Everything You Need to Know About Physical Therapy

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So, you’ve heard about physical therapy, but you’re not sure what it is or if you need it?

Or, perhaps, you’ve already searched for ‘’ online, but you haven’t found the resources you’re looking for?

Wonder no more.

Put simply; physical therapy is a non-invasive treatment to reduce pain and stiffness, improve your mobility, and help you get your independence back.

In this article, we will discuss a physical therapist’s qualifications, how to tell if you need physical therapy, and exactly what to expect when you make your first appointment.

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Physical therapists (also known as PTs) are licensed professionals who are certified to provide physical therapy services in the states in which they work. They must possess a from an accredited institution, and they are required to pass an exam before they are allowed to practice.

Although existing physical therapists who are already practicing with only a master’s degree may continue to practice, new admissions into the field must obtain a doctorate.

A physical therapist will assess your overall condition, and they will use a personalized treatment plan to try and lessen the pain and help you regain your mobility.  

Do You Need Physical Therapy?

If you have an injury or health condition that causes you pain and impairs or limits your movement, you need the services of a skilled physical therapist.

While physical therapists are trained to help people of any age, many of them specialize in treating people of a certain age – such as the elderly, infants, or children. No matter how old you are, you should book an evaluation with a physical therapist if you are experiencing loss of mobility or impaired function.

Physical therapists evaluate and treat many common health conditions and injuries, including (but not limited to) fractures, stroke, , spinal cord injuries, arthritis, amputations, and sports injuries. Bear in mind that this list is not exhaustive – physical therapists can also treat numerous other problems.

If you feel like you can benefit from seeing a physical therapist, discuss it with your primary healthcare provider. Suppose you have a limited range of movement and are unable to perform everyday tasks. In that case, your healthcare provider will refer you to a physical therapist, who will work with you and alongside your healthcare provider to restore your range of movement.

Another reason to get an evaluation from a physical therapist is as a preventative measure – a physical therapist can analyze the way you move and devise a strategy to help you retain your mobility later in life. For instance, some physical therapists work with professional athletes to avoid rehabilitation and keep their bodies performing with maximum mobility and function.

A doctor is giving her patient physical therapy - Physical Therapy

Where Can You Get Physical Therapy?

Because physical therapists work in many different settings, you’ll find them wherever people struggle with mobility.

Physical therapists offer their services in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, schools, cardiac rehab centers, and with sports teams. If you cannot leave your home due to an injury or accident, some physical therapists will even come to your home.

How to Prepare for Your Appointment

Once you’ve decided to use a professional physical therapist, there are a few things you should do to ensure you get the most out of your therapy.

To choose a physical therapist in your area, look at online reviews to find a proven track record among the therapist’s patients, and ask the right questions before booking your appointment. While all physical therapists are qualified to treat a wide variety of conditions, try to find a clinical specialist who knows how to treat your specific condition.

Prepare for the appointment by thinking about what you want to achieve with treatment – your physical therapist will help you set specific goals and targets for your progress. If you don’t understand your physical therapist’s treatment strategy, ask them to clarify it for you.

You should also ask if your health insurance plan will cover the cost of treatment, what clothes you should wear to your evaluation, and if the physical therapist has any no-show or cancellation policies.

What to Expect During the Evaluation

At your first appointment, they will perform a thorough evaluation of your condition to determine the best mode of treatment. The assessment may involve taking measurements, as well as gathering information about your injury or medical condition.

Typically, impairments are discovered by measuring your range of motion, level of pain, joint mobility, balance, flexibility, and strength, as well as testing your neurological, cardiac, pulmonary, and overall function.

After your physical therapist has determined how your illness or injury affects you, they will determine a prognosis and provide you with a strategy to increase your mobility and improve your wellbeing. They will also recommend a treatment plan and discuss your goals.

What to Expect During Treatment

Your physical therapist has many techniques at their disposal – these techniques are specifically designed to decrease pain, reduce stiffness, improve your strength and mobility, and increase your range of motion.

Your physical therapist may employ physical aids such as ice, heat, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to help you achieve your mobility goals. If you suffer from a decreased range of motion, you may be prescribed therapeutic exercise to improve function and increase your strength.

During treatment, physical therapists aim to educate their patients about their illness or condition –  as well as their prognosis –  by using models, charts, or diagrams. You may also be given ‘homework’ or exercises to perform on your own.

Final Words

When you don’t know what to expect from a physical therapist, the evaluation, or your therapy, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and a little anxious. You may worry about what will happen or if the treatment will be painful – but these worries usually go away when you meet your therapist and start working on your goals.

Understanding how a professional physical therapist can help you reduce pain, improve your mobility, and help you set realistic goals will ensure that your experience is a positive one.

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