Please note: The following article is written by Healthstin.
As Accredited Exercise Physiologists, we are commonly mistaken for Physiotherapists, and frequently asked how we differ. Whilst we all share the common goal when treating you, we go about it in different ways.
Distinguishing between an Exercise Physiologist and a Physiotherapist can be difficult, in saying this we have tried to provide some clarity on this common question.
When it comes to prescribing exercise, Exercise Physiologists are the most qualified allied health professionals in Australia. We specialize in clinical exercise interventions for people with a broad range of health issues. Whether you are at risk of developing or have existing medical conditions, musculoskeletal injuries, a disability or general health. Along with evidence-based exercise and rehabilitation, we include physical activity and health education, and lifestyle and behaviour modification advice, support and monitoring throughout your treatment.
While Physiotherapists are experts in the structure of the human body and its movement. Their work is done during the diagnosis and acute phase of an injury or condition. They are involved in the hands-on evaluation, assessment and treatment of patient care 2. They may include some exercises in your treatment, along with other interventions such as airway clearance techniques and breathing exercise, joint manipulation and mobility massage, and assistance with the use of aids (i.e. splints)3.
You can probably tell why there is confusion between the two, as it is clear the professions are closely linked. Both Accredited Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists:
Undertake a minimum of 4 years of university training
Recognized by Medicare, Private Health Funds, WorkCover and NDIS
Require yearly Professional Development to maintain accreditation
But most importantly, we all will provide high quality treatment to enhance optimal physical functioning.
What does a typical consultation look like?
• Introduction and initial assessment to consider your current health state and exercise history.
• Physical assessment to determine your current functional abilities and capacity – this helps your Accredited Exercise physiologist to tailor a program for you Education of how exercise can help you – for example, how it will treat your condition or improve your quality of life.
• A clear and individually tailored exercise program Give you strategies to achieve your exercise and health goals – behaviour and lifestyle modifications and motivational techniques.
• Ongoing monitoring and support to help you complete your exercise program Written reports about your progress, for your doctor, case manager or other allied health professionals.
• Diagnose your condition.
• Assess and evaluate your needs Work with you to set and attain goals – for example, preparing to return to sport.
• Develop a treatment, rehabilitation or prevention plan that accounts for your overall health and wellbeing Prescribe some exercise, hands-on treatment including soft tissue mobility through massage.
• Prescribe types of physical aides
How we work together?
The synergy between Exercise Physiology and Physiotherapists can be beneficial for optimal results and outcomes. Physiotherapists have that more hands-on treatment so you may see them at the initial stages of treatment. An Exercise Physiologists will then take over and use exercise to get you back to normal activities of daily living and management of your condition long-term.
For example, you recently have been suffering from some knee pain from a recent run you did that had a lot more hills than usual. A Physiotherapist will deliver the injury diagnosis and prognosis on that knee pain, and maybe include some hands-on soft tissue mobility through massage. An Exercise Physiologist will receive this injury diagnosis and deliver the exercise rehabilitation prognosis to help strengthen and support you to get back to running pain-free.
But, keep in mind you don’t need a referral to see an Exercise Physiologist, or have to have seen a Physiotherapist. If you are recovering from an injury, have a chronic or complex health condition, require weight loss or management, have a disability or just want to improve your overall health and wellbeing, an Exercise Physiologist is definitely for you.
We work really well together, and often report back to each other on your progress, or if anything needs to be addressed for you to reach your health and well-being goals.