nigerian Physiotherapy program may soon transit to a 6-years Doctor of Physiotherapy program if the advocacy for the DPT program by the NSP and her members succeeds.
Advanced Masters and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs (MSc and PhD in Physiotherapy or Medical Rehabilitation) are available at the University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University, the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus while the University of Lagos started in 2008.
The products of the Universities are practising as Physiotherapists in many establishments in Nigeria and abroad, with a sizeable number in United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada either as Academicians, Clinicians Researchers or pursuing postgraduate courses and working to gain further experience and for pecuniary purpose.
Also a good number of Nigerian Physiotherapists are known to be in employment in Saudi-Arabia and South Africa. The vogue at home has gradually shifted from working in teaching, state and specialized hospitals to venturing into private practice by a handful of practitioners.