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About Physical Therapy

Last Updated: October 05, 2022

Written by: Martin S. Malaluan III, PT, DPT, OCS

What is physical therapy?


According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapists are trained and licensed movement experts. They can diagnose and treat a range of injuries, disabilities, and health conditions. The primary aim of physical therapy is to help people who have been injured or who are disabled restore functional ADL capacity, basic strength, joint function, and prevent further injury or disability through orthopedic manual therapy, functional strength training, ADL training, neuromuscular re-education, or any targeted exercise program.


What is a physical therapist?

Physical therapist is a person who graduated from an accredited physical therapy program (5-6 years in college) and passed licensure exams administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Physical therapists are required by the board to maintain competence by taking up to 36 credits of CEU's every two-three years. Licensed physical therapists work in a range of healthcare settings, including outpatient offices, private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health, sports and fitness settings, schools, hospices, occupational settings, government agencies, and research centers.


What to expect from a physical therapist?

During the initial visit, physical therapists will perform an interview and examination to gather information including history of your past and present condition, medical/surgical history, medications, diagnostic tests performed, and patient personal treatment goals. Physical therapist will conduct tests such as posture assessment, range of motion and manual muscle strength tests, orthopedic tests, balance and proprioception tests, limb girth measurement, functional mobility tests, and etc.... After the interview and examination, physical therapist will discuss the findings and forge treatment goals with patients, and the plan of care.


What are the kinds of treatments physical therapist provides?


During the succeeding visits, physical therapists will provide treatment modalities based on the findings of the assessment. Treatment modalities includes therapeutic exercises, manual therapy (joint mobilization, manipulation, myofascial release, soft-tissue mobilization (aka massage), muscle energy techniques, active release techniques, instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, cupping, or etc.), balance and proprioception training, conditioning training (if certified or trained in strength and conditioning), taping (Kinesiotaping, sports tape), functional training, and passive modalities (heat, cold, electrical stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, biofeedback, cold laser, IR).


What to expect from a patient?


Patients are expected to wear comfortable clothing that permit access to body area that needs treatment. Avoid wearing tight pants if leg is the area that needs treatment or turtle neck when it is the neck.

Take your prescribed or OTC pain medication before or after physical therapy depending on the severity of your pain symptom.

Physical therapy is a prescribed treatment by the physician, so your utmost compliance is warrantied. A once a week or every other week physical therapy is ineffective and not helpful unless you already have an established and ongoing program.


How long is the physical therapy?


Physical therapy is short-term treatment. Physicians typically prescribe physical therapy treatment for 4-6 weeks and renewed as needed. The treatment duration in each session could last from 20-60 minutes.




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