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What is Physical Therapy?

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Updated September 22, 2007


Physical therapy is a health care specialty involved with evaluating, diagnosing, and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system. The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to restore maximal functional independence to each individual patient. To achieve this goal, physical modalities such as exercise, heat, cold, electricity, and massage are utilized.

Physical therapy is provided by physical therapists, who are licensed health care professionals with a master’s or doctorate degree in physical therapy. Physical therapists evaluate, diagnose, and manage the physical therapy treatment plan, customizing it to each individual’s needs.

Physical therapy is ordered by a physician when it is felt that such a course of treatment would be beneficial. It is offered to a wide variety of patient’s including newborn babies, children, adults, and geriatrics.

Physical therapy is useful in treating many different medical disorders. Sport and orthopedic injuries, neurological and muscular illness, as well as cardiopulmonary diseases are only a few pathologic conditions which physical therapy plays a treatment role in.

Through patient and therapist interaction, physical therapy can help restore movement and function helping patients return to their prior level of independence.

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