How much do you really know about physical therapy (PT)? Do you truly know all that your physical therapist is capable of?
Physical therapy as a profession has been around formally since the 1910’s and gained notoriety during World War II and the polio epidemic, but its roots date back to approximately 460 B.C. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the professional association for physical therapy in the United States, has only been in existence since 1921. The relative youth of this professional organization may be why many individuals still do not know what physical therapists (PTs) have to offer.
In our first blog, we discussed what physical therapy was and a small amount about the schooling and area of practice in which PTs work. Physical therapists study the cardiopulmonary system (heart, lungs, arteries, veins), the neurologic system (brain, spinal cord, nerves), the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, joints), human anatomy, kinesiology and movement science (how things move in the body), pharmacology, wellness, teaching and learning, psychosocial skills, and various other niche areas while in school. These courses prepare therapists to treat a wide range of patients.
As physical therapists, we often see patients who have just undergone surgery or recently suffered a stroke; but these are not the only types of patients we see. We treat athletes who have sustained an injury from their sport, soldiers with traumatic brain injuries or who have lost a limb, grandparents who feel unsteady walking or have dizziness from vertigo, pregnant women and new moms who have pelvic pain or problems with incontinence, car accident victims with spinal cord injuries, mothers with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain conditions, and the list goes on. All of these conditions are instances where something has gone wrong with the body, but there is more that a PT can do.
The current vision statement for the APTA is, “Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.” This statement does not exclusively refer to individuals with disabilities or injuries. PTs play a vital role in wellness and injury prevention as well. This vision statement speaks about “optimizing movement” and physical therapists are experts in the movements of the body, which is why we are a key part of the wellness community. Our goal as therapists is not simply to assist in recovery from injuries, but to help prevent them. If you have sustained an injury or you are simply trying to stay in shape to prevent injury, contact your physical therapist and see what he/she can do to help you.
If you have any questions on this topic or any others in which you are interested, feel free to leave any questions, comments, or suggestions. Thank you for reading and stay active.