How do I choose my Biokineticist?

Choosing a Biokineticist:

  • Between professions:
    Choosing the right professional for the right job can be difficult. Especially when there are so many professionals and services available to choose from. To the layman it is not always clear as to what the scope of each profession is. There is often confusion between Physiotherapy and Biokinetics, or Biokinetics and personal training. The short answer is that a Biokineticist is a medical professional that uses exercise as a treatment. They are more qualified than your average trainer, and do not do soft tissue work like a Physiotherapist. All three sell exercise. But Physiotherapists and Biokineticists are more qualified, and medically trained to do so. So please be careful when selecting a personal trainer for injury rehab.
  • Within Biokinetics:
    Knowing how to pick the right Biokineticist has an impact on your success outcome. Having the best social media platform or the best SEO does not necessarily equate to skill or ability. So be prepared to search wider than just online. Every year there are at least 70 students graduating from various Biokinetics programmes around the country. A number of these students will drop out of the industry following their internship year. But many continue on to work alongside other more established Biokineticists.

Here are some pointers to assist with your decision making process:

Simple choices:

  • Gender: This is a personal preference and is often the easiest choice to make. You either have a particular preference or you don’t.
  • Location: Choose a Biokineticist that is in a location that suits your life. If you have a Biokineticist that is too far away / or in a location that is not user friendly (parking, etc.) it can be a barrier to your training. Biokinetics rehabilitation is an active process, you need to be involved in your recovery. Therefore you need to make the journey as easy as possible.
  • Time: A Biokinetics consultation is a medical appointment. Unfortunately it is often considered as a “training session”. As a result most people are unwilling to take time off work. They prefer an appointment before / after work, or on a weekend. Choose a Biokineticist that is able to arrange a mutually agreeable time. Otherwise come up with a strategy that will allow you to have a mid-day consultation.

Harder choices:

  • Experience: This is a difficult decision as older does not necessarily equal wiser.  With more time in the industry a Biokineticist has more time to make acquaintances and to build a referral network. However, do not get lulled into a false sense of security as older practitioners could be dogmatic and out of date. On the other hand younger Biokineticists may not have experience with your particular condition, leaving you as a guinea pig.
  • Duration: Initial consultations take between 30-60min. For complex cases it is essential to have a longer and more thorough assessment. Shorter consultations can be arranged for ankles, elbows, and wrists. Follow up sessions can be between 30-60min. Be careful of sessions that are too short and too rushed. Choose a Biokineticist that dedicates enough time to help you with your recovery.  One that is invested in the process and not just interested in your session as a pay cheque.
  • Frequency: Frequency depends on your condition. Some conditions require a weekly session for the first 6-8 weeks. Then should scale down to less frequent sessions. Be careful of being roped into 3x per week sessions, or once a week sessions with no timeline. You are welcome to see a Biokineticist on a regular / lifetime basis if you are financially able to, but it is not essential. Your Biokineticist should be your exercise mentor. They should help to guide you through your rehabilitation process and then become “obsolete” once you have recovered. A successful Biokineticist is one that trains you so well that you are able to survive and thrive without them at the end of the treatment process.  There is no fixed timeline for rehabilitation, but try to get a ball park figure before you begin so that you are not strung along for a never ending rehabilitation journey.
  • Structure: Your initial consultation will be one-on-one with the Biokineticist. Hopefully your follow up sessions will be as well. One-on-one sessions involve more direct supervision and professional guidance. However, some practices prefer to have group rehabilitation sessions or a greater patient to practitioner ratio. This is done for financial gain rather than evidence based medicine / best practise. Some medical professionals (including Biokineticists) will have 3-4 patients booked for one time slot. The practitioner then roams between the patients as they are doing their exercises. There is no problem with this kind of training, but do not expect customised training. If you want bespoke-Biokinetics then you need one-on-one sessions.
  • Price: Price has unfortunately become a big factor in how patients choose their Biokineticist. Prices for initial consultations range from R250 to R800, depending on: province, practice location, level of experience / confidence. Follow up consultations range from R250 to R600. It is not wise to shop around based on price. Rather follow the steps below to find out more information so that you can make an educated decision.

Where to look:

  • Referrals: First place is to ask any of your existing medical professionals if they know of a Biokineticist. Or if they refer to a particular Biokineticist that they trust.
  • Word of mouth: Ask your friends / family / work colleagues if they can recommend a good Biokineticist.
  • Discovery Vitality Network: (LINK) This is the most comprehensive list of Biokineticists in South Africa as it lists all of the Biokineticists registered to perform Discovery Vitality tests. The limitation is that some Biokineticists are not registered.
  • The Biokinetics Association of South Africa BASA: (LINK) This is a list of Biokineticists that are registered with the Biokinetics Association of South Africa. It is not compulsory for Biokineticists to be a member of BASA therefore the list is limited.
  • Medpages: (LINK) Medpages is a directory of medical professionals that are Registered with the HPCSA (LINK) or AHPCSA (LINK). It is an open registry, but practitioners have to voluntarily supply their details. The more prominent listings are paid for.
  • SA medical specialists: (LINK) SA medical specialists is a directory of medical professionals that are Registered with the HPCSA or AHPCSA. It is an open registry, but practitioners have to voluntarily supply their details. To be listed requires an annual licence fee.
  • Virgin Active: Most Virgin Active clubs (excluding Virgin Red clubs) have an onsite Biokineticist. Ask the General Manager or Fitness Manager at your local Virgin Active for more information.
Places to be weary of:
  • Scope: Biokineticists are trained medical professionals that are registered with the HPCSA to assess individual needs, and then prescribe rehabilitative exercise. The scope of Biokinetics, at this point in time, is limited to exercise and exercise prescription. It does not involve “physical modalities” (massage, joint manipulation, hands on myofascial release techniques, dry needling, acupuncture, Bodywork, craniosacral therapy, etc.) or non-registered modalities (Reiki, Touch for health – Kinesiology, BSR, TRE, selling products / supplements, etc.). Please be careful when consulting with practitioners that stray outside of the boundaries of their registered profession. There is a time and place for those modailites, but not within the realm of Biokinetics. If you cannot code for the treatment on a medical statement then it is not prescribed or accepted as part of the scope of Biokinetics. If you have claimed for these non-registered services then it is considered to be medical aid fraud and the practitioner should be reported.
  • Paid for listings: Paid for listings on search engines (Google Adwords, etc) or social media (Facebook) are not allowed. The medical / ethical stance is that practitioners should refrain from self promotion. The reason being is that practitioners who are more financially able to advertise are not necessarily the best practitioners in terms of treatment. Paid for web presence and success are not mutually exclusive or directly correlated.
  • Special offers: Specials, discounts and guarantees should be warning signs rather than an indicator of success / ability to treat. Biokineticists are medical professionals and should not use cheap marketing techniques to canvas clients.
  • Ego: Drawing attention to personal attributes, sporting achievements, non-registered academic qualifications, and areas of specialization are frowned upon. These factors have no relevance when it comes to level of skill, or ability to treat a patient.
  • Non-registered Biokineticists: A practicing Biokineticist is required by law to be registered with the HPCSA. If your Biokineticist is not registered then you should find out why. The HPCSA registration is for your safety as a patient.
  • Non-practising  Biokineticists: Some Biokineticists opt not to practise as Biokineticists (even if they are registered with the HPCSA). They choose to work as personal trainers / exercise scientists / conditioning coaches.  They have made this choice voluntarily and therefore should not be doing Biokinetics rehabilitation.
Word of mouth is the best source of information on how to find a good Biokineticist. However, if you are not in a position to get word of mouth feedback then hopefully this post will help guide you to make an informed decision about who to see. Future posts will deal with when you should see a Biokineticist.

Acknowledgements / links:

  1. Discovery Vitality Network: (LINK)
  2. The Biokinetics Association of South Africa BASA: (LINK)
  3. Medpages: (LINK)
  4. SA medical specialists: (LINK)
  5. Image: © 2016 HigherEdGames (LINK)

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