Physiotherapy vs Athletic Therapy

There are several specialties and expertise in the healthcare profession. Physiotherapists and athletic therapists are considered to be of the most highly skilled health providers in the field of musculoskeletal health and rehabilitation. The following is a comparison of physiotherapy and athletic therapy.


A physiotherapist, also called a physical therapist, physio, or P.T. in short, is a health care professional who works in partnership with his/her clients and other health care providers, to achieve and maintain optimal health. A physiotherapist focuses on improving physical performance, functional independence, managing impairments such as balance or dizziness, and preventing injuries while promoting physical fitness and health.

Physiotherapists are trained educators, and take the time necessary to understand you. Physiotherapists are proficient at assessing muscle/joint pain and much more including: stress management, dizziness, balance, lifestyle, etc.

While applying a reasoned and collaborative approach to assessment and treatment, physiotherapists are accountable for professional judgments. Recent legislative in the area of medicine and medical care has allowed the recognition of physical therapists as ‘direct access providers.’ This allows you to directly approach physiotherapy treatments without the need of a referral from a physician.

Athletic Therapy

Meanwhile, athletic therapy specializes in the prevention and care of musculoskeletal disorders, primarily bones, muscles, and joints; especially as they are directly related to athletics, posture, and physical activity.

Prevention of injuries usually includes postural and musculoskeletal analysis, physical conditioning, functional movement programs, supportive or prophylactic taping, equipment selection, and sport specific training.

Athletic therapists work in the clinic setting providing assessment and treatment for injuries. Additionally, athletic therapist work at athletic/sporting events, providing immediate care. The immediate care provided by an athletic therapist includes basic emergency life support, injury assessment, diagnosis and management of acute traumatic injury, and utilization of techniques that facilitate a safe return such as administering concussion protocol.


Both physiotherapists and athletic therapists use therapeutic modalities, modern rehabilitative techniques, physical reconditioning, and supportive processes, to create an environment that promotes healing. Physician referrals are not required to receive assessment by a physiotherapy or athletic therapist. However, review your own insurance coverage, as some insurance plans require physician referral prior to coverage.

The major differentiating factor between athletic therapy and physiotherapy, is the focus of studies. Physiotherapy, focuses on the study of neurology, cardiology/cardiopulmonary and orthopaedics. Physiotherapists have the ability to further focus on manual therapy, vestibular, pelvic floor and many other skills. Whereas athletic therapists focus mainly on sports medicine, immediate care and exercise.

Physiotherapists and athletic therapists often work together, along with other healthcare professionals, to achieve a mutual goal: making you feel better.

Speak to a health care professional today, to assist you with your needs.

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