The main distinction between physical therapy and physiotherapy is the way they focus on healing. Physical therapists typically use a manual, hands-on approach with push-ups, stretches, and soft tissue and fascial massages. On the other hand, physiotherapy uses practical therapy, but adds an exercise-based approach. Generally, there are no major differences between physical therapy and physiotherapy.
We simply use different terms to reflect different regions of the world. Both professions work with the same practical approach, using similar tools and techniques to improve quality of life by restoring muscle function, improving mobility and reducing pain. A major difference between physical therapy and physiotherapy is the way they focus on healing. For example, the terms “physical” and “physiological”, although they seem to have similar roots, have completely different meanings.
Physical therapists are highly trained in their areas and implement a variety of treatments for their patients. Some countries have their own version of the word physical therapist, such as kinesiologist, but they are all part of the same profession. However, in practice, the two professions of physical therapy and physiotherapy are virtually identical. For some, exercise and a healthy diet are enough to keep symptoms at bay, but for millions of Americans, physical therapy is one of the best therapies available to improve their quality of life.
Once your physical therapist has evaluated your condition and formulated a plan, you'll undergo physical therapy or physiotherapy.
If this is your first time seeing a physical therapist, you can count on the following format for your appointment, regardless of whether you are a physical therapist or a physiotherapist.However, in the United States, the predominant term is physical therapy and physiotherapy can describe physical therapy or be used to describe therapy with little difference from physical therapy. As already noted, while the reality is that these terms can be used interchangeably, most clinics in the United States can use the term physical therapy. In these countries, the physical therapist profession is considered to be a lower professional job than physiotherapy, as physiotherapy requires less education.
It is true that physiotherapy is based on exercise, but it is also true that it can incorporate other healing modalities such as craniosacral therapy, massage and ultrasound. According to the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association), physical therapists are “movement experts” who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, practical care and patient education. Ask any physical therapist and they'll admit that physical therapy and physiotherapy are remarkably similar careers.