What is Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy is a dynamic health care specialty which involves evaluating, diagnosing, and treating individuals with disorders of the musculoskeletal system and a variety of medical disorders.  Physical Therapy is an evidence based practice with its ultimate goal for individuals to regain maximum functional independence.

Physical therapy is provided by Physical Therapists, who are licensed health care professionals. According to the Guide of Physical Therapist Practice, physical therapist: “Diagnose and manage movement dysfunction and enhance physical and functional abilities. “Restore, maintain, and promote not only optimal physical function but optimal wellness and fitness and optimal quality of life as it relates to movement and health. “Prevent the onset, symptoms, and progression of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities that may result from diseases, disorders, conditions, or injuries.1

Physical Therapists take on a leadership role in rehabilitation, prevention of injury, health maintenance, programs that promote health, wellness, and fitness, and in professional and community organizations. Physical therapists will provide a thorough examination taking the patient’s medical history, conducting systems review, and performing tests and measures to identify potential and existing problems. In order to establish a diagnoses, prognoses, and plans of care, physical therapists perform evaluations and review the examination data, to determine if the problems to be addressed are within the scope of physical therapy practice. Based on the information collected, physical therapists will then provide the patient with a variety of interventions in order for individuals to return to their prior level of independence and achieve optimal function.2

1. Inverarity, Laura, What is Physical Therapy?, About.com, 2007
2. American Physical Therapy Association, Guide to Physical Therapist Practice 2nd Edition, Alexandria VA, 2003.

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