To ask "What is physical therapy?" is to invite a range of answers because the profession encompasses so many facets based on the patient, the condition being treated and the techniques to do the job. Physical therapy maximizes movement and function for people who have either permanently or temporarily lost the ability. Using a combination of physical and psychological techniques, therapists work with patients to improve their quality of life.
Education And Training
In the United States, a physical therapist must hold an advanced degree in physical therapy from an accredited school. Some states have their own state examinations to pass as well. Licensing for each state depends on what that state's regulatory board has determined. Because physical therapy supplies a service that is in high demand, plenty of positions are available to the graduate; however, competition to get into the schools is fierce.
A licensed physical therapist has the option to practice in as large or small of a clinic as desired. Many choose large facilities such as hospitals, research centers or schools. Others select extended care businesses, clinics, home health care, fitness centers or large private organizations, such as a large company or professional sports team.
The physical therapy profession has many subcategories, including pediatric physical therapy, geriatric physical therapy, neurologic physical therapy and cardiopulmonary physical therapy. The physical therapy equipment and methods will vary between the different disciplines.
Physical therapy techniques encompass a broad spectrum of treatments, including hot and cold packs to sore muscles, massage, aquatic physical therapy, electric muscle stimulation, therapeutic exercises and spine manipulation. Some of the conditions that patients may have that require a visit to a physical therapist include post-surgery conditions, cystic fibrosis, post heart attack, post stroke, pulmonary fibrosis, incontinence, balance conditions, arthritis, osteoporosis, Down syndrome, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, acute sports injuries, sprains, fractures, back pain, developmental delays, spina bifida and amputations.
The history of physical therapy is linked to the earliest recorded medical studies performed in ancient Greece. Physical therapy is the ability to rehabilitate interactive components of the body, such as muscles, joints, bones and tendons.
Pediatric physical therapy is one of the many subcategories of physical and occupational therapy. A pediatric physical therapist works with children exclusively and sets up physical therapy rehabilitation programs for a variety of conditions.
An emerging profession is animal physical therapy, designed to assist animals in regaining function and rehabilitation due to disease, accident or surgery.