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Physiotherapy vs Physical Therapy: What Are The Differences?

Healing is at the center of physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy in other parts of the world, where the two terms are used interchangeably to refer to the same thing. Physiotherapy is used primarily in Canada, Europe, and Australia, while physical therapy is the preferred term in the United States. 

However, there’s a belief that differences exist between the two terms. For those that consider a distinction, it’s found in the approach to treatment or focus on healing. Accordingly, both terms refer to a manual and hands-on approach used to train patients through the recovery journey, with the distinction found in physical therapy that includes an exercise-oriented approach.

For this article, physiotherapy and physical therapy refer to the same thing. 

Physiotherapy At A Glance

Physical therapy aims to manage symptoms involving various physical rehabilitation methods and techniques without using drugs, medications, or surgical interventions. It can be an effective approach to improving one’s function and mobility, especially after an injury, illness, or disability. In addition, it also helps healthy individuals whose daily occupations involve long sitting hours while driving or hunched over a computer to minimize their future risk of injury or illness caused by posture.

Professional physiotherapists should have academic training, earn a doctor of physical therapy degree, and pass a state licensure exam before being able to practice. Their academic exposure involves studying the science of movement that enables the identification of the root cause of pain or injury in the human body.

Moreover, physical therapists undergo intense training to acquire the knowledge and skills that enhance the treatment and management of neurological, neuromusculoskeletal, respiratory, and cardiovascular conditions.

When To See A Physiotherapist

While most people tend to visit a physical therapist due to symptoms like injury or unexplained aches that affect their mobility, there are other reasons why seeing a professional can benefit you. For one, you can visit Easy Allied Health or other professional physiotherapists to enhance your health and well-being by maximizing your capacity for physical movement and function.

But as good a reference, below is a list of signs and symptoms that may indicate the need to plan a visit with a physical therapist:

1.Declining Mobility

Road accidents, injuries, degenerative conditions, and even the normal aging process can severely affect physical mobility. A physiotherapist is skilled at rehabilitation techniques and will work with you to train target muscle groups to improve your mobility and daily quality of life.

2.Recurring Injury

A physiotherapist’s assessment may be of immense benefit if you have an injury that persists over an extended period. Your physiotherapist can locate the origin of your recurring injury and devise a treatment plan to get you up and about in a few weeks.

3.After A Complicated Surgical Procedure

Hip and knee replacement surgeries are examples of extensive surgeries that heal better and faster with pre- and post-surgical physical therapy interventions. Consider seeing a physical therapist a couple of weeks in advance if you or a loved one is scheduled for a knee or hip replacement procedure.

Physiotherapy vs Physical Therapy
Female patient exercising with her physiotherapist using resistance band. Physical therapy concept.

4.When Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Since physiotherapists also focus on disease prevention, it can be beneficial for you to schedule regular appointments to help you with the following:

  • Improved Posture

Poor posture is the leading cause of persistent pain experienced by students or individuals in occupations that require sitting for long periods. Many back, neck, and limb pain cases are often traced to poor posture.

A competent physiotherapist can pick nuances about your physical body from your posture as you sit or stand or by watching you walk or move. They can best help you work on your posture by advising on the ideal ergonomic setup and suggesting stretching exercises to improve your major stability muscles.

  • Injury Prevention

Suppose you’re planning on joining the gym or taking up a physically exerting activity like trekking or sports. A visit to a physiotherapist may be a good place to start. They can assess your physical form for strength and flexibility and help you minimize the risk of injuries.

  • Flexibility And Mobility

When your work involves sitting at a desk most of the day, a physical therapist can program a stretching and flexibility routine that allows you to move your body regularly. This enables you to stretch different muscle groups in the neck, back, hands, and legs.

  • Post-Partum Exercises

Pregnancy and childbirth subject a woman’s body to excessive strain that affects specific muscles. Some women who join the gym to get back to shape often find that they can’t keep up with most movements involving muscles, joints, and ligaments. Some quit due to frustration.

Working with a physiotherapist during the post-partum period can be more effective, given their understanding of the effects of pregnancy and childbirth on the female body. A physiotherapist will design post-partum workouts that cater to the needs of new mothers.

Final Words

The terms physiotherapy and physical therapy are almost interchangeable. They both offer manual and hands-on approaches to aid in patient rehabilitation with a little difference.

Essentially, physical therapists offer a broad range of services that can help enhance a person’s overall physical and, by extension, mental well-being. Scheduling your appointment with a team of qualified physiotherapists who can assess and diagnose various conditions can be beneficial in having improved mobility and a better quality of life.

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