What Is The Difference Between An Exercise Physiologist And A Physiotherapist?

Most often than not, people who hear about an exercise physiologist often wonder if these professionals are the same as physiotherapists. The answer is No. Each of these professionals has an area of specialization and should not be confused. Understanding the difference between these two distinct professional fields will help you to make informed decisions as to who you need and when. If you are interested in an in-depth analysis of both professional fields, navigate to this website.

Similarities Between Exercise Physiologist And Physiotherapists

There are a lot of similarities between the fields of exercise physiology and physiotherapy. These similarities add to the reasons why many people often confuse one professional for the other. Both physiotherapists and exercise physiologists undergo a four year undergraduate training or can choose a three year degree that requires further training. For those who take the 3-year degree route, a graduate diploma is required for exercise physiology while a master’s degree or doctorate is required for physiotherapy. Professional physiotherapy and exercise psychology services are both recognized and supported by Medicare, WorkCover, Transport Accident Commission (TAC), and private health funds.

In simple terms, professional exercise physiologists prescribe specific exercises aimed at addressing and managing a patient’s health condition. On the other hand, a physiotherapist focuses on using a variety of tools and hands-on skills to assess, diagnose, educate, and manage health conditions. There are certain instances where a patient may need one of these services, however, other instances may require assistance from both fields.

The Unique Aspects Of Physiotherapy

Physiotherapists address the needs of their patients across all the phases of injuries. With physiotherapists, patients can expect treatment approaches designed for the sub-acute injury phase, acute, and chronic phases. To reduce recovery time, early detection of health problems and fast attention is recommended. The acute phase of injuries lasts between a few weeks and about six months. This injury phase is commonly associated with inflammation or swelling, painful sensation, restriction in movement and function, and bruising. Patients who are experiencing any of these symptoms need to take fast actions to reduce recovery time and also to improve their health.

To address these sensations and discomforts, physiotherapists adopt a wide range of treatment modalities including soft tissue mobilization, dry needling, different types of massages, ultrasounds, and cold therapy. The physiotherapist may also prescribe self-massage techniques that help to reduce pressure and tension in the muscles.

Physiotherapists are also equipped and skilled to deliver injury diagnoses and prognoses. The diagnosis is often forwarded to an exercise physiologist for further action.

The Unique Aspects Of Exercise Physiology

Exercise physiology is focused on addressing issues affecting the lifestyle of patients. Exercise physiologists offer instructions and education on self-massage techniques and trigger point therapy while also using specialized equipment like trigger point balls and foam rollers to achieve desired outcomes.

These professionals can help patients to modify their lifestyles to address certain chronic health conditions like diabetes, cancer recovery, respiratory conditions, heart-related conditions, and mental health conditions. Overall, exercise physiologists aim to improve their patient’s health and wellness, increase the patient’s range of motion, and decrease the risk of morbidity.

Do I Need To See A Physiotherapist Or An Exercise Physiologist?

Many people find it confusing when they have to choose between seeing a physiotherapist and an exercise physiologist. To make the selection process easy, you can visit the nearest physiotherapist or exercise physiologist for help. It is important to note that every health condition is different and that is why you should only choose the best solution for your symptoms

In general, visit a physiotherapist if;

  • You are experiencing new and unexpected pain that has not been diagnosed
  • You have been involved in an accident or you have suffered a sports injury. You can also visit a physiotherapist after orthopedic surgery.
  • You need hands-on treatment to combat pain, tensed muscles, and other problems. Physiotherapists offer hand-on treatments like dry needling, massages, and spinal mobilizations.

While you are at your physiotherapist’s office, you can expect the following;

  • Your physiotherapists will carry out extensive examinations and arrive at a diagnosis based on your symptoms
  • Your physiotherapist will go through your medical history to design the right treatment approach to address your health needs.
  • You will be educated on the changes that are required to improve your overall health and wellness
  • Your physiotherapist may prescribe home exercises to help sore muscles heal faster, improve your range of motion, and more.
  • Your physiotherapist may also recommend manual therapy techniques while developing clear treatment and prevention plans.