Keep reading to learn more about the allied health field of kinesiotherapy, where you help alleviate people's pain and suffering using exercise. Explore career duties, education requirements and earning potential for this profession.
Is Kinesiotherapy for Me?
Kinesiotherapy focuses on using exercise to treat disease, injury and disorders. This can involve helping patients recover their mobility after an injury through exercise therapy. You might teach them to use wheelchairs, crutches or prosthetics to aid in movement. An exercise program might also help alleviate pain in patients with chronic illness.
As a kinesiotherapist, you might work under physician supervision, perhaps in a general hospital, medical center, rehabilitation facility, veterans' hospital or sports medicine facility. You could also work at a postsecondary institution or a local gym.
Some kinesiotherapists work as exercise consultants or have their own private practice, which may allow for a flexible work schedule. Because it involves helping people feel better, kinesiotherapy has the potential to be a rewarding career, but you should enjoy exercise and working closely with people.
According to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), the average starting salary for a registered kinesiotherapist was between $36,000 and $47,000 per year as of April 2014 (www.caahep.org).
How Can I Work in Kinesiotherapy?
Formal education programs in kinesiotherapy and related fields are available at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are also offered in this field. However, a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement to become a registered kinesiologist. Some kinesiology bachelor's programs may require you to complete prerequisite courses in subjects like biology, kinesiology or psychology, perhaps through a pre-kinesiotherapy specialization.
A variety of different bachelor's programs allow you to focus in this area of study. For example, you might pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Kinesiology with a kinesiotherapy option or a B.S. in Human Performance with a concentration in kinesiotherapy. Programs in exercise science, movement science, physical education, sports science and sports medicine may also allow you to specialize in kinesiotherapy. To see if a program meets the requirement for professional registration, check with the American Kinesiotherapy Association (AKTA), which partners with the COPS-KT. Some of the required coursework includes exercise physiology, human anatomy and physiology, kinesiotherapy theory and practice, therapeutic exercise and first aid.
To further your abilities in this field as well as to specialize in a particular area of care, you may pursue graduate studies. The passing of comprehensive exams and the writing of a thesis or dissertation are typical graduation requirements. An advanced degree may lead to college-level teaching positions.
In order to become a Registered Kinesiotherapist (RKT), you need to complete a CAAHEP-accredited kinesiotherapy bachelor's program, which typically takes 4-5 years. You also need to complete 1,000 hours of RKT-supervised clinical internships, which you might do on campus or at an approved off-campus location. Internships are available in a variety of areas, including neurological care, cardiac rehabilitation and geriatric care. You'll then need to pass a written exam, which is offered through the Council on Professional Standards for Kinesiotherapy (COPS-KT).