Advanced / Specialty Training
Learn about post-graduate physiotherapy training and certifications.
Learn about physiotherapy training and certifications
How many times do you see a healthcare professional’s biography with a long list of training that means nothing to you? It may look fancy, but how does it actually help you?!
There are probably plenty of times when you’ve seen a long list of acronyms beside someone’s name. What do they mean?
It takes a long time to look everything up, so Physio Roots has compiled (and is compiling) as much information about post-graduate physiotherapy training and certifications as we can. We are putting it in one place for you to easily access it without spending hours of your own time.
So, what is advanced / specialty training?
Advanced / specialty training tries to highlight training that may have enhanced a physiotherapists skills and expanded their practice.
Physiotherapists can receive post-graduate training for many different things. In fact, one could argue that many of the most valuable skills are developed after graduating.
Some of these skills are very tangible and obvious;. Other skills are happening behind the scenes, inside the brain of your physiotherapist. Sometimes these skills are now so automatic to the physiotherapist that they don’t even realize where they came from.
The goal of this section is to highlight more than just treatment. We want you to understand that there is much more going on behind the scenes that help physiotherapists make clinical decisions and progress their practice. While it may be very obvious that a physiotherapist took extra training to put a needle in your arm, all of the training that helped the therapist make the decision to put the needle there is not so obvious.
Advanced / Speciality Training
This is where you can learn about post-graduate training, certifications and designations commonly seen in the physiotherapy profession.
Certified Hand Physiotherapists have taken a special interest in treating hand injuries. To become certified, therapists must have practiced physiotherapy for a minimum of 3 years, have mentored under a certified hand therapist and have completed a minimum of 4000 hours of direct experience treating hands. If all of the aforementioned are fulfilled, the physiotherapist must pass an exam to become certified.
1. Canadian Society of Hand Therapists (2019). About Us. URL: https://www.csht.org/ Retrieved February 23, 2019.
Clinical Specialists are leaders in a specific area of practice of physiotherapy. The Clinical Specialist program was developed by the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA). All of the clinical specialists in Canada can be found on their website. According to the CPA (2019) clinical specialists have demonstrated advanced clinical competence, leadership, continued professional development and research within their specialty. To become a Clinical Specialist, individuals must be certified by the Physiotherapy Specialty Certification Board of Canada (PSCBC).
*Please note that Physio Roots (currently) does not have filters to differentiate between practice areas of Clinical Specialists.
1. Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) (2019). Clinical Specialty Program. URL: https://physiotherapy.ca/clinical-specialist-program. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
Recovery after a concussion can be challenging and is best approached with a multidisciplinary (team). Physiotherapists play an important role on that team. A closely monitored therapeutic exercise program is an important part of rehabilitation. Vestibular rehabilitation is also commonly needed after concussion, which is a form of rehabilitation in which physiotherapists are well trained. Carefully graded and specific manual therapy techniques (hands-on treatment) can also help with recovery; many post-concussion symptoms can be generated from the neck and respond well to manual therapy.
In some provinces physiotherapists can prescribe diagnostic imaging (ex. x-ray and MRI) with additional training. If a physiotherapist is unable to prescribe imaging, they will typically refer patients to their family physician. Physiotherapists may recommend imaging if they think it is going to change a patient's course of care. By the time a physiotherapist recommends imaging, they usually suspect a problem with a very specific area of the body after performing a very thorough orthopaedic assessment and having treated the patient. Because clinics on Physio Roots may have other professionals working at them, it may not be the physiotherapist who prescribes diagnostic imaging at the clinic you're looking at.
The Diploma in Advanced Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy (Dip. AMPT) is awarded by the APTEI (Advanced Physical Therapy Education Institute) to physiotherapists who complete the APTEI's 5 Advanced Programs as well as their written and practical examinations. These courses are usually 4 days in length; each course focuses on a different region of the human body and pain science. Physiotherapists enhance their diagnostic clinical reasoning and learn new treatment techniques to help their patients. Treatment techniques include manual therapy (hands-on treatment), therapeutic exercise, taping, pain education and much more!
The APTEI offers many continuing education courses to physiotherapists. It is important to note that while there are few physiotherapists with the Dip. AMPT, many physiotherapists take courses through the APTEI. This means there is a good chance your physiotherapist uses a treatment technique obtained through APTEI education!
Physiotherapists with a Diploma in Sport Physiotherapy have experience treating athletes of all levels on and off the field and are qualified to work with Canada's highest level athletes. They have been trained through an education system provided by Sport Physiotherapy Canada (SPC). To acquire their diploma therapists must mentor under experienced therapists and pass written and practical examinations.
1. Sport Physiotherapy Canada (2019). About Us. URL: https://www.sportphysio.ca/about-us/. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy (FCAMPT) physiotherapists have undergone extensive post-graduate training in orthopaedic assessment and treatment. FCAMPT is an internationally recognized designation through the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapists (IFOMPT).
To receive their diploma, physiotherapists must complete several practical and written examinations as well as clinical mentorships. They must demonstrate profound knowledge of scientific research applicable to physiotherapy and the neuromusculoskeletal system. It typically takes about 6-years to receive the FCAMPT diploma, although it can be achieved faster. FCAMPT therapists are known for their hands-on skills.
*Many physiotherapists have taken courses that are part of the FCAMPT curriculum but do not have the FCAMPT designation. You may see therapists mention that they have "orthopaedic/manual therapy levels" (1-5) or their "intermediate diploma."
Physiotherapists with training in pelvic health (or the 'pelvic floor') are highly trained at assessing and treating pain and dysfunction associated with the pelvic region. Dysfunction of the pelvic region can lead to many complications, including (but not limited to) low back pain, hip pain, incontinence and increased urinary urgency. In some countries, a pelvic health physiotherapist is part of the public healthcare pathway for every woman prenatal and postnatal. Unfortunately Canada is not one of these countries (yet).
More and more people are discovering that physiotherapists can help with TMJ problems. The TMJ is just like any other joint in the body and physiotherapists are trained at assessing and treating it. The same treatments that can be applied to other areas of the body can be used for the TMJ. Physiotherapists can help to increase TMJ mobility, decrease pain and reduce or eliminate popping and clicking.
Dysfunction in the vestibular system is quite common and can lead to vertigo, dizziness, visual disturbance, nausea, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
Physiotherapists perform 'vestibular rehabilitation', which involves assessment and treatment of the vestibular system. There is a large body of scientific evidence supporting vestibular rehabilitation, including but not limited to use of specific exercises and manual therapy techniques. Vestibular rehabilitation is also a crucial aspect to post-concussion rehabilitation.