Physical Therapy

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy is a medical treatment used to restore functional movements, such as standing, walking, and moving different body parts. Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for medical conditions or injuries resulting in pain, movement dysfunction, or limited mobility. Physical therapists can diagnose patients based on their movement patterns and tailor their treatment plans to their health issues. PTs are not only knowledgeable in how a body moves, but also how different body systems integrate with movements. They understand how the cardiovascular, neurological, and endocrine systems can all affect movement.

Who receives physical therapy?

Physical therapists will typically work with patients who have experienced an injury or illness which has impacted their bodily function in some way, such as:

  • A fractured bone or sprained joint
  • Musculoskeletal conditions, such as a torn rotator cuff, generalized neck and back pain, or temporomandibular joint disorders
  • Cardiopulmonary conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, post-myocardial infarction, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Sports injuries (including concussion)
  • Women’s health concerns
  • And more
  • The goal of physical therapy is to regulate and manage pain, improve muscle weakness, increase endurance, and generally improve range of motion. Exact goals of treatment will, of course, depend upon the needs of individual patients.

Physical Therapy vs Occupational Therapy

The primary difference between the two fields is that physical therapy helps patients cope with pain, increase range of motion, improve endurance, and develop gross motor skills; occupational therapy focuses more on how clients perform activities and roles that are most important to their daily lives, including assessing and treating physical, psychosocial, behavioral, cognitive, or sensory skills.