In my industry, this is the age old question: “What’s the difference between a Biokineticist and a Physiotherapist?”. I get asked this at least once a day (and that’s not me overexaggerating!). So I thought this article was long overdue. I’m writing this with the hope that I can give you some insight into how these 2 professions are different, yet how they work very closely together; as well as to help you understand when you should see a Biokineticist and when to see a Physiotherapist.
Stage of Recovery/Rehabilitation
The first and most important difference between these 2 professions is that you will see each of them at a different stage of your injury recovery/rehabilitation journey. Once you’re injured, you might find yourself at the Doctors office, who is most likely going to send you to a physiotherapist first. The physio will then assist you, before later referring you on to a Bio. So that being said, physio’s form part of your primary rehab phase, whilst Bio’s are seen as part of your final recovery/rehab phase.
Scope & Method of Treatment
Although these 2 professions often get intermingled in the eyes of the public, their scope of work and the methods they use to treat are vastly different.
Physiotherapists are seen as the pain specialists – their main goal is to reduce your pain and assist you in regaining pain free movement. Physio’s are hands on in their treatments, using manipulation and myofascial release techniques, as well as other hands on methods, all focused on relieving pain and improving range of motion.
Once your Physio has reduced your pain and you are able to move pain-free, your Biokineticist will then focus on returning/improving your strength & endurance, enhance your technique in certain movements & exercises and teach you maintenance strategies – all of this to ensure that you are bullet-proofed against reinjury or future new injuries. So Bio’s not only work to rehab your current injury, but also assist in injury prevention. Biokineticists are known as exercise specialists. Not only do they assist in injury recovery, they also use exercise as medicine for chronic diseases and special populations. There is a vast amount of research which supports the use of exercise in preventing and reducing the risk of heart disease, strokes, Diabetes and neuromuscular conditions. Due to their specialist knowledge in the field of scientifically-based exercise, Biokineticists can prescribe exercise to almost all populations to benefit their quality of life, including the elderly, children, people with disabilities and people who need to make a conscious lifestyle change to take control of their health.
So who do I go see – a Physio or a Bio?
In summary, here is my basic rule of thumb:
Go see a Physio when: you are in pain, if pain is limiting your movement, or if you have sustained a new injury/just had surgery. After a few sessions with the physio, he/she should recommend completing your rehabilitation with a Biokineticist. If not, don’t hesitate to ask your physio for a Biokineticist in your area. Completing your rehab process is crucial to prevent reinjury!
Go see a Bio when: you have completed your physio sessions, you have relatively pain-free movement and need to regain strength, endurance & stability to return to sport or daily activities; if you want to improve your posture; if you want to prevent future injuries and enhance your performance; if you have a chronic disease for which exercise is beneficial; to improve your quality of life; if you want to start exercising again/for the first time and to do so safely; and lastly if you need guidance on making a healthy lifestyle change.
For more info on what a Bio can do for you, go check out my earlier blog post:
“Why everyone needs a Biokineticist”