The difference between an exercise physiologist and physical therapist has more to do with the nature of their work than any sort of special training in exercise. Neither of these professionals have formal training in physical therapy, but most know how to perform basic exercises. The only difference is that they do not work in a clinical setting.
Physiologists and physical therapists are often confused because their jobs are so similar. Both focus on the basic functioning of the human body. Both are very concerned with health of people and physical fitness of individuals. But there are differences in the nature of the patients’ concerns and how the two doctors work with them.
The first major difference between an exercise physiologist and physical therapist concerns the nature of the patient’s needs. Many doctors prefer to treat patients in the hospital setting because this allows them to spend time talking to the patient, helping the patient through their illness and comfort. This is one reason many patients prefer hospitals to regular doctors’ offices.
They feel they can talk more directly to the physician, help the patient learn to manage their illness and try to find ways to improve their general well being. While patients can get emotional support from the doctor in their office, they do not receive as much emotional support in the hospital environment.
Physiologists and physical therapists know that their job does not end with just handling patient care. They also help the doctors understand and support the patient through the entire process of illness, as well as during treatment. They want to be able to build a patient-doctor relationship, and this is what makes the difference between an exercise physiologist and physical therapist.
However, the nature of the patient’s needs does not make a difference between a doctor and a nurse. The doctor and nurse should be working closely together to provide excellent patient care, and this relationship must be built on a foundation of trust. This can be difficult, especially when the doctor has little experience in treating a variety of patients with a wide range of problems.
A physical therapist works in a group setting where everyone helps the patient to learn and adjust to the changes in their body. These can include stretching exercises and modifying the patient’s eating habits and lifestyle.
This type of patient-physician relationship is far easier to establish than that of an exercise physiologist. For the patient, it means that they can learn how to live with the results of their illness, and their doctor does not have to give up on them. The work is collaborative and rather than treating the patient, the patient is treated.
In the beginning, physical therapists who were trained as exercise physiologists had a great deal of power over the individual they were treating. It was their responsibility to learn how to perform every muscle and physical function that the patient used. The group structure of many hospitals made it possible for physiologists to begin treating patients of other doctors.
As time went on, more doctors began to recognize the value of this approach to care, and many began to leave their groups and form groups of their own. While this allowed doctors to learn more about their patients, it was difficult for the physicians to be involved in every aspect of the care given to their patients. In a better way of thinking, it was hard for the patient to gain all the knowledge they needed without a true physician.
Physiologists and physical therapists are still a work in progress. They may someday be separated into their own specialties, but that day will probably be years away. Until then, they should be working together for the mutual benefit of their patients.