Most people usually are not aware of the difference between a physiotherapist and a sports physiotherapist and which professional would be the best to consult for injuries. The fact is both professionals are trained to treat musculoskeletal injuries or disorders. There’s only a difference between the two when it comes to who’s getting treated – a lay person or an athlete.
Both physiotherapists are highly educated in performing musculoskeletal physiotherapy and sports physiotherapy. They can easily assess and diagnose injuries, implement and plan rehabilitation programmes, design rehabilitation plans which help patients recover and be physically independent; teach patients to reduce injuries and chronic pain and educate the patients on the importance of staying fit and reducing injury in the future.
Some of the treatment methods they would implement are electrotherapy, massages, manual therapy for joint mobility, stretching, taping, acupuncture, and biomechanical analysis and prescribed exercises to be done at home.
Sports physiotherapists as the name suggests mostly treat sports related injuries. They are experts in identifying musculoskeletal injuries or strains. Issues get treated using hands-on treatments and rehabilitation. Sports therapists undergo a three-year degree course which focuses mainly on the musculoskeletal system and on restoring mobility so that it can provide pain relief and increase the quality of life.
Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession and the role of a physiotherapist is to help people affected by injury, disability and illness through exercise, manual therapy, advice and education. A physiotherapist can help people in maintaining their health despite their age which would further help in preventing disease and pain management.
This specialised area of physiotherapy treats conditions and injuries that affect the soft tissues, muscles and joints. During the training process, physiotherapists gain knowledge and skills based on conditions such as neuromusculoskeletal issues, neurological conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular issues such as heart attack, chronic heart disease and even respiratory issues such as asthma, cystic fibrosis etc. Once physiotherapists graduate, they continue to work in the healthcare industry and specialise in healthcare.
Both the professions share a lot of similarities and there’s an overlap in the range of treatment methods. This is what creates confusion amongst patients when they need to decide on which practitioner to consult.
Musculoskeletal physiotherapy have broad knowledge on illnesses and diseases as they work in a hospital environment. They have expertise in helping patients recover by helping them get back to their previous state of being able to safely go about their daily activities.
Sports physiotherapy spend a lot of time learning about sports and exercise and how it affects a person’s life. Instead of helping a patient get back to their normal life, they help the patients get back to their pre-injury phase to be able do all the physical activities they previously did.
Musculoskeletal physiotherapists can have a private practice as well as practice in hospitals so that the doctors can directly refer patients who need to recover from illnesses, mobility issues or for if post-surgery care is required.
Sports therapists usually have their own private centres and can be accessed much quicker. However, the cost of treatment might be more expensive when compared to the musculoskeletal physiotherapists.