21 types of physiotherapists! That’s a lot of physiotherapists. When I sat down to write this article I wasn’t even sure myself if I could name that many! Of course, once I started researching and brainstorming, this list came together easily.

We often view physiotherapy and physiotherapists as one entity – a group or an individual who can do it all and who know everything about every condition. In fact, there is a high degree of specialization within the industry, and it’s important to find the physiotherapists that have the training and experience to help you with your injury or condition. Imagine taking your car to a boat automotive – they could probably diagnose the problem, but would you feel comfortable with them fixing your car? The same argument applies to physiotherapy – you’re probably not going to go to a Neuro physiotherapist for a pelvic floor issue!

In this post we’ll be covering the 21 different types of physiotherapists. We’ll review the conditions they treat and by the end of this article you should have a really good idea of what physiotherapist you should see and how they can help you.

  1. ORTHOPEDIC PHYSIOTHERAPISTS

By definition, Orthopedic physiotherapy is defined as the medical specialty concerned with correction of deformities or functional impairments of the skeletal system, especially the extremities and the spine, and associated structures, as muscles and ligaments.

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If you have an injury or condition related to the injuries and conditions that involve the skeleton (bones), muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. Orthopedic physiotherapy can be thought of as an umbrella term, under which disciplines like hand physiotherapists and shoulder physiotherapists fall under (more on those later).

2. CARDIO-RESPIRATORY PHYSIOTHERAPIST

You’re probably going to be hearing a lot about cardio-respiratory physiotherapy in the next few months! As people are recovering from COVID-19, cardio-respiratory physiotherapists will be of the utmost importance. This discipline of physiotherapy is one that specialises in the prevention, rehabilitation, and compensation of clients with diseases and injuries in the heart and lungs.

You should also see a cardio-respiratory physiotherapist if you have: acute problems like asthma, acute chest infections and trauma. Also, if you are preparing and recovering from major surgery. They can also treat a wide range of chronic cardiac and respiratory conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis (CF) and post-myocardial infarction (MI).

3. PEDIATRIC PHYSIOTHERAPIST / KIDS PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Pediatric physiotherapy is simply the delivery of physiotherapy services to children and youth, from birth to about 25 years of age.

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Typically, people visit a pediatric physiotherapist to have their child’s condition/injury assessed. This can include: gross motor function and posture, including strength, gait, flexibility, balance, and coordination and sensory processing. Pediatric physiotherapists usually treat children using manual therapy, hands-on facilitation, education, referrals to other specialists, and/or prescription of a home exercise program.

4. SPORT PHYSIOTHERAPIST / SPORTS INJURY PHYSIOTHERAPIST

This is a specialization of physiotherapy that primarily deals with preventing injury and rehabilitating patients and athletes who participate in sports activities.

Sport physiotherapists can help athletes in many ways! From increasing physical strength, helping your body relax, improving joint and muscle flexibility, preventing injuries and treating injuries, they’re you’re go-to for anything sport related!

5. WOMEN’S HEALTH PHYSIOTHERAPIST

These physiotherapists utilize therapeutic treatment to help all disorders affecting the pelvis, pelvic floor, and after-birth care. From incontinence to prolapse, pelvic pain or constipation!

There is growing evidence that physiotherapy can alleviate, and in many cases cure these symptoms. Most women don’t even know these services exist, so if you suffer from any of the above – a women’s health physiotherapist is who you need!

6. PELVIC FLOOR PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Under the umbrella of Women’s Health, there are physiotherapists who primarily focus on the pelvic floor. These physiotherapists help women rehabilitate their pelvic floor muscles. These muscles can be weakened by childbirth, surgery, heavy lifting, being overweight, constipation or menopause.

The pelvic floor muscles support the womb (uterus), bladder and bowel (colon), forming a ‘sling’ from the pubic bone at the front to the tailbone at the back. If the muscles are weak, this can affect bladder and bowel control, resulting in incontinence (leakage) or prolapse. Visit a pelvic floor physiotherapist to get help with these symptoms!

7. NEURO PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Neuro physiotherapy is a type of therapeutic intervention that aims at treating patients who suffer from disorders that are neurological in nature. Neuro physiotherapy is not just one technique but rather a multitude of intervention techniques aimed at rehabilitating patients with very specific disorders and traumas.

Neuro Physiotherapists can treat:

  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s
  • Brain Injuries
  • Concussions
  • MS
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Our Neuro Physiotherapist – Julie Adair, certified in the Neuro-Developmental Theory (NDTA) and the LSVT BIG Program for Parkinson’s disease.

8. VESTIBULAR PHYSIOTHERAPIST / VERTIGO PHYSIOTHERAPIST

There are three things that keep you stable in this world – your visual system, your proprioceptive system, and your vestibular system. Think of these three things like legs on a stool – if one leg is missing or wobbly, your entire balance is thrown off.

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Vestibular (or vertigo) physiotherapists help retrain this system so that you can regain your balance and get rid of dizziness. They use a multitude of different equipment and exercise to recalibrate your system. This therapy is great if you’re experiencing dizziness, unsteadiness, or vertigo after a head injury or illness.  

9. CONCUSSION/TBI PHYSIOTHERAPIST

There are many ways that a physiotherapist can help you after a concussion. It is such a common injury these days that there are now physiotherapists that specialize in treating them!

Concussion treatment can involve manual therapy, coordination exercises, exercises to strengthen neck muscles, and myofascial release.

10. HAND PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Hand therapy treatment may include splinting, wound care, management of swelling and scars, exercises, normalization of sensation, and education to facilitate a safe and timely return to work and daily activities.

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A hand physiotherapist usually has special training (Certified Hand Therapist), and extensive knowledge and experience when it comes to rehabilitation of the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder.

11. FOOT PAIN PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Are you a runner? Do you wear orthotics? Have you had surgery on your feet? If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, then you should definitely seek out a physiotherapist who has training and experience with feet and foot pain.

If you’ve ever had foot pain, you know that it is almost impossible to ignore! Your activities of daily living are always impacted, and it’s a real downer. Here are some ways that physiotherapy can help with foot pain:

  • Perform a detailed gait analysis
  • Musculoskeletal assessment
  • Strengthening of the ankle, calf and upper muscle of the leg
  • Foot mobilisation (if needed)

12. SHOULDER PAIN PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Just like foot pain, shoulder pain can really impact your everyday activities! Shoulder pain physiotherapists will focus on the upper extremities and your mobility, range of motion, and any muscle imbalances. They have a detailed knowledge of the upper body, and really understand how all muscles cooperate together.

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If you’re experience shoulder pain from an injury (or sometimes just sleeping wrong!), then it will be worth visiting a physiotherapist that can put together a comprehensive rotator cuff and shoulder conditioning program.

13. ICU PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Physiotherapists are found in abundance in hospitals – but many people don’t know that they are especially needed in the ICU (intensive care unit). For patients who are unable to move, or who have been in serious accidents, physiotherapists can help reposition patients and help gain their mobility back!

14. ONLINE PHYSIOTHERAPIST / VIRTUAL PHYSIOTHERAPIST

With the global pandemic of COVID-19, virtual physiotherapists or online physiotherapists have seen exponential growth! Virtual physiotherapy was certainly an option before the pandemic, but it has really made clinics shift to offering this option to clients. Typically these physiotherapists are extremely good at verbal communication and have a high level of knowledge that allows them to fully explain your condition (instead of using manual therapy).

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Regardless of the pandemic, virtual physiotherapy is an excellent option if you are unable to leave your home to go to a clinic, or if you live in a remote part of the world where physiotherapy is hard to access. Luckily, most clinics now have an online physiotherapist on staff so they should be easy to find if you should need one!

15. MOBILE PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Not to be biased or anything, but these are our favourite physiotherapists! Being a mobile clinic ourselves, we are definitely aware of the advantages of our service. All of our physiotherapists have different specialities, so we can cover a lot of different injuries and conditions!

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A mobile physiotherapist typically sees clients in their home, in a hospital, at their work or somewhere like a community center or pool. Mobile physiotherapists are able to see the day-to-day obstacles that clients are dealing with and make it really easy for client to get treatment if they’re immobile – and there is no traffic, parking, or busy clinic to deal with!

16. BACK PAIN PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Did you know that back pain is one of the most common conditions that we see clients for?! At some point in your life, you will experience back pain – either from an injury, your posture, or a spine condition. You’ll want to see a back pain physiotherapist at this point! They can use manual therapy, stretching, modalities such as ice/heat, shockwave treatment, TENs machines, ultrasound treatment, and strengthening to get you back to feeling your best.

Back pain physiotherapists are also quite knowledgeable in your neck and shoulder positioning, as well as posture assessments and sleeping assessments. They recognize that all of these things can play a huge role in your back health!

17. KNEE PAIN PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Just like back pain, knee pain is one of the main issues we see clients for. In fact, 10% of men and 13% of women will experience knee osteoarthritis. This is the most common condition, but we often see clients who have had total knee replacements, or have experienced a significant accident/injury to their knees.

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Knee pain Physiotherapists can help in a similar way that back pain physiotherapists can – using different modalities with a combination of manual therapy, myofascial release and strengthening exercises.

18. GERIATRIC PHYSIOTHERAPIST

As we age, there are many common physical problems ranging from sore joints and reduced mobility to back pain and even more serious diseases like Osteoporosis, MS, and Parkinson’s. Many seniors begrudgingly accept these aches and pains as an inevitable part of aging and learn to live with it, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

That’s where geriatric physiotherapy comes in! Regular appointments with a physiotherapist can help seniors regain their independence and have them feeling years younger. 

19. MUSCULOSKELETAL PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy involves the treatment of disorders that affect how you move – how your muscles and joints work together. Whether it’s your feet, ankles and legs, your hands, arms and shoulders, or your backs and necks – an injury that makes it painful or difficult to move can have a big impact on your life.

This is big umbrella term – as many of the physiotherapists we spoke of in this article technically fall under this definition.

20. REHAB CONSULTANT

A rehabilitation consultant generally provides vocational rehabilitation consultations and case management services. Typically, these consultants work for private companies that are contracted by the province (ie. ICBC) to provide efficient services that meet legal requirements. Their responsibilities are to manage a client caseload, make assessments of the vocational ability of each client, address any special accommodation they need at their job, and assist them with returning to work.

Rehab consultants can be physiotherapists or occupational therapists and they can help you utilize further resources to help you remain at your job if you are injured or diagnosed with a condition that prevents you from working.

21. BEST PHYSIOTHERAPIST

Whew! That wraps up 20 types of physiotherapists! Just leaving Number 21. This one is easy – the best physiotherapist is the one that is knowledgeable about your condition, communicates effectively, and who you feel you can trust. Simply put, don’t be afraid to try several physiotherapists – not all will be the right fit for you!

Book your Appointment Today!

We pride ourselves on being a diverse, multi-disciplinary team at Chipperfield Mobile Physiotherapy! Our Physiotherapists have experience with orthopedic injuries, pediatrics, musculoskeletal injuries, neurological conditions, geriatrics, foot pain, back pain & pain management (just to name a few!).

We’d love to offer you a FREE phone call with one of our practitioners to discuss your injury/condition! Just click the link below to book:

Book Physiotherapy appointment

FAQ

  1. What are the benefits of sports physiotherapy?
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21 Types of Physiotherapists
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