Treatment. Education. Prevention.

What is the difference between a physiotherapist and a physical therapist?

The term physical therapist and physiotherapist are interchangeable. The term physical therapist originated in the United States, and physiotherapist has always been used in the UK. In Canada you'll find most people use the term physiotherapist.

Many people are familiar with the physiotherapist's roll in rehabilitation after a musculoskeletal injury or surgery. Others have been exposed to physiotherapy treatment of head injuries and strokes. You will also find physiotherapists treating cardiorespiratory conditions, teaching, and providing consulting services to industry and recreation.

Because physiotherapists are experts in movement and function, it is important that you know that your provider is a physical therapist is registered with the appropriate licensing body of your province. Although you may see signs offering "physical therapy", the services offered may not be performed by a regulated professional, therefore leaving you at risk of injury or worse.

A physiotherapist has received several years of post-graduate University training through a faculty of medicine and completed the appropriate internships. They are regulated and must meet rigorous standards of practice to continue treating patients. Physiotherapists exercise independent professional judgment in unique, complex and uncertain situations. Their services are designed to achieve optimal health outcomes and utilize resources efficiently and safely. Physiotherapists act as members and leaders of health teams and have a responsibility to both respect the roles of team members and to initiate intervention in their own area of expertise. For more information on standards of practice and to find out if your physiotherapist is registered to practice in Ontario follow the link www.cpto.com.

What can a physiotherapist tell me about my disorder?

Physiotherapists are authorized to perform the controlled act of communicating a diagnosis identifying a disease, a physical disorder or dysfunction as the cause of a person’s symptoms.

Physiotherapists are also interested in and responsible for defining movement and pain disorders which arise from disease states.

In Canada there are 13 "controlled acts". These are acts that are potentially harmful if performed by untrained and unregulated people and include the act of communicating a diagnosis.

The communication of the conclusions reached by the physiotherapist following an assessment of a client involves:
  • Communicating to the individual or his or her personal representative, the physiotherapist's assessment findings which identify the cause of symptoms of the individual in circumstances in which it is reasonably foreseeable that the individual will rely on the information to decide whether to agree to the intervention recommended by the physiotherapist.
  • Using the necessary data from the assessment to draw relevant conclusions about the effect of the disorder on functional movement. In reaching this determination, the physiotherapist relies on specific measured criteria that reflect the domains of impairment, disability and handicap. Clients are then informed how specific findings of impairment, disability or handicap are integrated when forming conclusions.

Physiotherapists are expected to:
  • Communicate assessment findings and ensure that the information is understood by the client.
  • Physiotherapists have the right of primary access and may be the first health care practitioners to see the client. In the course of their assessment, they may find signs or symptoms which are indicative of a disease or disorder of which the client is unaware. It is the physiotherapist's ethical and professional responsibility to refer a client to another appropriate health care practitioner when the physiotherapist believes that further investigation is required.

Is physiotherapy covered by OHIP?

As of August 2013, no physiotherapy in the province of Ontario is funded by OHIP. Public funding of physiotherapy services is now provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care through community care access centres (CCAC).

In this time of government fiscal restraint, the government's commitment of millions of dollars toward physiotherapy provided by physiotherapists is an indication of the value of physiotherapy services provided by physiotherapists. The new model of funding provides better access to physiotherapy for patients in need all over the province.

Physiotherapy is available to seniors and eligible clients through CCAC based on assessed need and will be available in more locations across Ontario. There is no set limit on physiotherapy services in clinics. Patients attending a CCAC clinic will receive as many physiotherapy sessions as they need to recover as determined by their treating physiotherapist.

Who is eligible to receive publicly funded physiotherapy?

Eligibility for publicly funded physiotherapy has not changed with the new funding. Patients may be eligible for publicly funded clinic-based physiotherapy if they have a physician or nurse practitioner referral and are:

  • Seniors aged 65 and older
  • 19 years of age and under
  • Any age if discharged from hospital after an overnight stay for a condition requiring physiotherapy
  • Recipients of Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program

Where can I receive publicly funded physiotherapy services?
Further information about publicly funded physiotherapy and exercise classes can be found at the CCAC website.

CCAC contact info

At the Great Lakes Physiotherapy Clinics we are not publicly funded but keep our prices competitive, and we never expect you to pay up front if you can't. Check your extended health care plan. If you have coverage for dental work and/or medications, then chances are you have coverage for physiotherapy.

Will physiotherapy be covered by my extended health care plan?

Like dental care, most extended health care plans offer some coverage for physiotherapy. The amount of coverage you receive depends on the plan your company supplies or the plan your union has negotiated for you. You should consult your human resources department or call your carrier to find out the details of your coverage. Unfortunately due to Canadian privacy legislation we are unable to call your insurance company to confirm your coverage. This is something that only the policy holder can do.

Unlike pharmacists and dentists, the insurance industry does not allow us to bill them directly with a standard form or card. Some insurance companies will allow us to bill them directly online, but not all insurance companies are set up for this. Let us know what insurance company you use and we will do our best to streamline the process.

How long will physiotherapy take?

Length of treatment will depend on your diagnosis and assessment findings. Typically the longer you have a condition often times the longer it will take to resolve. Typical frequency of visits is 2 to 3 times per week. Some conditions such as congenital muscular torticollis require extensive parental education and implementation of a home program. This is monitored less frequently. Other injuries such as those sustained at work may require more frequent visits. WSIB may expect you to come daily if you are off work. Some postoperative protocols need to be strictly adhered to. The number of treatments you need depends on your diagnosis, severity of your impairments, your past medical history, age, whether you smoke, etc. You may need one treatment or months of treatment depending on all of the above.

Will the physiotherapists communicate with my family doctor?

Normally we will send a copy of your initial assessment to the referring and family physicians. It is our belief that through this team effort and good communication that the patients can receive timely and thorough treatment. If for any reason you do not want us to communicate with your family physician, we will of course respect your wishes.

What happens if I delay treatment?

With any soft tissue injury the body responds with an attempt to heal itself. The inflammatory process that immediately ensues results in swelling, pain, scar tissue formation and adhesions and muscular inhibition. If the correct treatment is not initiated promptly you may be left with chronic inflammation, muscular imbalances, adhesions, and the development of abnormal movement patterns. This can lengthen treatment and recovery times.

It's always better to address problems earlier rather than later. At Great Lakes Physiotherapy Clinics you can get an appointment the same or next day.

Who chooses which physiotherapist I go to?

You have the right to choose any physiotherapist you want. Your family doctor may give you a prescription with the name of a physiotherapy clinic on it, or your insurance company may tell you to go to a specific clinic. You are in no way obligated to go to their choice of clinics. In some cases your MD may suggest a clinic that he owns. This may seem like a conflict of interest. Studies have shown that physiotherapy costs at physician owned clinics were 39% to 45% higher. Another study showed that therapy providers spent less time with each patient in physician owned clinics and often physical therapy assistants were substituted for physical therapists. This is something to keep in mind when you choose a physiotherapy clinic.

Regardless of where you decide to go for therapy, you should always be sure that the physical therapy services you receive are provided by a physical therapist. Check the register here.

We believe we can provide you with the best care in the most cost effective manner. You will work closely with your physiotherapist and your case will be managed by the same physiotherapist from the beginning to the end.

What is your privacy policy?

Privacy of personal information is an important principle to Brock Physiotherapy, Baywood Physiotherapy & Athletic Injury Centre, Whitby Civic Physiotherapy, and Glazier Physiotherapy and sports medicine centres. We are committed to collecting, using and disclosing personal information responsibly and only to the extent necessary for the goods and services we provide. We also try to be open and transparent as to how we handle personal information. This document describes our privacy policies.

WHAT IS PERSONAL INFORMATION?
Personal information is information about an identifiable individual. Personal information includes information that relates to their personal characteristics (e.g., gender, age, income, home address or phone number, ethnic background, family status), their health (e.g., health history, health conditions, health services received by them) or their activities and views (e.g., religion, politics, opinions expressed by an individual, an opinion or evaluation of an individual). Personal information is to be contrasted with business information (e.g., an individual's business address and telephone number), which is not protected by privacy legislation.

WHO WE ARE
We use a number of consultants and agencies that may, in the course of their duties, have limited access to personal information we hold. These include accountants, lawyers, the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. We restrict their access to any personal information we hold as much as is reasonably possible. We also have their assurance that they follow appropriate privacy principles. We Collect Personal Information: Primary Purposes Like all health care organizations we collect, use and disclose personal information in order to serve our clients. For our clients, the primary purposes for collecting personal information are as follows: we collect information about health history, physical condition, function, social situation in order to help us assess what your needs are, advise you of your options, and to provide the health care you choose to have. Examples of the type of personal information we collect for those purposes include the following: name, home contact information, identification numbers, insurance benefit coverage, gender, age, language, health history, health measurements, assessment results, diagnoses, health information collected in the course of providing services, prognosis or other opinions, compliance with treatment, reasons for discharge and discharge condition and recommendations, transaction history, occupation, opinions expressed, work hours and duties, existence of a dispute, involvement with our organization, letters written to us. A second primary purpose is to obtain a baseline of health and social information so that in providing ongoing health services we can identify changes that are occurring over time. It would be rare for us to collect such information without the client's express consent, but this might occur in an emergency (e.g., the client is unconscious) or where we believe the client would consent if asked and it is impractical to obtain consent (e.g., a family member passing a message on from our client and we have no reason to believe that the message is not genuine).

WE COLLECT PERSONAL INFORMATION: RELATED AND SECONDARY PURPOSES
Like most organizations, we also collect, use and disclose information for purposes related to or secondary to our primary purposes. The most common examples of our related and secondary purposes are as follows:
  • To invoice clients for goods or services that were not paid for at the time, to process credit card payments or to collect unpaid accounts.
  • To advise clients that their product or service should be reviewed (e.g., to ensure a product is still functioning properly and appropriate for their current needs and to consider modifications or replacement).
  • To advise clients and others of special events or opportunities (e.g., a seminar, development of a new service, arrival of a new product) that we have available.
  • Our clinic reviews client and other files for the purpose of ensuring that we provide high quality services, including assessing the performance of our staff. In addition, external consultants (e.g., auditors, lawyers, practice consultants, voluntary accreditation programs) may on our behalf do audits and continuing quality improvement reviews of our Clinic, including reviewing client files and interviewing our staff.
  • Physiotherapists are regulated by the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario who may inspect our records and interview our staff as a part of their regulatory activities in the public interest. In addition, as professionals, we will report serious misconduct, incompetence or incapacity of other practitioners, whether they belong to other organizations or our own. Also, our organization believes that it should report information suggesting serious illegal behaviour to the authorities. External regulators have their own strict privacy obligations. Sometimes these reports include personal information about our clients, or other individuals, to support the concern (e.g., improper services). Also, like all organizations, various government agencies (e.g., Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Information and Privacy Commissioner, Human Rights Commission, etc.) have the authority to review our files and interview our staff as a part of their mandates. In these circumstances, we may consult with professionals (e.g., lawyers, accountants) who will investigate the matter and report back to us.
  • The cost of some goods/services provided by the organization to clients is paid for by third parties (e.g., WSIB, private insurance, Assistive Devices Program). These third-party payers often have your consent or legislative authority to direct us to collect and disclose to them certain information in order to demonstrate client entitlement to this funding.
  • Clients or other individuals we deal with may have questions about our goods or services after they have been received. We also provide ongoing services for many of our clients over a period of months or years for which our previous records are helpful. We retain our client information for a minimum of ten years after the last contact to enable us to respond to those questions and provide these services (our regulatory College also requires us to retain our client records).
  • If any of the Great Lakes physiotherapy clinics or their assets were to be sold, the purchaser would want to conduct a "due diligence" review of the Clinic's records to ensure that it is a viable business that has been honestly portrayed to the purchaser. This due diligence may involve some review of our accounting and service files. The purchaser would not be able to remove or record personal information. Before being provided access to the files, the purchaser must provide a written promise to keep all personal information confidential. Only reputable purchasers who have already agreed to buy the organization's business or its assets would be provided access to personal information, and only for the purpose of completing their due diligence search prior to closing the purchase.

You can choose not to be part of some of these related or secondary purposes (e.g., by declining to receive notice of special events or opportunities, by paying for your services in advance). We do not, however, have much choice about some of these related or secondary purposes (e.g., external regulation).

PROTECTING PERSONAL INFORMATION
We understand the importance of protecting personal information. For that reason, we have taken the following steps:
  • Paper information is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area.
  • Electronic hardware is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area at all times. In addition, passwords are used on computers. All of our cell phones are digital, as such signals are more difficult to intercept.
  • Paper information is transmitted through sealed, addressed envelopes or boxes by reputable companies.
  • Electronic information is transmitted either through a direct line or is anonymized or encrypted.
  • Staff is trained to collect, use and disclose personal information only as necessary to fulfill their duties and in accordance with our privacy policy.
  • External consultants and agencies with access to personal information must enter into privacy agreements with us.

RETENTION AND DESTRUCTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
We need to retain personal information for some time to ensure that we can answer any questions you might have about the services provided and for our own accountability to external regulatory bodies. However, we do not want to keep personal information too long in order to protect your privacy. We keep our client files for about 10 years. Our client and contact directories are much more difficult to systematically destroy, so we remove such information when we can if it does not appear that we will be contacting you again. However, if you ask, we will remove such contact information right away. We keep any personal information relating to our general correspondence with people who are not our clients, newsletters, seminars and marketing activities for about 10 years after the newsletter, seminar or marketing activity is over. We destroy paper files containing personal information by shredding. We destroy electronic information by deleting it and, when the hardware is discarded, we ensure that the hard drive is physically destroyed. Alternatively, we may send some or the entire client file to our client.

YOU CAN LOOK AT YOUR INFORMATION
With only a few exceptions, you have the right to see what personal information we hold about you. Often all you have to do is ask. We can help you identify what records we might have about you. We will also try to help you understand any information you do not understand (e.g., short forms, technical language, etc.). We will need to confirm your identity, if we do not know you, before providing you with this access. We reserve the right to charge a nominal fee for such requests. If there is a problem, we may ask you to put your request in writing. If we cannot give you access, we will tell you within 30 days if at all possible and tell you the reason, as best we can, as to why we cannot give you access. If you believe there is a mistake in the information, you have the right to ask for it to be corrected. This applies to factual information and not to any professional opinions we may have formed. We may ask you to provide documentation that our files are wrong. Where we agree that we made a mistake, we will make the correction and notify anyone to whom we sent this information. If we do not agree that we have made a mistake, we will still agree to include in our file a brief statement from you on the point and we will forward that statement to anyone else who received the earlier information.

DO YOU HAVE A CONCERN?
Our Information Officer can be reached at 905-666-8270 to address any questions or concerns you might have. If you wish to make a formal complaint about our privacy practices, you may make it in writing to our Information Officer. She will acknowledge receipt of your complaint; ensure that it is investigated promptly and that you are provided with a formal decision and reasons in writing.

For more general inquiries, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada oversees the administration of the privacy legislation in the private sector. The Commissioner also acts as a kind of ombudsman for privacy disputes. The Privacy Commissioner can be reached at:

Do I have to pay up front?

At Great Lakes Physiotherapy Clinics we will offer you two billing options:

  • You can pay after each visit with VISA, Interac, cheque, or cash; or,
  • We can submit your bill to your extended health insurance carrier and you can reimburse us when you receive the cheque, within 30 days. Most insurance companies will send the cheque to you. If you choose this option we ask that you leave a hold item. Just as the bank would not extend you credit without collateral, we also require a security item such as a cheque or VISA imprint. If the bill is left unpaid after 30 days, this security deposit is used.

What should I wear to my first visit?

You should wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing so that you can expose the area to be assessed and treated. For example, if you have a knee problem, it is best to wear shorts. For a shoulder problem, a tank top is the best choice, and for lower back problems, wear a loose fitting shirt and pants so we can perform a thorough examination.

Is physiotherapy painful?

For many patients, one of the primary objectives is pain relief. This is frequently accomplished with hands-on techniques, modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and/or heat or cold therapy. Movement often provides pain relief as well. Your physical therapist will provide you with the appropriate exercises not only for pain relief but to recover range of motion, strength, and endurance.

In some cases, physical therapy techniques can be painful. Recovering knee range of motion after total knee replacement or shoulder range of motion after shoulder surgery may be painful as we work to achieve the goal of lengthening shortened soft tissues. You will always be made to understand the source of your pain. Your physical therapist will utilize a variety of techniques to help maximize your treatment goals. It is important that you communicate the intensity, frequency, and duration of pain to your therapist.