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How to Determine if Certain Alternative Therapies are within the Scope of Practice of Kinesiology?

The practice of kinesiology is growing as new treatments, complementary therapies, and alternative therapies are made available. The Canadian Kinesiology Alliance (CKA) and the Provincial Kinesiology Associations (PKAs) wish to assist Kinesiologists when considering the use of new treatments/therapies. This document will provide information for kinesiologists who may recommend or provide complementary therapies, and alternative therapies, in conjunction with their practice of conventional kinesiology, or may have clients seeking or receiving these therapies in addition to conventional kinesiology treatment.

Important: In this document, the words therapies and treatments are used in a general and broad term to mean modalities.

Whenever considering whether an activity, or the use of a particular device, is within the scope or practice of kinesiology, a Kinesiologist should consider whether it:

  1. involves a controlled act or some other legally regulated activity; and
  2. whether it falls within the defined scope of practice of kinesiology
    (i.e. assessment, rehabilitation and management of human movement and performance.)

Kinesiologists should also consider whether they are competent to perform the activity or to employ the device in a safe and effective manner. Remember that Kinesiologists cannot prescribe pills/medications nor can they penetrate beneath the skin (dermis) i.e. implant devices, diabetes testing. Even if certain reserved activities are shared between several professionals, they do not have the same scope for each of them since they must register within the parameters set by their field of practice.

When Kinesiologists are considering using new treatments, complementary therapies and alternative therapies, we suggest that one considers:

  1. What is meant by conventional therapies, complementary therapies or alternative therapies?
  2. What are the expectations for practice?
  3. What are the specific expectations when providing complementary therapies or alternative therapies?
  4. What are the specific expectations of clients requesting or receiving complementary therapies or alternative therapies?
  5. What else must be considered before providing some therapies (e.g. insurance, scope)?

Updated : 2020-05-12

Without prejudice

Disclosure: Currently the practice of kinesiology varies from one province to another. The information in this document may differ and not correspond with the provincial legislation. The main purpose of this document is to present the current portrait of kinesiology (definitions, fields of practice, acts, etc.) across Canada, with information regarding resources in the various fields of kinesiology, practical tools, the extent of its scope of practice and other potentially useful documents. This document is in perpetual revision as per the evolution of the practice of kinesiology in Canada. The CKA / ACK will not be held responsible for any consequences or damages that may occur as a result of the use, misuse, misinterpretation or abuse of the information found on its website. We emphasize that the aim of this document is to help guide you. Should anyone require guidance in interpreting any of the provided information, they should seek the advice of their provincial kinesiology association

This document is based on a similar guideline from the College of Kinesiology of Ontario (CKO) which was based on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario Policy Statement. The CKA thanks and acknowledges the CKO for sharing information as a resource for the development of this guideline.


  1. What is meant by conventional therapies, complementary therapies and alternative therapies?

In kinesiology, conventional therapies are evidence-based therapeutic interventions, founded on a modern conceptualization of disease/dysfunction and rooted in the scientific principles (physiology, biomechanics, neurology, mobility, anatomy, psychology, sociology, posturology, anthropometry). These therapies, like exercise prescription and functional ability assessment, form the core of kinesiology practice.

Complementary therapies, and alternative therapies, fall within a broad group of therapeutic practices, services, remedies, or devices based on various theories or beliefs, which may or may not be grounded in evidence-based practice and scientific principles. Examples include herbal supplements, and homeopathic remedies.

There may not always be a clear distinction between conventional therapies, complementary therapies and alternative therapies. Moreover, some aspects of complementary therapies and alternative therapies may become incorporated into conventional kinesiology practice over time if scientific evidence, and support for the particular intervention, expands.

  1. What are the expectations for practice?

The following general principles should guide a kinesiologist when recommending, or directly providing, complementary therapies or alternative therapies, and when dealing with a client who requests or is receiving these therapies from another provider.

Act in the Best Interests of the client:  As healthcare professionals, kinesiologists must always act in the best interests of the client. A Kinesiologist’s recommendations and treatment must be focused on the needs, goals, and interests of the client, not on the interests of the Kinesiologist. Kinesiologists must refrain from the exploitation of clients for personal or professional gain.

Respect the Autonomy of Client Choice:  Clients are entitled to set goals and make decisions about their care, including goals and decisions with which the treating Kinesiologist may disagree. Kinesiologists should serve as a trusted resource for healthcare information by providing unbiased, accurate, and clinically appropriate recommendations for treatment to support informed client choice. Kinesiologists should acknowledge the diversity of cultures within a multicultural client population, including indigenous/First Nations cultures, and respect how these differing cultural perspectives may inform client choice. Kinesiologists must always obtain a client’s informed consent prior to initiating treatment.

Avoid or Appropriately Manage Conflicts of Interest : Kinesiologists are expected to avoid or appropriately manage potential conflicts of interest. This is of particular importance when recommending or providing complementary therapies or alternative therapies in which the Kinesiologist may have a personal or financial interest.

Practice within the Limits of Personal Skill, Knowledge and Judgement: Kinesiologists are expected to limit their practice, whether conventional or complementary or alternative, to their individual sphere of competence. Kinesiologists must ensure that they possess adequate skill, knowledge, and judgement to recommend or provide any treatment modality, and should refer clients to other healthcare providers where the required, or requested, treatment would fall outside of this sphere.

Compliance with Governing Laws, Standards and Guidelines: Kinesiologists must comply with all governing laws, standards, and guidelines, both relating to their practice of kinesiology and any other complementary therapy or alternative therapy they may offer. This includes any licensing/registration requirements and professional standards related to other specifically-regulated therapies (e.g. acupuncture). The Kinesiologist is responsible for knowing requirements relating to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) as well as any other applicable legislation.

  1. What are specific expectations when providing complementary therapies and alternative therapies?

Conventional Assessment First: Prior to recommending or providing a complementary therapy or alternative therapy to a client, a Kinesiologist must first have performed a conventional client assessment and formulated conventional treatment recommendations on the basis of that assessment. The Kinesiologist’s clinical assessment and judgement must be informed by evidence-based practice.

Criteria for Complementary Therapy and Alternative Therapy: Moreover, if a Kinesiologist plans to recommend, or provide, a complementary therapy or alternative therapy to a client, the recommended therapy must satisfy the following criteria:

  • The therapy must be logically related to the client’s condition and treatment goals.
  • The therapy must have a reasonable expectation of improving the client’s condition or helping them to achieve their treatment goals.
  • The overall risks and costs of the therapy must not outweigh its potential benefits, in particular when compared with conventional therapies.

Client Discussion: In discussing treatment options with a client, and when obtaining a client’s informed consent, the Kinesiologist must do the following:

  • The Kinesiologist must provide information about all therapeutic options, including conventional therapies, and never overstate or exaggerate the benefits (or understate or minimize the risks) of a particular therapy.
  • The Kinesiologist must never make a claim about a remedy, treatment, device or procedure other than a claim that can be supported as a reasonable professional opinion.
  • When recommending a complementary therapy or alternative therapy, the Kinesiologist must provide the client with the following information about the therapy:
    • The extent to which the therapy is supported by conventional kinesiology practice and scientific evidence.
    • How the therapy would compare with conventional kinesiology therapies.
    • A reasonable assessment of the expected clinical efficacy of the therapy.

As noted above, a Kinesiologist who plans to recommend, or provide complementary therapies, or alternative therapies must ensure that any potential conflict of interest is avoided or appropriately managed and that they have the requisite skills, knowledge, and judgement to do so safely and effectively.

  1. What are specific expectations for patient requesting or receiving complementary therapies and alternative therapies?

Client Requests: Clients may sometimes request information about, or ask a Kinesiologist to provide, a particular complementary therapy or alternative therapy. Kinesiologists are not expected to be knowledgeable about every complementary therapy or alternative therapy that a client may ask about, nor are Kinesiologists expected to provide a particular therapy simply because it was requested by a client. Kinesiologists are expected to limit their practice to their sphere of competence and to recommend, and provide, treatment in accordance with their professional judgement and the client’s best interests. As much as possible, Kinesiologists should act as a resource for accurate and objective treatment information and should refer clients to another trusted source, such as another regulated healthcare provider, if the Kinesiologist is unable to answer particular questions.

Clients Receiving Therapies Elsewhere: When completing clinical histories for clients, Kinesiologists should ask their clients about other treatments they are receiving, including complementary therapies and alternative therapies. Kinesiologists should record the use of any complementary therapies, or alternative therapies, in a client’s chart and be mindful of any possible interactions or contraindications that these therapies may create with the kinesiology plan of care. Kinesiologists should update a client’s clinical history at regular intervals.

  1. What else must be considered before providing some therapies (e.g. insurance, scope) ?

Let’s look at an example of a treatment modality you may consider using.

Sam is a Kinesiologist and she is interested in using High Intensity Laser Therapy in her clinic for non invasive interventions. She must first decide if there is enough scientific evidence for this treatment modality.  She must research credible sources and journals to reach a decision.  She then must fully understand how to use this modality which may include specific training, or a course, to ensure she is competent in how to use the device including all indications, contraindications, risks, benefits and different uses of lasers.  She would ensure this treatment falls within her scope of practice and she would ensure her clients/clients are informed of all the risks, benefits, alternative options, before obtaining consent.  She must also contact her insurance company to ensure there is adequate coverage for a Kinesiologist using a laser for therapeutic purposes.

From an insurance point of view, Laser therapy is dealt with on a case by case basis. In order to provide Laser therapy, a Kinesiologist must get additional coverage from the CKA National Insurance Program through PROLINK. One must get approval from the insurance provider for a Kinesiologist using a Class 3 laser - (cold laser). There is an additional premium associated with extending coverage to this type of service through CKA PROLINK Insurance. Class 3 and Class 4 lasers can cause eye and skin damage. Kinesiologists will have to prove that they are fully trained/certified and are aware of the safety guidelines (in terms of preventing eye and skin damage) before they will be approved to extend their insurance coverage to this service

Summary

When a Kinesiologist is interested in using new treatments, complementary therapies, alternative therapies, or the use of particular device, they must first consider:

  • whether it involves a controlled act or some other legally regulated activity
  • whether it falls within the defined scope of practice of kinesiology, including if it is evidence-based, and has gone through rigorous scientific studies.
  • whether they hold the necessary competence to be able to perform the activity or to employ the device in a safe and effective manner.
  • whether they hold sufficient insurance coverage specifically for this therapy.

Alternative Therapies reviewed by the CKA