"What Do Exercise Physiologists Do?"
An Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) is an allied health professional, specifically trained in using exercise, lifestyle and education in assessing, treating, rehabilitating and managing patients and clients whom fall under a broad scope of complex health issues, chronic illness and conditions, long and short-term injuries, pregnancies, mental health and chronic pain to name a few.
In a nutshell, an AEP in many ways is like a medically focused fitness coach, in that they're primarily working with people from a complex health/medical front in terms of using different modes of exercise as a means of acute and long-term treatment, often collaborating with other specialists to create safe and effective care. Also, AEP's will drive patient education and self-management as a means of lifestyle and behavior change through exercise and overall healthier life practices.
"Does An EP Only Work With Really Sick Or Injured People?"
Not really. AEP's will often have different specialties and can work within different practices - hospitals, private clinics, multi-disciplinary clinics, community health, gyms, occupational health and corporate health being some, therefore the very sick and frail aren't our only caseload. If you're an individual with some ongoing but managed complex health issues, you certainly qualify. Just like an individual whom may have recently suffered a major adverse event such as stroke.
AEP's are broadly skilled to deal with quite a varied populus but will be bound to reasonably maintain their services within the scope of relevance to whatever specific health issue is. I.e., EP services must be or should be as treatment and management specifically for any type of health concern or issue. General fitness and non-specific exercise training and personal training doesn't (or shouldn't) fall under the umbrella of clinical exercise physiology services.
"Can I See An AEP For General Fitness And Exercise Training, Like a Personal Trainer?"
Of course, AEP's absolutely can serve gen-pop clientele (General Populations) if they want to. Accredited Exercise Scientists (AES) also fall under this banner of serving gen-pops too. Different EP's will have different areas of specialty, so not all may be inclined to serve general fitness purposes. But most EP's are usually very well versed in standard fitness training principles and delivery and are generally happy to serve anyone who's keen to get into exercising and improving their general health or seeking more specific training. Added to this, the caseload of paperwork is minimal for gen-pop clients, which is always a welcome change.
"Are EP Services Covered By Insurance?"
EP services are covered by most private health funds as well as eligible under Medicare, TAC, WorkCover and DVA. Clients are able to self-refer under their private health insurance fund, provided they're eligible - meaning that you don't require a GP or any other specialist referral. To receive any services under other insurance schemes such as Medicare or WorkCover, then a formal referral from the managing GP and/or specialist is required and to be approved for ongoing EP services.
"What's The Difference Between An EP And A Physio?"
Physiotherapists scope of skills primarily work best within acute phases of management and care, whereas EP will often times take up more transitional care into the longer term rehabilitative/self-management phases of a patients recovery. Physiotherapists can diagnose and deal with many injuries or physical issues on the shorter term basis, and traditionally will primarily utlize massage and other manual therapy techniques as a short-term management strategy or a way to start that persons transition to more movement based therapy - which is where EP comes in. EP's will then work with the person from an "off the table" active therapy/exercise scope, gradually building them back to normal health and recovery through actual physical restoration of their functional capacity.
In a nutshell - Physio's help recognize the specific issue from the start, gently work with you to help you manage early phases of pain and adverse function and get you ready to commence your rehabilitation and functional recovery. EP's work with you through this next phase of rehab by thoroughly working you out of pain through activity, restoring and even improving your pre-injury physical capacities so as to bring you back up to speed and minimize ongoing risk of re-injury and other issues.
"What's 'Off The Table'?"
Off the table means active treatment that is not bound to the massage table. In the context of ongoing injuries/chronic pain situations, research has shown that traditional "table-based" treatments like massage and passive manipulations are somewhat limited in their long-term effectiveness and fit better more like a temporary "band-aid" type solution for pain sensations. It's not to say that massage and the like doesn't have some value, but for far too long it's value has been over-stated or misrepresented. Therefore, research shows that for long term improvement, an "Off the table" treatment agenda is your best chance of real recovery and change.