What is Physical Therapy? Meaning, Preparation, Process, Cost, Etc.

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy (also called Physiotherapy) is a specialty program designed to evaluate, assess, and treat individuals who may have limitations in functional mobility. You don’t need a doctor's recommendation to get physical therapy however, your doctor might recommend getting this treatment after an injury or surgery. The goal of physical therapy (PT) is to help individuals recover safely, and faster, and can prevent future injuries.

Physical Therapy Meaning

Merriam Webster defines Physical Therapy as:

“Therapy for the preservation, enhancement, or restoration of movement and physical function impaired or threatened by disease, injury, or disability that utilizes therapeutic exercise, physical modalities (such as massage and electrotherapy), assistive devices, and patient education and training.”

What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Physical therapists are often referred to as “experts in movement.” This is because, to become a physical therapist, one must obtain a bachelor’s degree and a graduate doctoral degree (DPT). They also have to obtain a state license to be able to practice legally in that state. They undergo extensive schooling, testing, and lab work to become experts in their field, and even when they do they are required to complete continuing education courses.

Physical therapists usually become specialized therapists in their field so they can help clients with specific needs, and goals and help them get back to their normal daily lives and activities.

PTs work in various settings from sports - semi-pro, professional teams, school teams - and fitness (working with athletic trainers and team physicians), to healthcare (hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient or inpatient clinics - Orthopedics, Neurology, Pediatrics, Sports, Pelvic Health, Geriatrics, Hand Therapy - and education (elementary schools, middle school, high school, college), research centers, corporate setting (factory or manufacture) and government agencies.

Physical therapists are professionals licensed by the state to provide physiotherapy to individuals. They are trained to assess the patient's condition and create a fitness and wellness program to help encourage a healthy, active lifestyle, improve movement, and gain their independence back.

Physical Therapists are trained to use a variety of treatment styles and techniques to help the patient heal better and faster. They start by assessing your limitations, abilities, and conditions followed by an evaluation to create a personalized plan tailored to the specific patient. Treatments can be hands-on at a facility or virtual. They will also teach exercises that can be done outside of PT to help with the recovery process, movement, and function.

How To Prepare for Physical Therapy

It can be nerve-racking going into your first physical therapy session. So many questions about what to ask to prepare for PT flying around in your head,

  • What should I expect?