What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapists are licensed health care professionals who evaluate and treat people with health problems resulting from injury or disease. They measure many different aspects of human function including muscle strength, joint range of motion, endurance and balance. They assess where the deficits are causing pain or decreased function. Along with these findings and in conjunction with the doctor’s prescription, physical therapists formulate a treatment plan to promote the patient’s well being.
What You Need to Know About Your Physical Therapist:
- Physical therapists are professional health care providers who are licensed by the state in which they practice.
- Physical therapists enter the profession with either a baccalaureate or a post-baccalaureate degree, which consists of four to six years of study in post-secondary education. They take courses that include basic and applied science, clinical sciences, social sciences, and research.
- Many physical therapists specialize in treating specific areas of the body such as the back, neck, hand, or shoulder, or they may concentrate their practice on pre- and post-natal care, sports injuries, stroke rehabilitation, or one of many other areas of physical therapy. Physical therapists may also be certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in seven specialty areas of physical therapy: orthopedics, sports, geriatrics, pediatrics, cardiopulmonary, neurology, and clinical electrophysiology.
- Physical therapists practice in hospitals, independent offices and clinics, private homes, public schools, rehabilitation centers, work site clinics, and many other settings.
- Some states require a referral from a physician before you can receive physical therapy. However, you always have the freedom to choose your own physical therapist. Although a physician may refer you to a physical therapy facility in which the physician has a financial interest, you are entitled to seek treatment from the physical therapist of your choice.
- Most insurance policies cover physical therapy services when provided by a physical therapist. Some policies require co-payments for some benefits. You should be familiar with what your policy does and does not pay.
- Physical therapists evaluate your condition, set up a treatment program, answer your questions about your care, and keep a record of your progress. The objective of physical therapy is to treat and prevent disability and to relieve pain, increase your ability to function, and help you meet your treatment goals.
- Your initial visit to a physical therapist consists of an evaluation including a review of your health history, a list of findings, a list of problems that can benefit from physical therapy, treatment goals, and a treatment plan and time table for achieving these goals.
- Physical therapists communicate with other health care providers involved in your treatment so that you receive comprehensive, quality care with the maximum outcome. You as the patient are a part of the team too, and your physical therapist will discuss your treatment and answer your questions about your program. To aid in recovery and maintain results, the physical therapist will also involve you in your plan of care.
- Feel free to ask a physical therapist questions. With the freedom to choose any physical therapist, you are the most qualified individual to determine which therapist can help you meet your goals.
- Physical therapists who are members of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) pledge to comply with the Association’s Code of Ethics and Guide for Professional Conduct. APTA members maintain and promote high standards in the provision of physical therapy services.