What is a physical therapist?
Physical therapy is the health profession that focuses on the evaluation, management, and prevention of disorders of human motion.
Physical therapists, or PTs, are important members of the rehabilitation team. They evaluate and provide treatment for persons with health problems and disabilities resulting from injury, disease, overuse of muscles or tendons, pain, or loss of a body part.
Physical therapy treatments and services focus on restoring the individual's mobility (movement) and function, and preventing of further disability.
Physical therapists may provide treatment and education regarding any of the following:
Balance and gait retraining
Heat and cold therapy and massage
Activities of daily living (ADLs)
Casting and splinting
Wheelchair, walkers, canes, and crutches
Use of orthotics (braces, splints) and prosthetics (artificial limbs)
Physical therapists may practice in a variety of settings, including the following:
Inpatient rehabilitation centers
Outpatient rehabilitation centers
Community and home health settings
Industrial health centers
Physical therapists have an undergraduate degree in physical therapy, and either a master's degree or doctorate. In order to practice, all graduates must be licensed by their state by passing a national certification examination. They are accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association.