When you are having functional issues on a body part or organ, are you certain which type of doctor you should go to? Visiting the wrong doctor can be a costly mistake sometimes. This mistake may be out of your pocket or worse — your overall health.
You should promptly address your functional disability with a physiotherapist or physical therapist. What is physiotherapy? What is physical therapy?
Keep reading to learn more about the two and their differences.
Physiotherapy and Physical Therapy Defined
Physiotherapy and physical therapy look very similar in spelling. They even have similar definitions. It’s no wonder many get confused between the two. When you break down the definitions for each, you ultimately discover the two are not synonymous.
What is Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy is a form of treatment that restores normal movement and function when normal function is altered. Relearning mobility and fixing functional issues are needed for those with a disability. It may even occur if someone gets ill or injured (whether it’s short or long term).
Physiotherapy can help lower the chances a person can develop an illness or injury later on. This is beneficial for people in the early stages of altered function or those at risk.
Physiotherapists tend to care for patients with these problems at the hospital. For example, patients who may be recovering under post-operative care. Hospitals are the ideal workplace because life-threatening functional issues are treated.
However, physiotherapists today are not limited in working at hospitals alone. Other settings may have the equipment to provide sufficient care such as a clinic or school.
Physiotherapists depend on electrical equipment as their mode of technique and treatment. They use TENS, dry needles, ultrasounds, lasers, and other forms of non-manual treatment.
From time to time, corrective therapy and hands-on therapy are combined to monitor progress. Technological and manual equipment, electrotherapy are used to give the best care. The three also help as a form of pain management. Counseling is also added as part of the program.
Physiotherapists must train in school for four years and meet a certain number of clinical hours to be competent in the field.
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is another rehabilitative system that lays out specific exercises and equipment to improve or restore normal abilities. Physical therapy (PT) is different from physiotherapy in the sense it focuses on treating injuries classified as non-threatening.
As injuries are not life-threatening, these therapists are more likely to be in a clinical or private setting. Since exercise and physical equipment are primarily used, physical therapists are more hands-on.
The exercises and functional training provided by these trained professionals are enough to help patients recover. It’s not uncommon for physical therapists to take advantage of electrical modalities when they deem it necessary. There is no sole type of treatment used, but PT focuses on a more holistic approach via manual therapy.
Physical therapists also undergo the same amount of training. The length of schooling may vary when outside the US. For example, in Europe, it’s possible to be a PT in three years.
What Do Physiotherapists Treat?
There are many areas physiotherapists work in. Depending on the issue you have, you can find one who practices in sports, women’s health, research, pediatrics, or gerontology. A local physiotherapist will help you based on your particular condition.
There are three main types of physiotherapists: Neurological physiotherapists, cardiothoracic physiotherapists, and musculoskeletal physiotherapists.
These types of physiotherapists work with you to heal complications regarding the nervous system. Common issues that are reported tend to be those diagnosed with a stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, or spinal cord injuries. The most common reason people visit physiotherapists here is often because of spinal cord injuries.
These types of therapists will work with people who have problems related to the heart and chest. For example, they help patients who are suffering from bronchitis, asthma, and other cardio-respiratory health issues. If you have functional issues breathing, you will work alongside cardiologists.
Most people tend to visit a physiotherapist due to musculoskeletal reasons. Patients will come in for complaints such as low back pain, arthritis, sprains, muscle strains, and posture issues. Hip conditions, such as trochanteric bursitis, and shoulder conditions, such as impingement, are also treated.
What Do Physical Therapists Treat?
There is not much to say regarding treatment here. Physical therapists treat similar issues like physiotherapists do. So long as you understand the differences, as stated earlier, to mind, you will know what makes treatment from a PT different. You are likely to work with them when your complication is non-threatening.
Should I Visit a Physiotherapist or Physical Therapist?
If you are having problems with movement or function in any bodily system, you should visit a physiotherapist. Since physiotherapists study movement, they can help pinpoint any underlying causes. If the root problem is not found and corrected, you may never fully recover from treatment.
Whether you have an acute or chronic injury that results in impaired function or pain, it must be addressed. Most treatment options are covered by health insurance. If you have health insurance, you should still verify whether or not your provider covers what you need.
If your injury is minor, you may need to see a physical therapist. How will you know? So long as your injury is not extremely painful, complex, or life-threatening, you probably don’t need a physiotherapist.
Benefits of Physiotherapy and Physical Therapy
So what is physiotherapy and physical therapy and why is it critical to know the difference? The answer is in the complexity of your functional issue.
You do not have to go through recovery on your own when you are dealing with an illness, condition, or injury. There is help for people who lost function or moment of a body part.
You may be able to completely recover lost function with a physical therapist or physiotherapist. You may have to relearn how to do things differently from the norm. If this should happen, know that you will be in capable hands with the right people.
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