7 Types of Physiotherapists

7 Types of Physiotherapists

If you were to take a poll of the average Canadian, many would think that physiotherapists only work with athletes. While there are physiotherapists who specialize in sports medicine, in reality there are many more who specialize in a wide variety of conditions. 

In this post we’ll be covering the 7 most common types of physiotherapists and which conditions they treat successfully so you know which type of therapist can help you.

1. Pediatric Physiotherapist/Kids Physiotherapist

Pediatric physiotherapists help children and youth, from birth to early adulthood to achieve optimal physical development. They specialize in children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down syndrome and with those who have developmental delays in their physical function.

Their treatment is aimed at:

  • Improving gross motor function and posture
  • Optimizing strength, gait, flexibility and balance so that children are able to move through their environment easily and effectively.
  • Helping children meet normal development milestones.
  • Creating a fitness plan for injury prevention

Pediatric physiotherapists treat children using many different techniques like manual therapy, hands-on facilitation, education, referrals to other specialists, and/or home exercise programs.

2. Sport Physiotherapist / Sports Injury Physiotherapist

A Sports Physiotherapist is dedicated to helping athletes perform at their best. They also help athletes speed up in their recovery from an injury.

A sports physiotherapist assesses the strength, flexibility, mobility and movement patterns of their athletes. They may also assess the performance of an athlete’s entire kinetic chain when completing their rehabilitation. A Kinetic chain is a group of muscles and joints that work together to perform a particular movement. For example, the entire lower kinetic chain including the hip, knee, ankle and foot is involved when you kick a soccer ball. If you are experiencing pain with this movement, they will assess the function of all of the parts of the kinetic chain to determine an effective strategy to reduce your pain.

Sports physiotherapists can help athletes in many ways, including:

  • Increasing your physical strength and muscle
  • Improve joint mobility and muscle flexibility
  • Improving performance
  • Helping your body relax
  • Speeding up recovery after a sports event, injury, or workout
  • Reducing your likelihood for injury recurrence

They’re your go-to for anything sport related!

Sports Physiotherapy tips courtesy of Craven Sports Clinic

3. Concussion/TBI Physiotherapist

Most don’t think of a Physiotherapist when it comes to concussions. Physiotherapists play a major role in the rehab of concussion injuries. They can contribute to concussion rehab in the following ways:

  • Reduce headache and neck pain
  • Improve balance and stop dizziness
  • Provide exercises to improve cognitive function
  • Guide the return to work, activity or sport

Concussion treatment can involve:

  • Manual therapy to reduce pain and improve neck function
  • Neck exercises to improve strength and mobility
  • Coordination exercises
  • Balance training
  • Vestibular exercises

4. Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists are trained to assess and treat pelvic floor problems in women, men, and children. 

Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that help control your bowel and bladder function. With events such as pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles can become weak, tight or painful. When this happens it can cause sexual pain, inability to completely empty your bladder or bowels, incontinence, bedwetting, and organ prolapse, among other symptoms. 

If you experience any of the above symptoms, pelvic floor physios can help:

  • Strengthen and relax the pelvic floor muscles
  • Reduce Bladder and bowel issues.
  • Improve sexual function
  • Prepare women for childbirth and help with post-partum recovery.
Additionally, research shows us that pelvic floor dysfunction can be associated with back pain. So if you are experiencing low back back pain along with changes in your bowel, bladder and/or sexual function, completing an appointment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist can help improve your back injury.

Check out this slide post to learn the top myths about pelvic physiotherapy:

5. Neurological Rehabilitation Physiotherapists 

Neuro Physiotherapy is a specialized field of Physiotherapy that helps patients suffering from neurological conditions.

Some common conditions treated are:

  • Traumatic brain Injury/head injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Bell’s palsy

A physiotherapist helps with these conditions using a phenomenon called neuroplasticity. After sustaining a neurological injury your nerve function becomes diminished. With diminished nerve function, your body is unable to complete particular movements and activities. Neuroplasticity occurs when the brain rewires itself to learn and relearn tasks and abilities.  

A Physio will recommend certain exercises that cause the brain to form new neural connections that are required to perform these movements and activities.

6. Orthopedic Physiotherapists

Orthopedic Physiotherapists focus on injuries to tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles.

They can successfully treat:

  • Frozen shoulder
  • Bursitis
  • Joint pain in hips, knees, elbows, ankles.
  • Lower back pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Arthritis
  • Spinal stenosis

Orthopedic physiotherapists use a variety of methods to treat patients including:

  • Exercise
  • Education on your condition and how to manage it
  • Activity modification to help you return to activity
  • Joint mobilization
  • Massage
  • Heat or ice modalities
  • Muscle stimulation
  • Acupuncture

7. Back Pain Physiotherapists

These physiotherapists specialize in injuries and conditions of the back.

They focus on improving the movement and function of your joints and muscles to reduce back pain.

Conditions they can successfully treat:

  • Lower back pain
  • Thoracic spine pain
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Herniated discs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylosis
  • Pulled muscles
  • Back spasms

There you have it the most common types of physiotherapists and what they do best.  If you’re looking for a Physiotherapist near you. Just click here to view the best physiotherapist near you. Many also do online physiotherapy that you can do from your computer or phone in the comfort of your own home.

Also you might be interested in our new guide called “Ultimate Guide to Sex With Back Pain” by Physio Darryl Yardley, PT.  In this guide you’ll learn how to have great sex without pain. To get it just scroll below.

Check out this slide post to learn tips for managing lower back pain:


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

They are the same! In America they are called physical therapists, and in the rest of the world they are called physiotherapists.

No, they are not doctors. Physiotherapists are separate health care practitioners who specialize in the physical rehabilitation of their patients.

A Physiotherapist is able to communicate a diagnosis based on an assessment of your movements and pain profile.

About Taylor Sipos

Taylor is a physiotherapist at The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic located in Toronto, Ontario. He treats patients with various musculoskeletal conditions using patient education, exercise therapy, manual therapy and acupuncture. His treatment philosophy involves giving his patient’s the means to self-manage their injuries. He does this through reassurance, education and health promotion. Taylor uses the same principles as a patient educator at Pain Hero. He aims to provide you with high-quality, easy to understand information to teach you about your condition and how to improve it.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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