“YOU should take up physiotherapy,” Hendriella’s father, a Doctor by profession suggested to her after returning from the annual medical symposium in 2007.
The discussion during the symposium that year was about the need for physiotherapy in the country. Hendriella Vilosi who comes from a mixed parentage of Bougainville and East New Britain province was doing grade 11 then. She had not decided on a career yet.
“I was one of those students who went to school because everyone else was going. I did not have an aim; I had not decided on who I wanted to be in the future.”
Hendriella had no idea what physiotherapy was so she asked her dad to explain to her, but instead he told her why she had to take it. He said: “You love sports and you will get to travel the world.”
“That’s all he said. He did not explain anything to me about physiotherapy. Having no future goal or dream career myself, I decided to go with dad’s suggestion.”
Hendriella took the first step to this path by going to study physiotherapy program at Divine Word University (DWU) in 2009. Hendriella enjoyed her four years of studies because she basically grew up in the hospital since both her parents were health workers- mum, a nurse (retired) and dad, a doctor (about to retire). Hendriella graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 2012 and she got her first job with Papua New Guinea (PNG) Sports Foundation under the High-Performance Division.
“While there (at PNG Sports Foundation), we were looking after our national athletes, but I did my own work after hours by attending to stoke patients and those who needed my help.”
Hendriella saw that the work she was doing after hours was going well and growing too so she decided to step out from PNG Sports Foundation; she decided to focus on doing her own work. That was when she established her physiotherapy clinic, Active PhysioFix. The year was 2020.
Hendriella was motivated to start her clinic when she noticed that physiotherapy was still really new in the country and not many people knew what it could do to help them. She wanted to give something back to the country and to the profession with the experience that she had.
“The need for physiotherapy in the country is big and also, a lot of students who graduate with a qualification in physiotherapy have a hard time finding jobs. The accessibility for the service is still low and so is employment opportunities in this field so I decided to venture out to provide an avenue for people to access the service, which is a really much needed service in the country.”
Hendriella pointed out that there are people out there in this country who need physiotherapy but they don’t know where to go to get help.
“When your body aches or when you break your hand, leg or neck, you can go see a doctor who will give you medicine to relieve pain but you would still come to a stage where you will need physiotherapy. Physiotherapists can work with any physical impairments in the body, or any pain that affects your normal daily life.”
Active PhysioFix offers rehabilitation for stroke patients and the injured, and they also provide massages, and physiotherapy consultation and treatment. Apart from running the clinic, Hendriella is also doing awareness for people to realize the need for physiotherapy.
“I am slowly using social media and also mainstream media to do awareness and people are now starting to realize the need for physiotherapy. We can’t just set up a physiotherapy clinic and not do awareness on what it does or can do. That is why we are doing both- awareness and accessibility to service.”
Hendriella also wants her work to motivate others to start their own physiotherapy clinics so together they can provide the service to help the country.
“The only competition will be with the outsiders (foreigners providing the service in the country) because they are well established whilst we are just starting out. We (PNG physiotherapists) just have to help ourselves but run our own businesses. If you (a PNG physiotherapist) are passionate about starting one (a clinic) then just start; don’t wait. Things will slowly fall in place as you go along.”
Active PhysioFix is slowly growing. It started off as a mobile service where Hendriella visited her clients at their homes. Now she has been given a space to use as her clinic but one has to climb the stairs to get to it, which Hendriella says is not conducive for her clients so she is looking at finding a place on the ground level.
“Also, I was alone when I started out but I have other physiotherapists here now. I don’t do this (running the clinic) just for business but I am also bringing in young physiotherapists to mentor them and build them up so they can look for jobs, or I can employ them when I am ready to start employing. Last year, 2021, there were physiotherapists from Port Moresby General Hospital who came through me to be trained under sports. I gave them the opportunity to expand their skills.”
Hendriella’s future goal is to get her clinic to look and be like a physiotherapy set-up and also to have the same set-up at various locations in the country so she can look at employing young physiotherapists who are on the queue of unemployment. Hendriella, soon to be 33 is happy that she took on her dad’s suggestion to take up physiotherapy. Despite the challenges like getting on a cab or asking her friends for a lift to get to her clients, she is happy to be where she is at now.
“I am passionate about what I am doing.”
As for Hendriella’s dad, he is the proudest dad ever.
“He was and is still proud of the path that I am in now, the path that he suggested that I should take. I try to calm him down to not talk too much about me to other people. He is a proud dad.”

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