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I met with a post rehab professional yesterday that offers a rather interesting service. He has provides post rehab services directly to employers. I think this is a fantastic idea and with the changes we expect in health care, this will become the wave of the future. During our meeting we discussed the fine line between therapeutic exercise and exercise. Is there a physical difference between therapeutic and standard exercise…..NO!! But there are legal ramifications. The use of the term therapeutic exercise is covered under the 'Physical Therapy Practice Act 'in most states and provinces here in North America. The practice acts limits the use of phrase 'therapeutic exercise' to physical therapists. But do these professionals have a monopoly on exercise? No!!!  If they did, the health club industry would not exist and thousands of health clubs would shut down. The key concept here is the use of the term 'therapeutic'. The term 'therapeutic' is defined as serving to heal or cure. This definition places therapeutic exercise in the realm of medical treatment. This doesn't mean post rehab professionals should not provide exercise. It simply means the use of the term 'therapeutic' in conjunction with exercise may not be the best term for fitness professionals to use to describe their conditioning programs. Its an issue of semantics.

Will the exercise program the post rehab professional provides improve strength, posture, endurance, flexibility, power and function….YES!! Will that exercise consist of similar activities the client performed under the supervision of the therapist.…YES! But unless you are licensed as a physical therapist or chiropractor the use of the term 'therapeutic exercise' is restricted. Simply refer to your exercise programming at functional exercise or functional conditioning. These are better terms to describe your services. Actually these two phrases are much more indicative of the goals of your program. Will your programs produce the same results…YES!! But avoiding the use of 'therapeutic' will prevent grief later. Please continue to develop exercise programs for your clients and remember "Exercise is the key to long-term management of most medical conditions". I would like to hear your thoughts on the use of the term 'therapeutic exercise' in your post rehab practice. Is this constant vigil over the separation of therapeutic exercise and exercise……even worth the time?

Dr Mike

Medical Exercise Training Institute
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