Nurse Performing Physical Therapy on Woman

Physical Therapy vs. Physiotherapy: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to your health as a senior, you do the best you can to keep up with scientific breakthroughs and updates in the medical field, but sometimes it can be overwhelming to keep track of all the terminology. With any luck, you have a good relationship with your doctor and can get all of your questions answered by your healthcare professional. However, there is no harm in doing a bit of research on your own!

As our bodies age, the need for various therapies to lessen pain and increase mobility becomes greater. The benefits of physical therapy for seniors is profound. You may have also heard the term physiotherapy tossed around in medical settings. So, what is physiotherapy, and what is the difference between physical therapy and physiotherapy? Many doctors and health care staff field questions about this all the time, and, for good reason. There is a bit of confusion about the difference between physical therapy and physiotherapy.

Solved: The Difference Between Physical Therapy and Physiotherapy

For the most part, physical therapy and physiotherapy are two terms that are used interchangeably. That is to say, most people do not make a distinction between the two modalities. In many countries around the world physiotherapy is the term most commonly used to describe the practice. However, in the United States, physical therapy is the dominant term and physiotherapy can either describe physical therapy or be used to describe a therapy with little difference to physical therapy. All of this to say, there is little, if any, difference between physical therapy and physiotherapy.

Even so, a small, but notable difference between physical therapy and physiotherapy could be claimed. Some healthcare workers say that physiotherapy is a hands-on approach to rehabilitation therapy, whereby the physiotherapist uses manual techniques to aid the patient in their therapy. This could include help with deepening stretches and other approaches. Some would also make the assertion that physical therapy is a largely exercise-based therapy. Despite any potential disagreement on the matter, one thing that is certain is that there are many benefits of physical therapy for seniors.

Physical therapists in the United States undergo in-depth training and are in school almost as many years as a surgeon is! Not only that, but physical therapists continue their education throughout their career to learn any new modalities and they also benefit from a large community of physical therapists in their networks who can share ideas and promote learning among one another. 

Physical therapists are highly skilled in their areas and implement a range of treatments for their patients. It is true that physical therapy is exercise-based, but it is also true that it can incorporate other healing modalities such as craniosacral therapy, massage and ultrasound.  All of these modalities work together to create the maximum amount of healing for the patient. 

What’s more, physical therapists are often charged with empowering their patients to recognize the body’s ability to self-heal. Physical therapists give patients exercises to practice at home on their own in many cases and promote daily wellbeing for patients. These are just some of the benefits of physical therapy for seniors that you will learn about. 

Benefits of Physical Therapy for Seniors

As we have mentioned, physical therapists use a broad range of tools to help a patient who is suffering from chronic sickness and pain. When deciding the difference between physical therapy and physiotherapy many suggest that physiotherapy includes such manual therapies as aided stretching, soft tissue release and fascial release, but as we have discussed, physical therapists commonly employee those very modalities. Physical therapists also have the goal of using exercise to strengthen muscles, improve balance and help with coordination. 

The benefits of physical therapy for seniors can be the prevention of injury, healthy breathing practices and the use of breathwork as a regular practice, an improvement in flexibility and the lessening of acute pain. Physical therapy can help a senior strengthen the muscles in their body, which can be tremendously helpful for problems like arthritis. By strengthening muscles, seniors are also reducing their chances of injuring themselves in the future. Stronger bodies tend to heal faster, and as seniors well know, an injury like a slip and fall can have life-changing consequences. 

Physical therapy can also be extremely helpful to seniors living with daily pain such as neck pain, old injuries, joint pain and problems like carpal tunnel syndrome. Many chronic problems that are common among seniors can be effectively managed with physical therapy as part of a dynamic overall healthcare plan.

Physical therapists mainly treat patients with quality of life problems that are the inevitable result of chronic conditions. For many, chronic conditions and pain is a normal part of the aging process. For some, exercise and a healthy diet is 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. 

Cano Health offers wellness centers that are designed to keep you healthy and happy. Contact us today to learn more.


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