Date of the last update: 19.04.2023
Table of contents:
- What is kinesiotherapy
- Kinesiotherapy vs physiotherapy
- Should I see a kinesiotherapist or a physiotherapist?
- How can I become a kinesiotherapist?
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Kinesiotherapy (formerly known as ‘corrective therapy’) was originally designed to treat wounded soldiers during World War II, and was later mainstreamed as a therapeutic treatment for a variety of physical injuries. Today, kinesiotherapists across the world carry out and prescribe movement exercises to enhance the strength, mobility and endurance of functionally limited patients, or people who require long-term rehabilitation.
Kinesiotherapy is divided into either local or general treatment – the former treating a particular part of the body, and the latter, all areas of the body. Patients use kinesiotherapy for a variety of ailments including musculoskeletal dysfunctions, back pain, joint injuries, ligament injuries, muscle pain, as well as to support the recovery from illnesses originating in the nervous, pulmonary and cardiovascular systems, which require the patient to have a sufficiently strong body to recover.
There can be a fine line between kinesiotherapy and physiotherapy, as they share the objective of rehabilitating patients from physical injury, and aim to increase the patients’ physical strength, elasticity and endurance. However, there are a few key differences. On the one hand, physiotherapists diagnose musculoskeletal issues and apply passive treatments during treatment sessions including massage, manipulation, ultrasound therapy, or other approaches to reduce pain and inflammation, and then prescribe strengthening and elasticity exercises for patients to carry out in between treatment sessions. On the other hand, kinesiotherapy focuses on movement as the source of healing, using active exercises to increase patients’ strength during the treatment sessions. Kinesiologists do not diagnose physical ailments, and diagnosis is left to doctors or physiotherapists.
Another difference between these two specialities is that physiotherapists often diagnose and help patients overcome short-term injuries such as sprains and muscle pains, ending treatment following the patient’s recovery. On the other hand, kinesiologists generally carry out long-term treatment processes to help patients recover from injuries, reduce chronic pain and optimize their body’s performance through exercise and functional movement.
Following an injury or accident, the best option is to go to a physiotherapist or doctor for a diagnosis and treatment of the immediate damage such as inflammation, dislocation, or other injury incurred. Once your issue is stable and initial damage is lessened, you can consider transitioning to kinesiotherapy for longer-term treatment. Speak to your physiotherapist about the options, as they may already refer you to a kinesiotherapist themselves.
The process of training to become a kinesiotherapist varies largely from country to country, so it is worth consulting local rehabilitation centres for country-specific advice, and searching for kinesiology courses. In some countries – including the USA – there are bachelor’s degrees dedicated to kinesiotherapy, but this is not the case across the world. In other cases, aspiring kinesiotherapists may study a different but related degree, and take a master’s degree or further graduate programme to become an accredited kinesiotherapist.
Check out also: How to become a naturopath?
The training to become a kinesiotherapist covers a variety of subjects, including foundational sciences such as anatomical kinesiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, motor behaviour, and the social psychology of physical activity. Courses also include extensive clinical practice. Training to become a kinesiotherapist typically takes 4-5 years.
- American Kinesiotherapy Association (n/d). ‘About’. American Kinesiotherapy Association.
- American Kinesiotherapy Association (n/d). ‘Education’. American Kinesiotherapy Association.
- Sportoklinik (n/d). ‘Kinesiotherapy’. Sportoklinik.
- Symmetrix Exercise & Rehab (2022). ‘Kinesiologist vs. Physiotherapist: Top 5 Questions Answered’. Symmetrix Exercise & Rehab.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014). ‘Kinesiotherapist’. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.