Physical therapy (PT or physiotherapy) is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialty that treats disease, injury or disability by physical and mechanical means (as massage, regulated exercise, water, light, heat, and electricity). Physical therapy is a term that is used a lot in the world of athletes and sports medicine doctors.
Defining Physical Therapy
- Physical therapy, sometimes referred to as PT, is a branch of rehabilitative medicine designed to help people maintain, recover or improve their physical abilities. It involves the treatment of pain, disease or injury.
- Physical therapy is a clinical health science and physical therapists must study a variety of medical science subjects, including anatomy and physiology, in order to become licensed to practice.
- There are a variety of specialty areas that physical therapists can practice, including cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation, geriatric PT, neurological PT, pediatric PT, oncology and palliative care, and of course, sports and orthopedics.
- Here at OSMI, our physical therapists tend to focus on sports and orthopedics.
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
Physical therapists use physical therapeutic measures (in contrast to medical, surgical, or radiologic measures) to evaluate and treat patients. These qualified experts identify and treat conditions that undermine a patient’s ability to move and function optimally. In essence, their job is to maximize quality of life and movement potential.
At our clinic, because we focus on orthopedics and sports-related injuries, physical therapists might be involved in any of the following:
- Assessment of an initial injury
- Treatment of post-operative procedures, fractures, acute sports injuries, arthritis, sprains, strains, back and neck pain, spinal conditions, and more.
- Rehabilitation—or progressive management—to full return of activity
- Education (about movement patterns and prevention of injury)
Some of the treatment modalities physical therapists use at our clinic include:
- Joint mobilization and manipulation
- Therapeutic exercise
- Neuromuscular reeducation
- Hot/cold packs
- Electrical muscle stimulation
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is an integral part of recovery from an injury. In fact, here at OSMI, we see physical therapy as a key part of our treatment strategy. Physical therapy provides a variety of benefits, including:
- Reduced pain
- Improved function
- Increased range of motion
- Education and strategies for maintaining results
- Return to activity
What to Expect From Physical Therapy
Physical therapy isn’t something that happens to you; it’s something that you participate in. Expect to work hard in physical therapy if you want to see results.
Your physical therapist will start by reducing your pain and swelling. Next, you and your physical therapist will work together to improve your strength, flexibility, and endurance.
Physical therapy typically involves exercise. This can include stretching, core strengthening exercises, weight lifting, and movement. Your physical therapy sessions might also include manual therapy, education, heat, cold, water, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and other techniques.
Physical therapy isn’t reserved for weekly sessions in the clinic. Expect to get homework from your physical therapist. If you participate fully in physical therapy and commit to the home exercise routine prescribed by your physical therapist, you’re likely to see better results.