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Types of Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy encompasses various specialties, including musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory physiotherapy, each focusing on different aspects of rehabilitation and treatment.

Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession with a wide scope of knowledge and training, causing most Physiotherapists to specialize after their education. As we started brainstorming and researching, we learned there even more types of Physiotherapy than we thought! In this article we will explore all the types of Physiotherapy.

All types of Physiotherapy tend to have a few key features in common. They are all providing patient education, restoring function, relieving pain as needed and are looking for optimal outcomes for their patients.

What are the different types of Physiotherapy?

The different types of Physiotherapy tend to fall in these main categories:

  1. Orthopedic or Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy
  2. Neurological Physiotherapy
  3. Pediatric Physiotherapy
  4. Geriatric Physiotherapy
  5. Cardio-Respiratory Physiotherapy
  6. Women's Health Physiotherapy
  7. Sports Physiotherapy
  8. Vestibular Physiotherapy
  9. Concussion/TBI Physiotherapy
  10. Hand Physiotherapy
  11. ICU Physiotherapy
  12. Community Care Physiotherapy
  13. Rehabilitation Physiotherapy

Orthopedic or Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy

Orthopedic Physiotherapy, sometimes, also spelled orthopaedic Physiotherapy, is the main form of Physiotherapy that we provide at Inertia Physio+. In orthopedic Physiotherapy treatments, we focus on the musculoskeletal system and injuries, diseases or conditions that can affect this system. The musculoskeletal system includes the skeleton of bones, along with the soft tissues that connect it, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments. One of the main focuses is pain management. Range of motion and strengthening exercises are also key components. Orthopedic Physiotherapy treatments in our clinic are focused on manual therapy including joint mobilization, soft tissue mobilization and therapeutic massage to alleviate pain along with strengthening exercises and other therapeutic exercises for stretching and range of motion for home to help restore mobility and function.

Some orthopedic Physiotherapy services will also provide therapeutic modalities to relieve pain such as heat therapy and therapeutic ultrasound.

Some of the orthopedic conditions or injuries that we treat are:

  • acute injuries
  • chronic pain
  • muscle diseases
  • soft tissue damage
  • minor and major surgery rehabilitation
  • athletic injuries and sports injuries
  • muscle imbalances
  • back pain
  • lymphatic swelling

Neurological Physiotherapy

Neurological Physiotherapy focuses on injuries and disorders of the Nervous System, including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves of the body. The nervous system may have damage or dysfunction because of injury or diseases such as Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's Disease or MS. Neurological Physiotherapy can help patients re-learn motor skills or re-gain motor control after injury or work with them through disease in preventing progression and improving function as much as possible.

Some common conditions that Neurological Physiotherapy might treat are:

  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Neurological Conditions
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Pediatric Physiotherapy

Pediatric Physiotherapy is therapy for children and tends to be needed when children have physical limitations. Pediatric Physiotherapists have specialized skills for working with children and may work with developmental delays or early detection of concerns with motor skills or motor control development. Pediatric physical therapy can be found in private clinics or hospital settings.

Geriatric Physical Therapy

Geriatric Physiotherapy is a type of Physiotherapy geared towards older adults. Aging tends to bring about sore joints, arthritis, reduced mobility, back pain, Osteoporosis, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease.

Many seniors just accept their aches and pains, but with the proper Physiotherapy, they don't have to live this way! Physical therapy can help people live a more full and independent life and even feel younger!

Cardio-Respiratory Physiotherapy

This type of therapy focuses on the circulatory and respiratory systems of the body and prevention and rehabilitation of patients with diseases or conditions of the heart and lungs. Various techniques are used to stimulate the passage of fluids around the heart and lungs to achieve optimal outcomes in blood flow and breathing.

Some of the conditions treated by Cardio-Respiratory Physiotherapists include:

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • blood flow or breathing issues
  • following cardiac arrest
  • Cystic Fibrosis (CF)
  • Post-myocardial infarction (MI)
  • Preparation or recovery from surgery
  • Asthma
  • Chest infections
  • Chest trauma
  • Lymphatic Swelling

Women's Health Physiotherapy

Women have a unique set of needs, particularly when it comes to the female reproductive system and bearing and delivering children. This form of therapy provides help for these needs and the types of problems that may result. Physical therapists in this field may help women who have pelvic floor pain or dysfunction, including urinary incontinence or even back pain because of pregnancy. They can help provide patient education on how to do strengthening exercises as well as provide manual treatment to relieve the tension in pelvic muscles.

Sports Physiotherapy

Sports Physio is physical therapy for athletes or those pursuing an active or athletic lifestyle. It is a specialized form of Orthopedic Physiotherapy for sports injuries. They focus on injury prevention and recovery or rehabilitation from sports injury.

Sports Physiotherapists have many ways that they can help sports professionals, athletes, or active people. They can help promote physical fitness through exercise programs and education. They can provide hands on work for soft tissues and affected joints to increase range of motion and joint mobility and at the same time, reduce pain. They can help the body relax, prevent injuries by keeping things loose and moving well. They are the go-to form of Physiotherapy for anything related to sports!

Vestibular Rehabilitation Physiotherapy

Vestibular Rehabilitation Physiotherapy is physical therapy that focuses on the inner ear and imbalances that can happen to the crystals there, causing balance disorders and symptoms such as vertigo.

The vestibular system works with your vision and proprioception, or your ability to know where your body is in space without having to look. These three systems together are like the legs of a stool, where if one is missing or shaky, your balance, stability and steadiness can be compromised.

Vestibular (or vertigo) Physiotherapists work to help you retrain your vestibular system to restore balance. You will need this form of Physiotherapy if you are experiencing vertigo, dizziness, or unsteadiness. Sometimes these symptoms come on with no cause and other times they are caused by specific conditions or head injuries.  

Concussion/TBI Physiotherapy

This form of Physiotherapy is physical Therapy for patients following concussions or traumatic brain injuries.

Specialized treatment is needed for head injuries and may sometimes involve cranio-sacral therapy, upper neck treatment or retraining of visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems through exercises.

Hand Physiotherapy

Just as in surgery, those specialized in hands tend to provide the surgery or therapy for hand or finger injuries. Hands and fingers can sometimes require specialized attention to address the unique needs for one of the most important functional areas of our bodies.

Hand Physiotherapy may include management of swelling and scars, splinting or bracing supports, exercises, and education to allow a safe return to function in the hand. They may deal with helping you regain movement or sensation in your hand or fingers or helping your recovery from a hand surgery.

ICU Physiotherapy

ICU Physiotherapists are found in hospitals in the intensive care unit. They can help patients who are unable to move because of a serious condition or accident. Physiotherapists can help reposition patients and help them return to normal mobility and function!

Community Care Physiotherapy

Community Care Physiotherapists tend to go into the community, into people’s homes, hospitals, or community centres to reach the population of people that they work with. These Physiotherapists can help with day-to-day mobility or function restrictions and help make your activities of daily living a little bit easier.

Rehabilitation Physiotherapy

Rehabilitation Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy tend to fill this role. They generally provide vocational rehabilitation consultations and case management services. They can then address any accommodations their clients might need at their job and help them with return to work.

Which Physiotherapy is best?

The best Physiotherapy option for you is the one that meets your needs!

Pain Management

All types of Physiotherapy tend to focus on pain management. Each type of Physiotherapist will work with a different population of people with different reasons for pain, but if pain is present, each type of Physiotherapist will have treatment methods that they use to relieve pain.

Restoring Function through Physical Therapy

All Physiotherapists are all also experts in helping you maintain or restore function. Again, they work with different populations and different physical limitations or reasons for reduced function, but they all have their own treatment methods to help people regain movement mechanics for their goals.


Your specific needs will dictate which type of Physiotherapy you choose.

If you require Physiotherapy for any musculoskeletal, joint or muscle concern, including Sports Physiotherapy, Concussion Physiotherapy or Vestibular Therapy, Inertia Physio+ can help. We work with people of all ages and activity levels, providing dedicated hands-on care to have you feeling your best!

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