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Physical therapy vs. physiotherapy: Is there a difference?

Physiotherapy vs Physical Therapy
3 minutes, 16 seconds

You’ve heard of physical therapy and you probably have a pretty general idea of what it means. But have you heard of physiotherapy? Maybe you have, but you’re unsure what exactly physiotherapy is or how it even relates to physical therapy.

Physical therapy is a health care field that involves the work of professional physical therapists to treat, protect and maintain a patient’s physical health. You might be surprised to learn that physiotherapy is actually the same thing. The two terms can be used interchangeably, and both refer to the professional care of an individual’s health by a physical therapist. The root word “physio” comes from Greek and when translated into English means “nature.” The Greek word “therapia” is where the English variant of the word “therapy” comes from. Loosely translated, physiotherapy is a form of natural therapy. 

Some people, however, insist on drawing a distinction between the two. This variance mostly depends on geographical location, but some professionals would prefer to say that physical therapy is less concerned with manually focused therapy than physiotherapy. To some, physiotherapy uses more people-based therapy techniques than exercise-machine-based therapy. However, in the U.S., most physical therapy clinics use a mix of manual therapy and exercise therapy to treat their patients.

Now that you know the defining differences between physical therapy and physiotherapy, you may also be interested to learn about some of the biggest benefits of receiving this type of care. 

What are some of the benefits of physical therapy?

  • Decreasing your risk of future injury — One of the advantages of physical therapy is that it can help decrease your risk of the same injury occurring. Physiotherapists are professionally trained in helping patients build strength around the area of injury so it’s better protected in the future. The strength-building process can help protect your injury from worsening or becoming aggravated. Your therapist can also educate you on which movements you should actively avoid so that you don’t exacerbate your injury any further.
  • Improving mobility — Not only can physical therapy decrease your risk of future injury, but it can also help improve your mobility. Physiotherapists can guide you through a series of exercises and manual manipulation techniques to get your body moving to the best of its ability. Limited mobility can be a result of trauma, stress and inactivity, but no matter the cause, your physical therapist will work to help you become more mobile and improve your range of motion.
  • Helping you manage pain levels — Physiotherapists can work with you to manage pain and discomfort. If you’re someone who deals with pain from a chronic condition, they will work to treat the root of your condition and help manage your symptoms. They understand how chronic pain can lead to decreased quality of life and will work with you toward living more comfortably with your condition.
  • Promoting your recovery from physical trauma — If you’ve recently experienced a physically traumatic injury, a physical therapist can help you work toward recovery. They’re experts in physical recovery. Physiotherapists and physical therapists can guide you through the healing process with safety and swiftness in the forefront of their minds. They can tell you what you should and shouldn’t do to avoid prolonging the process, and they’ll work within your pain threshold.
  • Enhancing performance — Another benefit of going to physical therapy is that you can go regardless of whether you have an injury. Athletes often go to physical therapy to enhance their performance. Physical therapy can help athletes understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie and provide the help they need to strengthen those weak points. This type of training can enhance athletic capabilities while also protecting the athlete’s body from potential injuries. 

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT to better your physical well-being

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. 

Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address your physical health and well-being. 

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find help for your injury or chronic condition today!


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