Physical therapy involves trained chartered physiotherapist professionals evaluating and treating abnormal physical function related to a condition, disease, disability or injury.

You will find licensed physical therapists in a variety of healthcare settings, which include private practices, rehab centres, nursing homes, hospitals, outpatient offices, occupational settings, hospices, sports and fitness settings, home health, research centres, government agencies and occupational settings.

What Can You Expect?

Physical therapy is used to help people of different ages with all kinds of conditions. Physical therapists take care of patients in all healing phases, ranging from initial diagnosis through the preventive and restorative stages of recovery. Physical therapy can be either a standalone option or a complement to other treatments.

What Conditions Can Benefit From Physical Therapy?

The conditions that may benefit from physical therapy include:

  • Cardiopulmonary conditions, including cystic fibrosis (CF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as post-myocardial infraction (MI)
  • Musculoskeletal dysfunction including rotator cuff tears, back pain, as well as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
  • Hand therapy for conditions such as trigger finger and carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Sports-related injuries, such as tennis elbow and concussion
  • Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, vestibular dysfunction, multiple sclerosis, and stroke.
  • Women’s health and pelvic floor dysfunction, such as lymphedema and urinary incontinence
  • Other cases likely to benefit include diabetic ulcers, wound care, and burns.

What Are the Benefits of Physical Therapy?

– Improved balance

– Recovery from paralysis or stroke

– Improved movement and mobility

– Avoiding surgery

– Management of medical problems related to age

– A sports therapist can even help an athlete maximise his/her performance by strengthening specific areas of the body as well as using muscles in different ways.

What Are the Different Types of Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is used to help patients regain strength or movement after an illness or injury. A variety of therapies can be used for treating a range of conditions, as with any medical practice.

Orthopaedic Physical Therapy

It is used for treating musculoskeletal injuries, which involve the bones, muscles, tendons, fascia and ligaments. It is used for medical conditions such as sprains, fractures, bursitis, tendonitis, chronic medical problems, as well as recovery or rehabilitation from orthopaedic surgery. Patients may undergo treatment with manual therapy, joint mobilisations, mobility training, strength training, as well as other modalities.

Geriatric Physical Therapy

It is used to help older patients that develop problems that affect their physical function and mobility, such as osteoporosis, Arthritis, incontinence, balance disorders, joint and hip replacement and Alzheimer’s disease. Geriatric physical therapy is aimed at restoring mobility, reducing pain and increasing physical fitness levels.

Neurological Physical Therapy

It is used to help those suffering from neurological conditions and disorders such as brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. Treatment is aimed at increasing limb responsiveness, treating paralysis and increasing the strength of muscles through the reduction of muscle atrophy.

Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation

It can benefit those affected by some surgical procedures and cardiopulmonary conditions. Treatment helps increase stamina and physical endurance.

Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation

It is used for treating urinary urgency, faecal or urinary incontinence, as well as pelvic pain in both men and women as a result of surgery or illness or due to certain conditions.

Besides physical manipulation, physical therapy may also involve:

  • Ultrasound for promoting blood flow and healing by heating the tissues, muscles, and tendons
  • Phonophoresis, which involves using ultrasound for delivering certain medications such as topical steroids that can help reduce inflammation
  • Electrical stimulation (E-sim), which uses topical electrodes on the skin for increasing functional capabilities and reducing pain.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is one type of E-sim. Anti-inflammatory medication is sometimes used with certain E-sim modalities and referred to as iontophoresis.
  • Cold, heat, and moist heat therapy
  • Light therapy whereby special lasers and lights are used for treating certain medical conditions.

Where and How Can You Find a Good Physical Therapist?

Finding a good physical therapist may involve several factors, which include insurance acceptance, geographical location, reason for treatment, and speciality.

Insurance companies usually have lists of physical therapy facilities that participate in specific health plans. Other healthcare providers may have a list of recommended therapists in their area.