How can a Physical Therapist Help Me?

Physical therapy is one of the most misunderstood disciplines in all of healthcare. We, as Physical Therapists, are often confused with massage therapists, chiropractors, personal trainers, and occupational therapists.

In the past few years, physical therapists have realized that we have a PR problem. The American Physical Therapy Association defines a physical therapist as “a trained and licensed medical professional with experience in diagnosing physical abnormalities, restoring physical function and mobility, maintaining physical function, and promoting physical activity and proper function.” (…And we wonder why people don’t know what we do…I don’t even understand our governing bodies definition of what we do.)

Physical Therapists, who try to explain it to the masses, tell people that we are THE MOVEMENT SPECIALIST. We watch people move, see what is bothering them, find the cause of the problem and develop a plan to correct the underlying issue as well as the overall difficulty doing things. Sometimes that includes a decrease in pain, increase in strength, improved ability to stretch, improved balance and joint/core stability, improved ability to walk, run, reach or lift, and an understanding on how to prevent further issues.

A visit to a physical therapist can assist you with the following 18 things (for a partial list):

  • Reduce or eliminate pain

  • Avoid Surgery

  • Recover from a Surgery

  • Improve mobility

  • Improve balance and prevent falls

  • Recover from and/or prevent a sports injury

  • Improve sports performance

  • Manage age related issues (such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or general deconditioning)

  • Manage heart and lung disease

  • Manage diabetes and vascular conditions

  • Mange women’s health issues

  • Recovery from a stroke or paralysis

  • Help maintain independence

  • Limit the need for pain medicine

  • Teach you how to avoid injuries via ergonomics

  • Teach compensation strategies for permanent injuries

  • Improve ability to do your regular activities

  • Recommend other professions that may be able to supplement your recovery

Licensed physical therapists can be found in outpatient offices, private practices, hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, home visits, sports and fitness settings, hospices, occupational settings, government agencies, schools, research centers, emergency rooms, and senior communities. Physical therapists may specialize in topics such as pulmonary, hand, neurology, pediatrics, women’s health, men’s health, burns, (and my 2 favorites) orthopedics and sports.

Despite those specialties, physical ther