What to expect
A physical therapist helps take care of patients in all phases of healing, from initial diagnosis through the restorative and preventive stages of recovery. Physical therapy may be a standalone option, or it may support other treatments.
Some patients are referred to a physical therapist by their doctor, but other seek therapy themselves.
Whichever way a patient come to a physical therapist, they can expect to:
- Undergo a physical exam and evaluation, including a health history and certain testing procedures, including evaluation of posture, movement and flexibility, and of muscle and joint motion and performance
- Receive a clinical diagnosis, prognosis, plan of care and short and long term goals
- Receive physical therapy treatment and intervention based on the therapist's evaluation and diagnosis
- Receive self-management recommendations
Patients often train with a physical therapist in exercises that they can do at home, to help them function more effectively.
Benefits of physical therapy
Depending on the reason for treatment, the benefits of physical therapy include:
- Pain management with reduced need for opioids
- Avoiding surgery
- Improved mobility and movement
- Recovery from injury or trauma
- Recovery from stroke or paralysis
- Fall prevention
- Improved balance
- Management of age-related medical problems
A sports therapist can help an athlete to maximize their performance through strengthening specific parts of the body and using muscles in new ways.
A healthcare provider or physical therapist can advise individuals about the benefits specific to their personal medical history and their need for treatment.