What Is Physical Therapy?

physical therapy for the knee

What is physical therapy?

Once you have been in an accident, injured, or a stroke, your doctor may assign you to physical therapy. Newborn infants born with a birth defect, like musculoskeletal, will typically go through Physical Therapy. 

Physical Therapy is rehabilitative health using exercises specially designed to help a patient regain, relearn, or improve certain physical abilities. Physical Therapy is prescribed to many with chronic conditions and illnesses to help them manage their pain. Physical Therapy is used by many kinds of patients, from a newborn with birth defects to adults with sciatica. In most cases, they use special equipment or instruments during a physical therapy session. 

What does a physical therapist do?

Physical therapists work with other medical professionals to help a patient regain, relearn, or improve certain physical abilities lost, or never had by using knowledge and skills learned through physical therapy school. They will record and test the progress made, sharing this with their doctors as appropriate. 

Their duties may include the following and more, dependent upon their choice of employment:

  • Review medical history, notes, and referrals for a patient from a referring healthcare specialist
  • Diagnose the function and movement of a patient by observing them
  • Develop plans that are individualized for a patient’s specific goals
  • Teach a patient exercise, stretching maneuvers, therapy, and equipment to ease pain and increase
  • Educate patients and their families about what to expect from the recovery process and how best to cope with challenges throughout the process

Physical therapists take a certain type of education where they learn different techniques of exercises, functional movement, which can include using equipment like canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs. They learn special movements for a patient’s joints and muscles to gain or improve movement or minimize their pain.

How many years does it take to become a physical therapist? 

Physical Therapist is a license position that requires a level of education that typically takes three years to complete. There are specific prerequisites required for some programs that earns a bachelor’s degree. There are some physical therapists’ programs that admit college freshmen into six- or seven-year programs. Those that finish this program will have a double degree of bachelor’s degree and a DPT.

This will provide them education and training in the different types of physical therapy. 

What are the 3 types of therapy?

The field of physical therapy has sub-specialties:

  • Orthopedic Physical Therapy – this is the most commonly known physical therapy. The focus of this specialty is to restore function to a patient’s musculoskeletal system. This includes their bones, ligaments, joints, and tendons. Sports injuries often fall into the orthopedic physical therapy category and include endurance exercises, stretching, strength training, using electrical stimulation, joint mobilization, hot and cold packs, and ultrasound.
  • Geriatric Physical Therapy – this physical therapy has a focus on the movement of older adults’ unique abilities and needs. Older patients with arthritis, balance disorder, cancer, joint replacement, osteoporosis, as well as Alzheimer’s disease. Geriatric Physical Therapy goal is to reduce pain, restore mobility, and accommodate the patient’s physical limitations and increase their physical fitness.
  • Neurological Physical Therapy – A patient with Alzheimer’s disease, brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or have suffered a spinal cord injury and stroke, this type of therapy focuses on the impairments and neurological conditions with specially designed treatment plans.

There are other types of physical therapy such as Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, and Pediatric, each having specific types of treatment based around the patient’s needs and the intended goals.

 What are the four benefits of physical therapy?

A physical therapist treats patients in many phases of healing. From their initial diagnosis by another medical professional, or by the physical therapist, through restorative and into preventive stages and recovery. Patients may use physical therapy alone or with a combination of other treatments. Among the benefits the patients will receive are:

  • Pain management
  • Preventing surgery
  • Improvement of mobility and movement
  • Recovery, injury, paralysis, stroke, or trauma
  • Improve balance and fall prevention
  • Manage age-related health problems

The steps to reach these goals, a patient can expect to do one or a combination of the following:

  • Physical exam, evaluation, certain tests,
  • Evaluation of their posture, flexibility, movement, joint and muscle motion, and performance
  • A clinical diagnosis to reach a prognosis
  • A care plan specific to them with intended
  • Physical therapy treatment based on the evaluation and diagnosis
  • Receive recommendations for self-management
Therapist helping patient

Additional Questions About Physical Therapy

There are many other ailments, diseases, illness, and other health issues that physical therapy can help, which many people inquire about such as: 

Can physical therapy help osteoporosis? 

Physical therapy can treat osteoporosis without surgery. It can restore bone strength, function, and movement. A patient will learn exercises to continue making improvements and eliminate the possibility of fracture from an osteoporosis-related accident. 

Can physical therapy help nerve pain? 

Never pain is chronic for many, and physical therapy is effective in easing that pain and help a patient learn how to get through the pain without opioids. Patients that can benefit from physical therapy to help their nerve pain would be:

  • Chronic Headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Neuropathic pain (pain caused by injury to tissues or nerves)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

These patients that suffer from chronic pain will find that physical therapy will teach them how to function and move safely. 

Will physical therapy help a bulging disc? 

Herniated discs can benefit greatly from physical therapy because it relieves the pain and minimizes the chances of future disc-related injuries. Physical therapy improves poor posture and weak muscles that are the results of the disc herniating. 

Will physical therapy help knee pain? 

After knee surgery, it is typical for the surgeon to prescribe a certain amount of physical therapy. This will ease the pain, reduce inflammation, and swelling. After the physical therapy sessions, the patient will have better motion range, better balance, and be stronger.

Many ask why not search for videos on the internet to do the exercises taught in physical therapy.  The answer is simple. When it comes to the soundness of your home’s roof, would you trust watching videos to learn how to do the job? Most likely not – you’d call a professional roofing contractor. The same should be thought when it comes to physical therapy. For your custom physical therapy treatment, call Madeira Chiropractic & Rehabilitation today at (717) 263-8919.