Physical Therapists are professionals who treat pain, injury, or conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. They provide immediate relief from pain and improve range of motion, helping patients recover their normal activities. Physical therapists have a variety of modalities available for treatment; they may use physical therapy equipment to perform exercises that strengthen and improve the injured person’s range of motion or provide manual resistance training. Physical Therapists also use diagnostic imaging systems and diagnostic devices, such as MRI machines to help them determine the source of pain or identify the injured area. Physical therapy may be used in conjunction with surgery, medicine, chiropractic, sports medicine, and other health care professions.
Physical therapy is often the first port of call for patients seeking relief from an injury or illness. Physical therapists perform a wide range of tasks, such as conducting massage to release tension and control muscle spasms, applying therapeutic gear to reduce pain and increase range of motion, prescribing exercise programs and recommending therapeutic clothing and accessories to patients with a physical therapy need. A physical therapist may also refer patients to a specialist such as a chiropractor, an orthopedist, a physical therapist, or a podiatrist for more specialized treatment. Physical therapy is sometimes used before surgery, although this varies according to each patient’s particular needs.
The scope of physical therapy can vary greatly depending on the situation. In the acute stage, when a patient is experiencing the symptoms of an injury or illness, the PT works to restore full function by applying techniques to the injured area to promote healing. After the initial assessment, the PT may decide to start performing exercise or prescribe various forms of physical therapy, which can include exercises to strengthen the muscles around the injured region or specific exercises to target specific muscle groups. Once the patient has experienced enough physical therapy, the therapist will be able to determine which type of exercises is most effective for improving the patient’s condition.
As patients improve, the PT works to make their mobility more stable. This can be done in a number of ways, including using splints to hold the foot in a stable position while doing simple exercises. In more extreme cases, physical therapists may perform spinal decompression to help patients deal with spinal problems that cause pain and limitation. This is usually performed during one or two sessions. In some cases, the PT might also recommend physical therapy to help patients prevent further injury or pain.
Physical therapy isn’t always covered by insurance, but if it is, there are a number of ways to reduce the cost of treatment. One of these is to work with a local sports medicine clinic or physical therapist’s office to create a customized treatment plan. Often, the clinic or PTO will help patients create an individualized treatment plan based on their specific needs. Depending on the severity of a patient’s condition and the severity of the injury, PT’s may recommend a complete rehab program that consists of exercises, chiropractic treatments, massage, x-rays, and other rehabilitative exercises. Patients may also be referred to an occupational therapist or physical education instructor for additional advice or assistance in the program. Some physical therapy programs even include surgery as an option in the treatment plan.
Many physical therapy education programs are led by licensed physical therapist or osteopathic physicians. These doctors generally lead a specific area of treatment. Some areas include rehabilitation, sports medicine, geriatric, cardiology, orthopedics, neurological, cardiovascular, and pulmonary rehabilitation. If a patient is struggling with symptoms that are causing fatigue, limited ability to move around, or if they are experiencing pain, their case may be placed in the area of physical therapy.