A biokineticist is a healthcare worker specializing in human movement and exercise. The main focus of their work is to evaluate a patient’s physical condition, and then prescribe a regimen of exercise to help safely heal an injury or improve physical fitness and quality of life. People in this profession typically work in healthcare or sports medicine, in hospitals, clinics, and gyms.
To work as a biokineticist requires a four-year degree focusing on human anatomy and movement science as well as biokinetics itself. In some countries, additional training or accreditation is required following the completion of the degree. In South Africa, for example, graduates must complete a one-year internship and then register with a governmental agency to become accredited.
When first meeting with a new patient, the main objective is to evaluate his or her physical condition and fitness. This is important because this information determines what the prescribed treatment for the patient will be. A patient’s physical fitness is evaluated with the use of exercise equipment such as a treadmill or stationary bike, while the biokineticist records vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and lung capacity. Joint flexibility, muscle strength, endurance, and movement speed and coordination, are also evaluated with various different exercises. During the evaluation session a patient might be asked to walk or run on a treadmill, lift weights, and perform simple exercises to demonstrate the range of his or her physical ability.
With all of this information in hand, the biokineticist can then create an individualized exercise regimen for the patient. The objective of the exercise plan varies depending on the patient’s needs. For example, the goal might be to strengthen a broken ankle after a cast is removed, or help a patient with a chronic condition such as osteoporosis or heart disease exercise safely. Finally, the biokineticist works with the patient to implement the plan. This might include showing the patient how to perform the prescribed exercises safely, providing information about exercise equipment, and perhaps suggesting dietary changes.
Most biokineticists work in healthcare clinics or hospitals, or in gyms and other sports and exercise venues. Corporate employers, governmental agencies, and universities might also employ biokineticists as part of an on-site employee healthcare program. Some governmental agencies, including those related to corrections and defense, might also hire people in this profession.
Biokineticists don’t always work with patients who are recovering from illness or injury, however. Some specialize in sports medicine, working with athletes to improve their performance, and helping to prevent injury. On a larger scale, biokineticists might become involved in developing public health programs that focus on improving physical fitness in the general population, and other aspects of public healthcare policy.