What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy addresses the illnesses or injuries that limit a person’s abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTs use an individual’s history and physical examination to arrive at a diagnosis and establish a management plan and, when necessary, incorporate the results of laboratory and imaging studies like X-rays, CT-scan, or MRI findings. Electrodiagnostic testing (e.g., electromyograms and nerve conduction velocity testing) may also be used.
PT management commonly includes prescription of or assistance with specific exercises, manual therapy, and manipulation, mechanical devices such as traction, education, electrophysical modalities which include heat, cold, electricity, sound waves, radiation, assistive devices, prostheses, orthoses, and other interventions. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles, providing services to individuals and populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan. This includes providing treatment in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by aging, injury, disease, or environmental factors.
Functional movement is central to what it means to be healthy. Physical therapy is a professional career which has many specialties including musculoskeletal, orthopedics, cardiopulmonary, neurology, endocrinology, sports medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics, women’s health, wound care and electromyography. Neurological rehabilitation is, in particular, a rapidly emerging field. PTs practice in many settings, such as private-owned physical therapy clinics, outpatient clinics or offices, health and wellness clinics, rehabilitation hospitals facilities, skilled nursing facilities, extended care facilities, private homes, education, and research centers, schools, hospices, industrial and these workplaces or other occupational environments, fitness centers and sports training facilities.