Physical therapy. Physiotherapy. Are you one of those who seem to be confused between the two? Is there a difference or just a matter of preference? In this post, we’ll tackle this topic and hopefully put an end to this confusion. 

Physical Therapy vs. Physiotherapy

For some, physiotherapy is perceived as a more personal and hands-on process of rehabilitation. As such, physiotherapists may assist you in recovery by following a manual approach, including stretching, joint mobilization, soft tissue release, and fascial release. 

On the other hand, physical therapy can be considered a highly exercise-based process. This means that the therapist’s role is mainly to teach the patient how to improve their balance, strengthen their muscles, and improve their coordination. 

In recent years, however, this distinction seems to have waned. Some people believe that this distinction depends on where you are living. For example, a person living in Michigan with lower back pain may be referred to physical therapy in Dearborn to treat the condition. In contrast, the same procedure would be called physiotherapy in British Columbia. In practical terms, there may be no difference at all when it comes to the treatments they provide. 

Both of the practices go through the same medical background and aim to see their patients improve in their present condition and prevent further injuries. They are also trained to help their patients manage their acute pain and enhance their flexibility. 

Choosing Your Therapist

Regardless of what you want to call them, the most crucial decision you can make is to know what to look for in a therapist. Your goal is always to choose the one that would take your welfare to heart. Here’s what you can do to ensure you find the right therapist for you. 

1. Ask for Recommendations

Start with your friends or family. They are the most reliable when it comes to directing you to the appropriate therapist for your needs. Once they recommend a therapist or a clinic, check their online reviews to make sure that other patients echo their experience. 

2. Check the Location

If you are in pain, the ideal clinic should be the one most accessible to you. It is also best to check whether their clinic has parking and a wheelchair ramp, just in case you need them when you go for your sessions. 

3. Verify the Certifications

When you check the clinic, be on the lookout for their certifications. It may also be best to check if they are accredited or a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Once they are certified, you have the assurance that they abide by the rules of their governing body. 

4. Check Available Schedule

You also have to consider if the clinic has an available slot that can accommodate your schedule. Compliance is one of the most significant factors to ensure the success of your rehabilitation. If you cannot commit to your sessions because of scheduling issues, then it will all be futile. 

5. Verify Receipt Issuance

Ideally, clinics must be registered with their local government. It would also be best if you can be issued receipts since you will need these to file your health insurance claim

6. Feel the Environment

If ever you feel awkward with any of the therapists, it would be best to choose another one. Your rehabilitation will not give you the best results if you cannot feel comfortable with your therapist. If you have a generally bad feeling about the clinic, don’t go back. 

One of the main reasons why people seek the help of a physical therapist or a physiotherapist is because they want to get better. No matter what you call them, what matters is that they can address your concerns. 

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "Physical Therapy vs. Physiotherapy: Is There a Difference?," in Medicalopedia, April 23, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/8712/physical-therapy-vs-physiotherapy-is-there-a-difference/].