Physical Therapy is a segment of health care that provides evaluation, treatment, and prevention of a wide variety of human movement and functional problems. Physical therapists are licensed health care providers that are highly skilled in the examination and treatment of the skeletal, soft tissue and neurological conditions causing dysfunction. The goals of physical rehabilitation are to restore or achieve optimal movement and function as well as to relieve pain and to educate the patient about their dysfunction, including ways to improve their ability to perform the tasks necessary in activities of daily living.
The main objectives of physical therapy are to:
- Evaluate injuries, dysfunction.
- Relieve pain.
- Promote the healing process.
- Improve or maintain a body function.
- Prevent secondary complications of an injury or disability.
- Restore function, strength, mobility, and/or coordination.
- Rehabilitate each patient to the optimal degree possible.
Many conditions respond favorably to physical therapy. Among the most common conditions treated are:
- Immediate evaluation and treatment of acute injuries to the skeletal, soft tissue and neurological systems
- Degenerative conditions – those affecting joints and locomotion – such as osteoarthritis
- Fractures, dislocations
- Muscle and soft tissue injuries
- Inflammatory conditions such as bursitis, tendonitis, etc.
- Chronic diseases/dysfunction such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic low back pain, osteoporosis and fibromyalgia
- Neurological injuries/conditions
- Circulatory conditions/disorders
Other conditions treated with physical therapy include spinal cord injuries (paraplegia, quadriplegia), burns, ulcers, amputations, various forms of neuritis, and skin diseases such as psoriasis and scleroderma.
The physical therapists work closely with physicians, nursing services, case managers and other practitioners in providing the best possible program for each patient. Patients may directly seek consultation with a physical therapist, or they may be referred for physical therapy evaluation and treatment by a physician (MD, DO, podiatrist, chiropractor, dentist), or other source; i.e., Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, Certified Physician’s Assistant, rehabilitation counselor, lawyer.