17 Nov Physical therapist, physiotherapist, or physio? What’s the difference? By Dr. Chelsea Walter
They all refer to the same profession!
If you’re reading this in the US, you’ve likely heard of physical therapy but it’s less likely that you’ve heard of physiotherapy. If you’re reading this outside of the US, you’ve likely heard of both.
Essentially, the only difference is geography.
All three titles refer to a highly trained “movement expert who improves quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education” (per the APTA). Physiotherapist or physio is what most of the world calls that individual. We, of course as Americans, like to mix things up and started calling that same individual a physical therapist.
Physiotherapy was first coined in the mid to late 1800s for people working with gymnasts using massage and exercise. The field grew during the polio epidemic and WWI where practitioners were called reconstruction aides. With more education and training, they became physical therapists in the US. In my brief research for this post, I could not find any reason why physical therapist was used instead of physiotherapist.
Physio is becoming more prevalent in niche private practice here as more clinicians are branching out on their own. I took a quick poll of some PTs I know who named their practices with the word “physio”. It was a resounding response of “because it was shorter than physical therapy”.
Physical therapy, physiotherapy, and physio all refer to the same field but no two clinicians are the same. You’ll find a variety of different treatment styles and techniques across the country and even within the same office. For that reason, we believe in collaborative care here at Anchor Wellness Center.
About the author:
Dr. Walter is a Doctor of Physical Therapy with an emphasis on treatment of spinal conditions. She graduated from Saint Louis University in 2014 with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy and completed undergraduate work at the same institution. From 2018 to 2019, she was a post-graduate resident with the McKenzie Institute. There she achieved certification in the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) and board certification in orthopaedics (OCS). Chelsea enjoys working with clients who are active in the gym or with recreational sports. She has led an active lifestyle from early on in life and enjoys hiking, travel, and spending time with family.