Physical Therapy vs. Physiotherapy

Physical therapy and physiotherapy – they sound very similar, but do they have the same meaning? According to Dr. Carter of Carter Physiotherapy, the answer is yes. However, the answer may differ depending on which country you are in. For example, in Australia the term physiotherapist is more common and considered a higher-ranking job compared to physical therapy because it requires more education. However in the United States, the words may be used interchangeably. However there are minute differences between the two.

Both physical therapists and physiotherapists work with patients who have suffered an injury or are recovering from surgery. They both help those who suffer from chronic conditions to help improve their quality of life. They work in similar settings such as long-term care facilities, hospitals, doctors offices or private clinics.  Also, both have a foundation in the medical field. Some conditions that both can treat include:

  • Sports Injuries
  • Injuries from accidents
  • Recovery after surgery
  • Joint mobility
  • Ligament and Tendon conditions
  • Chronic pain

The common belief is that physical therapy entails an exercise-based approach, whereas physiotherapy involves more of a hands-on approach. The exercise-based approach allows for strengthening of muscles and improves balance while the hands-on approach helps with joint mobilization and soft tissue release. One striking difference between the two is how they treat pain. Physiotherapists may use electrotherapy techniques such as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). On the other hand, a physical therapist may not specifically used the TENS method.

At Cornerstone Rehab, we use the term physical therapy and work with older adults in long-term care settings. Our clinicians are skilled to provide individualized treatment that is right for them. Learn how you can join our team.