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Physical therapy

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Physical therapy
Physical therapy

Physical therapy or physiotherapy (sometimes abbreviated to PT) is the health care profession primarily concerned with the remediation of impairments and disabilities and the promotion of mobility, functional ability, quality of life and movement potential through examination, evaluation, diagnosis and physical intervention.

What do physical therapists do?

Polio physical therapy
Polio physical therapy

Physical therapists practice the art of physical therapy and help injured or ill people improve movement and manage pain. Physical therapists typically work in private offices and clinics, hospitals, patients’ homes, and nursing homes spending much of their time on their feet, actively working with patients.

Tests and procedures

Physical therapists typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ medical history and referrals or notes from doctors, surgeons, or other healthcare workers
  • Diagnose patients’ functions and movements by observing them stand or walk and by listening to their concerns
  • Develop individualized plans of care for patients, outlining the patients’ goals and the expected outcomes of the plans
  • Use exercises, stretching maneuvers, hands-on therapy, and equipment to ease patients’ pain, help them increase their mobility, prevent further pain or injury, and facilitate health and wellness
  • Evaluate and record a patients’ progress, modifying the plan of care and trying new treatments as needed
  • Educate patients and their families about what to expect from the recovery process and how to cope with challenges throughout the process

Treatments Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, care for people of all ages who have functional problems resulting from back and neck injuries; sprains, strains, and fractures; arthritis; amputations; neurological disorders, such as stroke or cerebral palsy; injuries related to work and sports; and other conditions.

Techniques Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to care for their patients. These techniques include exercises; training in functional movement, which may include the use of equipment such as canes, crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers; and special movements of joints, muscles, and other soft tissue to improve mobility and decrease pain.

Education

Physical therapist education: Physical therapists entering the occupation need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. All states require physical therapists to be licensed.

Physical therapy assiatants

It is carried out by physical therapists (known as physiotherapists in most countries) and physical therapist assistants (known as physical rehabilitation therapists or physiotherapy assistants in some countries).

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