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What’s the difference between a Physiotherapist and an Exercise Physiologist?

With the recent introduction of dedicated Accredited Exercise Physiologists (EP) to our team of Physiotherapists, we are being asked frequently how the professions differ.

Personally, as a Physiotherapist and an EP, even I can find it difficult to decipher the difference at times. Realistically, if you have a Physiotherapist who has an excellent understanding of strength and conditioning and the role of exercise in the rehabilitation of a persons injury, condition or disability, then the differences are minimal.

Both professions have a common end goal when it comes to treating patients and both can work within a varied scope of practice but hopefully, I can clarify some differences.

The primary difference is a Physiotherapist is able to diagnose and provide a prognosis. In addition to this, Physios are able to provide hands-on therapy (mobilisation, manipulation, dry-needling, muscle activation and electrotherapy) in conjunction with exercise prescription to aid with injury prevention, management and rehabilitation. An EP can receive an injury diagnosis and deliver a specialised exercise-based rehabilitation program. 

An EP has extensive training in understanding the body’s response to exercise. EPs may specialise in providing lifestyle eduction and modifications to support those with a wide range of chronic health conditions (including cancer, diabetes, respiratory conditions, mental health conditions and cardiac-related conditions) to promote improved health and wellness and decrease the risk of all-cause morbidity.

So, how do you know who to see, when, and what for?

When to see a Physiotherapist

  • Do you have a pain that is new, unexpected, or not yet diagnosed?
  • Or you have an acute sports injury, or have recently undergone orthopaedic surgery?
  • Do you require hands-on treatment for symptomatic relief such as acupuncture, mobilisation or manipulation?

When to see an Exercise Physiologist

  • Are you recovering from an injury, or have a prior injury that you do not want to exacerbate, however, wish to get fit and healthy?
  • Do you have a chronic health condition (such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, asthma, obesity, osteoporosis etc) which exercise could assist with?
  • If you have goals around losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight?
  • Do you see a specifically tailored and preserved exercise program that will meet your health and wellness needs?

Realistically, there is a degree of overlap between both professions as they aid in treating many different conditions and aspects of health and wellbeing; often working together to provide you with the best possible rehabilitative outcome. Here at On the Go Rehab, depending on your referral, you may first be assessed by a Physiotherapist. They will determine who can provide the best treatment/management for your condition and ultimately ensure you get the best possible outcome.

If you are still unsure of who you should be seeing then please call us on 0429115211 or simply fill out our Contact form and we will have someone call you to discuss.

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