An Overview of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a specialized area of medical treatment that treats those who have limitations in their ability to experience full and pain-free movement. A physical therapist evaluates, assesses, and treats patients using a variety of techniques. Physical therapists are licensed by the state in which they provide care to patients and are required to first earn a master’s degree in physical therapy or else a clinical doctorate degree from an accredited learning institution before taking their licensing exams. 

Physical Therapy Treatment

Treatment regimens are tailored to the patient in response to the physical condition or challenges they are experiencing. The goal of a physical therapist is to assist the patient in regaining maximum mobility and in response, a greater sense of independence. A physical therapist may use a variety of treatment methods and over time, as the patient responds to those modalities, the treatment may vary. After your assessment and exam, your physical therapist will describe and detail what treatment modalities are right for you, and how many treatments you may need in order to reach maximum mobility.

Common Conditions That Can Be Treated by a Physical Therapist

Though not every physical condition can be treated by a physical therapist, many types of injuries and illnesses that cause pain, movement limitations, physical impairment, or loss of functionality can be successfully treated. Physical therapy patients can be of nearly any age—from the very young to the elderly. Physical therapy patients may be professional athletes, students, pre-teens, but can be nearly anyone. Some physical therapists specialize in treating certain individuals such as professional athletes, the elderly, children, or others. Most clinics treat anyone who has the need for physical therapy. A shortlist of the conditions that can be effectively treated by a physical therapist includes:

  • Arthritis
  • Amputees who are experiencing pain associated with a lost limb, are transitioning to a new artificial limb, or have physical challenges associated with the loss of a limb.
  • Sports injury.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Stroke.
  • Spinal cord injury.
  • Fractured bone.
  • Recovery from surgery.

Prior to Undergoing Physical Therapy Treatment

Prior to undergoing physical therapy, if you have not been treated by a physical therapist in the past, you may have questions about the process. If you have questions, feel free to write them down before your visit to the office or simply ask when you are meeting with the support staff or physical therapist.

Undergoing Physical Therapy Treatment

Your physical therapist may use a variety of modalities when treating your condition. You may need treatment for any of the following:

  • Decrease stiffness or pain.
  • Increase mobility or range of motion.
  • Increase strength.

To achieve improved health through physical therapy, your therapist may use ultrasound, heat and ice, and/or electrical stimulation. After your initial consultation, your physical therapist will let you know which forms of treatment will be used to improve your condition. Your therapist may also recommend exercises that you can do at home to accelerate your healing.

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