What Is the Difference Between Physical Therapist and Physiotherapist?

Physical therapists and physiotherapists are both healthcare professionals who help people improve their mobility, reduce joint pain, and increase activity levels. But what is the difference between these two professions?

The answer lies in the qualifications they need to operate. For example, a shoulder physiotherapist Melbourne has to get approval from the Australian Physiotherapy Association, a professional body that sets standards for physiotherapists.

A physical therapist can be educated in many ways but must have at least an undergraduate or master’s degree before being allowed to practice.

Physio Takes a More Hands-on Approach

Physiotherapists work with a patient to help them improve their movement and reduce pain. They use a more hands-on approach, which translates to manual techniques such as massages or muscle manipulation to treat injuries.

While physios typically have more hands-on experience with their patients than physical therapists do, they can also use many of the fancy modalities available, such as electrotherapy and ultrasound.

In contrast, physical therapists are trained in the science of how bodies work and understand complex injuries than physiotherapists typically do. That translates to better diagnosis of complex injuries, but physiotherapists do a better job at treating them comprehensively.

Physical Therapy Is Largely Exercise-based Therapy

Physical therapists are trained to help people with injury recovery from exercise, and they often work closely with assistants who provide the “hands-on” part of treatment. It use many modalities to treat patients, including ultrasound, hot/cold packs, electrical stimulation, massage techniques, and manipulation. And they often work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, and private practices.

Physical Therapy Can Be Used to Treat a Wider Range of Conditions

Physical therapists are trained in more modalities, which means they can treat many types of injuries. They can handle things like occupational therapy, neurological disorders, sports-related issues, and even cardiopulmonary conditions.

Physiotherapy is more widely used because it has fewer limitations than physical therapy does. That puts physiotherapists in a better position to treat patients suffering from common issues such as back pain or arthritis. Still, it also means that they are limited to minor injuries and conditions.

Physical therapy is often used to manage chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes because it helps people keep their symptoms under control through regular exercises, stretches, and massages. This lowers the risk of complications down the road.

Physical Therapy Is More Likely to Be Used in Sports-Related Injuries

A physical therapist may be more likely to use manual techniques such as massage and neuromas, which means they can treat a wider range of injuries than physio can.

Physical therapists are trained in exercise therapy, so it is not unusual for them to work with athletes who want to improve their performance and prevent injuries.

It is often work in hospital settings, which means they are the preferred choice for many orthopedic surgeons when a patient has suffered an injury, such as a hip fracture or shoulder dislocation. Physical therapy is also ideal for patients with neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.

A lot of Physiotherapists Run Private Practises in Australia

A lot of physiotherapists are running private practices these days. They do not have as many job opportunities as physical therapists, who often work in hospitals or nursing homes.

Physiotherapy treatment can be expensive for patients going through insurance coverage, especially if multiple surgeries are needed and the patient has a pre-existing condition.

Physiotherapists may be more likely to have private practices compared to physical therapists because they work with a wider range of injuries and conditions. Using their highly effective manual techniques, these professionals can help improve patients’ quality of life even if the injury is not serious. For example, someone diagnosed with arthritis or diabetes can use physiotherapy to improve their mobility, so they do not have as many issues completing daily tasks.


Licensing requirements for physiotherapists vary from state to state in Australia.

In some places, all physical therapists need a bachelor’s degree and must complete clinical internships before operating in the country. Other states do not have these restrictions, so they leave all background checks to the physio clinic people.

Most physiotherapists do not need to be licensed because they only work in private practices. Still, physical therapists who want to open their own practice may have difficulty finding insurance providers that will cover the cost of treatment for patients if they don’t have the proper paperwork.

Both professions are valuable, and their popularity continues to grow at a rapid rate. In fact, Australia is experiencing a rise in demand for physiotherapists right now because patients use this type of treatment for long-term conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes. So, there’s no doubt that physical therapists will continue to gain momentum in the healthcare industry in the coming years.

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