Biokinetics or Physiotherapy

Biokinetics or Physiotherapy image

Understanding the Difference between Biokinetics and Physiotherapy

There are many medical practices that deal with rehabilitation and mobility, physiotherapy and biokinetics being two of them. There is also occupational therapy, chiropractic and massage therapy. Here we will discuss the main differences between biokinetics and physiotherapy.

The Practice of Biokinetics

Biokinetic practitioners deal with a variety of patient groups, from the athlete who got injured and needs to return to the sports field, to therapeutic exercises and activities for those who suffer from back pain or had a joint replacement, to exercise prescription for the prevention and management of chronic degenerative diseases (incl. heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome). Biokinetics is not always your first line of therapy, but is often prescribed for the final phase of a rehabilitation programme.


A Biokineticist is a specialist exercise therapist who functions in professional alliance with other medical practitioners and is recognised by and registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. The Biokineticist aims to improve quality of life through individualised assessment of a person’s physical capacity, area or limb that is injured, followed by a prescription and implementation of preventative or rehabilitative exercise therapy.

Biokinetic training

Biokinetics training entails a four or five year degree, depending on the university and a 2 year internship.

Biokineticists can practice in different environments, including the following:

·         Corporate Sector

·         Correctional Facilities

·         Elite and Professional Sport

·         Fire Services

·         Industry

·         Local Authorities

·         Military Bases

·         Military Hospitals

·         Police Services

·         Private Practices


A biokineticist is a health professional who through health promotion and wellness creates a better quality of life for people they work with. A biokineticist may evaluate and measure body posture, body composition, functional movement, blood pressure, glucose levels lung function, heart rate, fitness, muscle strength, endurance, power, flexibility and other health screenings to:

·         Promote health and wellness

·        Restore function

·         Relieve pain, improving mobility

·        Address chronic disease comorbidities

Some Areas Biokinetics Focusses on:

·         Weight loss

·         Cardiac rehabilitation

·         Pregnancy, disability, and the elderly

·         Muscle imbalance corrections

·         Postural corrections (after injury or conditions like scoliosis)

·         Post joint replacements

·         Medical aid assessments

The Practice of Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is concerned with assessing, treating and preventing movement disorders, restoring normal function or minimising dysfunction and pain in adults and children with physical impairment or injuries. A physiotherapist enables patients to achieve the highest possible level of independence in their lives; as well as preventing recurring injuries and disability in the workplace, at home, or during recreational activities and promoting community health for all age groups.


Physiotherapists are also involved with your physical condition but will generally treat the patient with a more hands-on approach and often prior to the patient visiting the biokineticist, to restore normal body and joint or soft tissue functions. Physiotherapy also encompasses posture, balance and movement, knowledge of diseases, injury and the healing process, but the therapy applied is different to that of the Biokineticist. Physiotherapy makes use of soft tissue massage, manipulation, electrotherapy and other physical and supportive measures in the treatment of injury, disease and other disorders.

Physiotherapy training

Physiotherapy is also a 4 or 5 year degree and they also need to be registered with the HSPCA.

Physiotherapists may work in:

·         Public and private hospitals

·         Private practice

·         Community health centres

·         Day care centres and nursing homes

·         Sports centres and with sporting teams

·         Schools and pre-schools

·         Research areas

·         Occupational health units

·         Training institutions

·         Health policy development units

·         Special centres for people with physical disabilities


Some Areas Physiotherapists Focus On

  • respiratory physiotherapy on wards and intensive care units
  • neurological physiotherapy
  • musculoskeletal outpatients
  • orthopaedics
  • paediatrics
  • sports physiotherapy with elite athletes
  • ergonomics


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