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What is the difference between Physical Therapy and Physiotherapy?

There are several significant differences between the two professions.


Firstly, physiotherapy and physical therapy have been organised within Ireland as discrete professions for over two decades. Physiotherapy is a four-year, Level 8 university degree course designed for school leavers, whereas physical therapy is a three-year Level 7-degree course from a private college, designed for mature students and adult learners. Physiotherapy training focuses primarily on hospital work whereas physical therapy is designed for conditions seen mostly in private practice.

Physical therapy training concentrates on the use of manual (or hands-on) techniques exclusively, whereas physiotherapy incorporates electrical modalities where available, such as interferential, ultrasound, tens, laser, and other non-manual treatments. Physical therapists are trained with a view to a longer client consultation, incorporating a more holistic approach and a treatment, which by virtue of its hands-on nature, may be more client centred.

The common goal of physical therapy is the same as physiotherapy. To help our patients feel well again. Our training has specialised us to assess and treat musculoskeletal problems only. We work only in the private sector. We are registered under the same government body (CORU) as physiotherapists and we may use the name physiotherapist if we wish. I like the distinction the name physical therapy affords us.  I am a hands on, patient centred practitioner.

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