Physioteam Wuerzburg
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About the difference between Physiotherapy and Krankengymnastik

What is the real difference between “Krankengymnastik” and “Physiotherapy”?

They are simply different terms for the same thing.

In other countries the job description “Physiotherapist” has been common for years. It was only in Germany
that the job description of a “Krankengymnast” was determined by the law. This changed in 1994, when the
“law about the physiotherapy profession” was passed.

“Krankengymnasten” are now called “Physiotherapists” so what they do is called Physiotherapy.

This should not be confused with the term “Physical Therapy” (N.B. In the USA a Physical Therapist is a Krankengymnast) which is a passive therapy, such as the application of ice, heat or electronic therapy.

Physiotherapy includes the examination, analysis of findings, determination of treatment aims and priorities, and the choice of the treatment plan.
The aim is to maintain, recover or enhance physical (and psychological) functions or the training of alternative functions in case of irreparable damage.

Thus in Germany we have the following:

The Physiotherapist (=”Krankengymnast”) who practices Physiotherapy that includes giving massages and applying physical therapy.

The Masseuse who gives massages, applies physical therapy or kinetotherapy.

To be a qualified Physiotherapist you must undertake three years of training and education at either a private or national school and then pass a final examen. In these three years one acquires only the basic skills, which means that it is essential to specialize after schooling.

The treatment of a patient with high quality and efficiency requires a great wealth of experience
and continuous advanced training.

What is Physiotherapy?
“Physiotherapy is a health care profession concerned with human function and movement
and maximising potential:
It uses physical approaches to promote, maintain and restore physical, psychological and social well-beeing, taking account of variations in health status.
I t is science-based, committed to extending, applying, evaluating and reviewing the evidence that underpins and informs it practice and delivery the exercise of clinical judgement and information is at its core”
(definition taken from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy 2002)

The primary objective of Physiotherapy is:

  • to promote optimum health and function
  • .to focus foremost on resolving pain, stabilising an injury or condition and
    keeping it from getting worse
  • restoring strength, movement and functions as much as possible.
  • to enable patients to manage their own physically well-beeing independently.
The sooner the Treatment of an injury or condition begins, the better.
Early intervention with physiotherapy prevents a condition from becoming chronic, keeps muscle and other soft tissue structures from weakening through disuse, speeds healing and above all:
increases the chances of full recovery.
Cornelia Smith Susanne Weisenberger