Is there a difference between physiotherapy and physical therapy?
There is no difference between physiotherapy and physical therapy. Both terms are used interchangeably all over the world. In the United States, people most commonly use the term “physical therapy,” whereas in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, the word “physiotherapy” is used.
Physical therapy is one of the medical health specialties that helps to ease muscle and joint pain and improve your physical functions through
- Physical examination
- Physical intervention
- Patient education
- Disease prevention
Physical therapy is practiced by licensed physical therapists (PTs). PTs are also known as physiotherapists in many countries.
Physical therapy can be provided as a primary care treatment or as a supporting therapy to other medical services.
What do physical therapists do?
Physical therapists (PTs) help you to move or perform your daily functions when you cannot do so due to some illness or injury.
Just like physicians, PTs use an individual's history and physical examination to arrive at a diagnosis. They may ask for your investigation reports, such as blood tests, and imaging studies, such as X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), when making the management plan. PTs in the United Kingdom even have the authority to prescribe medications.
PTs make use of the following modalities
- Specific exercises
- Manipulation (a fast, accurate movement on the neck or back area for pain relief and improved flexibility)
- Manual therapy (“hands-on” therapy without using machines or devices to reduce pain and improve joint movements)
- Traction (“stretching” the spine manually or with the help of traction equipment)
- Electrophysical modalities
- Prostheses (assisted devices such as splints and braces that you wear on their limbs to help you move)
Sometimes, the word “physiotherapist” is used for professionals who also offer manual therapy. If you are visiting a “physical therapist” with an intent to receive manual therapy, remember to ask them if they offer manual therapy as well.
PTs work in many specialty areas such as
- Orthopedics (the study of the joints and muscles)
- Cardiopulmonary (the study of the respiratory and cardiovascular system)
- Neurology (the study of the brain and nerves)
- Sports medicine (the study of injuries related to sports)
- Geriatrics (the study of old age illnesses)
- Pediatrics (the study of children healthcare and their diseases)
- Women's health
PTs also help develop fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.
PTs in the United States can be those with any of these degrees
- Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
- Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)
- Bachelor of Physical therapy (BPT)
Where do you get a PT?
You can visit a PT in either of the two ways. You can either ask the doctor for a prescription for physical therapy or directly contact the PT without a prescription. This depends on your health status, whether the body will allow it. Moreover, check your insurance policy if they need a doctor’s prescription to cover the cost of your physical therapy.
PTs can sometimes come to your home to provide you their services. They can be seen working in
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