What is Physical Therapy?

What is Physical Therapy?

The practice of physical therapy in the U.S dates back to World War 1 when women known as reconstruction aids helped rehabilitate soldiers after injuries. They worked with people with amputations, burns, spinal cord injuries, broken bones and more. Reconstruction aids also helped those with polio and their paralysis and movement disorders. Seeing the success that these women had, an association was formed to continue efforts helping injured people return to their normal lives pain free.

Today, physical therapists must complete 4 years of undergraduate course work graduating with BA or BS and fulfill pre-requisite courses. Students move on to the 3-year extensive Doctorate program which includes classroom and clinical time. When physical therapists graduate, they have extensive knowledge in all areas of physical therapy. All physical therapists must pass the national board exam and maintain their license through continuing education. 

Physical therapy refers to the rehabilitation following acute or chronic injury/pain, disability, and other health conditions. “Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care and patient education” (APTA). There are many different settings that physical therapists practice in. These include orthopedic clinics, pediatric clinics, in-patient hospital, skilled nursing facility, school based, home health, and acute care. Orthopedic physical therapists treat a wide variety of injuries and pain including headaches, broken bones, sprains and strains, tendonitis, sports injuries, spinal disorders, TMJ pain, post-op, gait and balance, shoulder impingement, osteoarthritis, and more. At our facility, all of our Doctors of Physical Therapy are experts in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and treat patients with orthopedic and sports injuries.

After a thorough evaluation, a physical therapy appointment will consist of hands on (manual therapy), therapeutic exercises, therapeutic activities and/or neuromuscular re-education. Manual therapy consists of variety of joint mobilizations, passive range of motion, stretching and soft tissue work. Therapeutic exercise includes strengthening, stretching, plyometrics and more. Therapeutic activities include any activity that the patient needs to perform in daily life including stepping, lifting, and carrying. Neuromuscular re-education includes balance and coordination.

Physical therapists can further their education through continuing education and receiving specialty certifications. For example, to become a Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist (OCS), a PT must work a certain number of hours and sit for the national exam that tests their extensive knowledge in orthopedics. Dry needling is another certification that requires continuing education and completion of hours of training, which our physical therapists have completed.

Physical therapists have extensive knowledge to help you with your pain, injury or disability.  At Center for Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine, we are continually learning and striving to better ourselves for our patients.