A question I get asked very often… The difference is how we approach the injury and what type of therapy and rehabilitation is done, this is our scope of practice.
Physiotherapy deals with first phase rehab – the recovery needed just after an injury or surgery – with the physio working to decrease pain, improve range of motion and getting basic muscle function back.
The biokineticist then takes over into final phase rehab which builds on what was done at physio and takes the injured part into full movement and full functional strength (or in the case of athletes) a return to sport. There is an area of overlap between the two disciplines so it is therefore ideal to work with a team who are constantly referring back and forth between each other to ensure the patient gets the best treatment possible.
An example of the two disciplines working together would be treating a teenage rugby player who tore a knee ligament during a match: once the initial rest period is over (prescribed by the doctor) the physio would use massage or ultrasound to manage pain, swelling and stimulate healing in the knee. Over several weeks specific movement and manipulation of the joint retrains the muscles of the thigh to work correctly, improves the joint range of motion, ensures there is no pain and the athlete can fully weight bear on that leg before being referred to the bio. The bio then works with the athlete to regain full use of the knee through specific exercises that target the thighs, pelvis and lower leg muscles which eventually become even more specific to rugby which ensures the athlete is fit when returning to play and does not re-injure the joint (ideally).
So, both the bio and physio play an important role in fully rehabilitating injuries and should not be overlooked or skipped as movement and exercise can truly be the best medicine.