Kinesiotherapy Vs. Physical Therapy: What's the Difference?

Kinesiotherapy and physical therapy are similar fields; both deal with the treatment of patients who have suffered from physical injury or illness. Learn about degree program levels and availability, as well as registration and licensure requirements. View article »

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  • 0:03 Kinesiotherapy vs.…
  • 1:17 Education for Kinesiotherapy
  • 2:12 Education for Physical Therapy
  • 2:40 Licensure for Physical Therapy

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Video Transcript

Kinesiotherapy vs. Physical Therapy

Learn the difference between kinesiotherapy and physical therapy, as well as the education and registration and licensure requirements for each.

Kinesiotherapy is used to improve a person's endurance, mobility and strength, while physical therapy is the practice of treating physical ailments in a way that emphasizes preventative care. The rehabilitation techniques used by kinesiotherapists are often prescribed to help individuals enhance their overall physical conditioning. A patient may see a kinesiotherapist after receiving a prescription from a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner. Kinesiotherapists primarily work in public and private hospitals, sports medicine facilities, rehabilitation centers, and academic institutions, as well as in private practice and as consultants.

Physical therapists work directly with other medical professionals, such as occupational therapists, medical doctors, audiologists, and nurses, to treat patients who have difficulty performing day-to-day physical tasks. These professionals may work in hospitals, public health facilities, or other healthcare environments to provide mobility improvement services and develop treatment plans for individuals.

Education for Kinesiotherapy

Prospective kinesiotherapists may enter a bachelor's degree program that covers both didactic and clinical learning. According to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), kinesiotherapy programs generally take 4-5 years to complete and require a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Students will cover areas like patient assessment, physiology, physical development, first aid, and therapeutic exercise.

As recently as 2017, there were only three programs in the country accredited by the CAAHEP, all of which were available at the undergraduate level. Individuals who graduate from one of these programs are eligible to apply for professional registration through the American Kinesiotherapy Association. Additional registration requirements include completion of at least 1,000 hours of clinical experience and an exam.

Education for Physical Therapy

Prospective physical therapists will need to earn a master's or doctoral degree from a program that's accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). It takes approximately two years to complete a master's degree program, while a doctoral degree takes three years to earn.

Master's and doctoral programs in physical therapy include coursework in:

  • Motor control
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Biomechanics
  • Musculoskeletal disorders

Licensure for Physical Therapy

State licensure is necessary in order to work as a physical therapist. Licensure requirements include completion of a CAPTE-accredited degree program and the passing of the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Some states expect licensure candidates to take additional exams.

Kinesiotherapy works to improve a patient's mobility and strength, while physical therapy treats patients' pain and provides preventative care. Degree programs are available for each area to train students and prepare them for professional registration or licensure.

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