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According to the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association), Licensed Physical Therapists train as medical professionals with experience in diagnosing physical abnormalities, restoring physical function and mobility lost from injuries, maintaining physical function, and promoting proper physical activity.
Patients can find licensed physical therapists in a range of healthcare settings including hospitals, outpatient offices, nursing homes, private practices, rehab centers, home health, government agencies, sports and fitness settings, schools, hospices, occupational settings, and research centers.
Visiting a Physical Therapist
Physical Therapists help take care of patients in every phase of the healing process, from the initial diagnosis all the way through the restorative and preventive stages of recovery. Patients may benefit from Physical therapy as a standalone option, or it may support additional treatments.
Some patients see physical therapists after their doctor refers them, but patients may seek therapy themselves.
However a patient arrives to a physical therapist, they can always expect to:
- Undergo physical exam and evaluation, including a health history check and certain tests, including posture evaluation, movement and flexibility tests, and muscle and joint motion performance
- Receive a clinical diagnosis, prognosis, care plan and short and long term goals
- Receive physical therapy and/or other intervention based on the therapist’s diagnosis of the condition
Patients will often train with physical therapists in special exercises that they can perform at home, to help them function even more effectively.
Benefits of physical therapy
Although it depends on the patient’s reason for treatment, the benefits of physical therapy often include:
- The ability to manage pain, reducing the need for opioids
- Sometimes avoiding surgery entirely
- Improved mobility
- Increased recovery trauma
- Increased recovery from stroke or paralysis
- Reduced risk of falling due to increased muscle strength
- Improved equilibrium
A sports therapist can also help train an athlete to maximize their physical performance through strengthening specific parts of their body and using certain muscles in brand new ways. Following strict physical therapist guidelines can help athletes avoid straining their muscles and developing overuse injuries in the arms or other locations. Healthcare providers and physical therapists may advise patients on the benefits specific to their personal medical history and their need for treatment.