Different Types of Physiotherapy [A Quick Guide]

Different Types of Physiotherapy


You probably know that physiotherapy is the practice of helping people with physical injuries and limitations. But what you may not know is that there are different kinds of physiotherapy, each of which focuses on a different types of patients need and a different aspect of their care.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the five main types of physiotherapy and give you an idea about how each one applies unique techniques to treat the specific needs of patients.


What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a medical discipline concerned with the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of people who have problems with movement or who have been diagnosed with a health condition that impacts their physical ability. As such, physiotherapists are healthcare professionals who help people manage pain, improve their strength and flexibility, recover from injury, avoid surgery, and return to their daily activities and work.

Physiotherapists use a wide variety of manual techniques and specialized equipment that’s designed to help patients make progress towards their goals as quickly as possible. And depending on their specific needs, a physiotherapist may also put patients on a special exercise program to help them maintain their progress long-term.


Cardiovascular Physiotherapy

Cardiovascular physiotherapy is a sub-field of physiotherapy that focuses on treating patients who are suffering from cardiac issues, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and poor blood flow. Cardiovascular physiotherapists usually have a background in physiotherapy and then go on to specialize in dealing with heart conditions. This sub-field of physiotherapy is highly specialized and requires its practitioners to be very familiar with the workings of the heart.

Cardiovascular physiotherapists work with patients who have a wide variety of heart conditions. They may help patients who have coronary heart disease (CHD), heart attacks, heart failure, arrhythmias, high blood pressure, abnormal blood fats, or who are going through a medical procedure involving the heart. Cardiovascular physiotherapists are often called upon to perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, as well as provide education, counseling, and patient and family support.


Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy

Musculoskeletal physiotherapy is another sub-field of physiotherapy; one that focuses on the treatment of patients who have injuries, diseases, or disorders that affect the musculoskeletal system. This system is what makes up the skeleton and the muscles and joints that surround these structures. These are the parts of the body that are most likely to be injured because they are used in daily activity and sports.

Musculoskeletal physiotherapists provide treatment for all types of musculoskeletal issues, including sprains, strains, fractures, degenerative joint disease, arthritis, and many other conditions. They also work with patients who are recovering from surgery or who have been diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease such as muscular dystrophy.

Some patients may come to a musculoskeletal physiotherapist for preventative reasons, such as having an athletic or exercise program prescribed to help them avoid injury. Others may be recovering from an injury and in need of physical therapy to regain mobility and reduce pain.

Musculoskeletal physiotherapists work with a wide variety of patients and in a number of different settings. They may work with athletes and other physically active individuals to help them avoid injury and recover quickly when they have been hurt. They may also work with older adults who are at risk of developing conditions such as osteoarthritis, which is the most common joint disorder among seniors.


Sports Physiotherapy

Sports physiotherapy is a sub-field of physiotherapy that focuses on the prevention and rehabilitation of athletes who have been injured while participating in sports. It’s also focused on the treatment of athletes who have been diagnosed with an injury or other condition which may impact their ability to participate in sports. Sports physiotherapy also includes athletes who are preparing for competition and need help staying injury-free during their training period.

Sports physiotherapists work with a wide variety of individuals, including children, teenagers, adults, and seniors. They work with elite athletes at the top of their sport, as well as individuals who are participating in recreational activities. Depending on the sport and the injuries involved, sports physiotherapists often work with other health care professionals, such as doctors, sports therapists, massage therapists, and athletic trainers.


Rehabilitation Physiotherapy

Rehabilitation physiotherapy is the sub-field of physiotherapy that focuses on the treatment of a wide variety of patients who have disabilities, have had an injury, or have an illness that has left them with a lasting physical impairment. These may include people with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, amputations, joint replacements, neurological disorders, strokes, or other conditions.

Rehabilitation physiotherapy is not a specialty that focuses on a certain condition. Instead, it is the general practice of helping patients who have a wide variety of health conditions that have left them with lasting physical impairments. The goal of rehabilitation physiotherapy is to help patients achieve their highest level of function, often by using assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and other mobility aids. It is also to help patients adapt to their new situation and find ways to live their life as fully as possible.


Pelvic Physiotherapy

Pelvic Physiotherapy, also known as pelvic floor therapy, is a specialized practice focused on the prevention and treatment of disorders of the bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that stretch from the tailbone to just above the front of the vagina. In women, these muscles also play an important role in sexual response and function. 

Pelvic floor physical therapy is used most commonly to treat incontinence caused by childbirth or other issues such as weakness caused by another medical condition (such as Parkinson’s Disease). Other common indications include difficulty with urination or bowel movements (fecal urgency), pain during intercourse, feeling like you cannot completely empty your bladder after urinating, or feeling like you cannot fully relax your pelvic muscles when trying to urinate.


Pediatric Physiotherapy

Pediatric physiotherapy is a sub-field of physiotherapy that focuses on the treatment of children who have a health condition that impacts their ability to move and play. These conditions may include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, hip dysplasia, joint disorders, muscle disorders, neurological disorders, or other conditions.

Pediatric physiotherapy is often done together with other health care providers who work with children, such as doctors, occupational therapists, and nurses. Pediatric physiotherapists work with a wide variety of children, from newborns to teenagers. Depending on the child’s needs, a pediatric physiotherapist may provide medical care in a hospital setting, in the child’s home, or in another environment.


Wrap Up

Physiotherapy is a discipline that provides pain relief and improved life mobility for millions of people worldwide. In most cases, the work is hands-on and collaborative, meaning that your physiotherapist will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs and help you set goals for your recovery in the future.

If you’re experiencing recurrent pain in your back or neck, or joint pain anywhere in your body, physiotherapy can help you live a more fulfilling, pain-free life.  It can also help restore and extend your range of motion and help prevent injuries in the future. Call Niagara Health & Rehab Centre to find out exactly how our caring physiotherapists can help you today.


Insurance Covered physiotherapy, chiropractor, massage therapy. Extended Health Coverage Direct Billing Available.

Clinic Hours:

Monday 8a.m.–7p.m.
Tuesday 8a.m.–7p.m.
Wednesday 8a.m.–7p.m.
Thursday 8a.m.–7p.m.
Friday 8a.m.–6:30p.m.
Saturday 8a.m.–2p.m.
Sunday Closed