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

Dec 17, 2019

Those wondering 'what is kinesiotherapy?' and 'what does a kinesiotherapist do?' can learn about this exercise field and compare it to the field of physical therapy.

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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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Kinesiology vs. Physical Therapy

Kinesiology is the science of physical activity. Kinesiotherapy uses kinesiology principles to help patients meet exercise goals or recover from injury. Students wondering 'what is kinesiotherapy?' and 'how is it different than physical therapy?' should know that although both kinesiotherapy and physical therapy aim to help people improve their overall well-being, the techniques used are often different. Kinesiotherapy applies exercise principles to help patients improve their mobility, strength, and endurance, while physical therapy involves exercises and other techniques, such as using ultrasounds, medical tools, and massages.

Kinesiotherapist vs. Physical Therapist

A kinesiotherapist is a healthcare professional who uses exercises and movement education to help patients, while a physical therapist is a healthcare professional who uses hands-on therapy, exercises, stretches, and more to help patients. Both professionals may work with patients who have lost mobility and/or strength in their body due to injuries or illnesses. However, one of the biggest differences between the two careers is the education requirements.

Kinesiotherapists, or exercise physiologists, must have at least a bachelor's degree in kinesiology, exercise science, or another related field. Bachelor of Science (BS) in Kinesiotherapy programs or a concentration in the field are also available and usually require around 1,000 clinical hours of hands-on experience. Graduates may then pursue the American Kinesiotherapy Association's Registered Kinesiotherapist (RKT) credential, or graduates of these bachelor's degree programs may pursue other optional certifications to demonstrate proficiency in the field, such as the Exercise Physiologist Certified (EPC) certification, the Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP-C), or the Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CEP).

Physical therapists, on the other hand, must have a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Physical therapy schools are available across the country, including physical therapy schools in New Jersey and physical therapy schools in Texas. These programs require 1-year residencies after completing coursework and help prepare students to take the National Physical Therapy Examination. Graduates may also pursue physical therapy certification programs in different areas of specialization.

What Does a Kinesiotherapist Do?

Other differences between a kinesiotherapist and a physical therapist are evident in their job duties. While some of these duties may be similar, kinesiotherapists usually perform more basic rehabilitation techniques than a physical therapist. Some specific job duties for kinesiotherapists may include:

  • Planning fitness and exercise programs
  • Analyzing patients' medical histories
  • Evaluating patients' fitness level
  • Taking patients' heart rate, blood pressure, etc.
  • Creating individualized exercise plans for each patient

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Physical therapists tend to perform more advanced rehabilitation and treatment plans for their patients. They may incorporate the use of medical equipment, such as canes, wheelchairs, and walkers, and some physical therapists may specialize in a particular type of care, like geriatrics or orthopedics. Other specific job duties may include:

  • Diagnosing patients' movements through observation and medical histories
  • Educating patients about the recovery process
  • Creating an individualized treatment plan for each patient
  • Increasing mobility and/or preventing injury through exercise, equipment use, hands-on therapy, etc.
  • Monitoring patients' progress and adjusting treatment as needed

Kinesiotherapist Salary vs. Physical Therapist Salary

In September of 2019, PayScale.com reported that the average annual salary for a registered kinesiotherapist (RKT) was $67,000. The website also reported that the average annual salary for a physical therapist was $70,699, as of November 2019.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also reported the average salaries for these professions in 2018. The BLS stated that exercise physiologists made an average annual salary of $54,760, while physical therapists made an average annual salary of $88,880.

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