Role of physical therapist evolves, expands

By Dr. Chris Mulvey, PT

physical therapistPhysical therapists examine patients and develop treatment plans to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function and prevent disability. That’s the job description straight from the American Physical Therapy Association.

For individuals who have suffered an injury, either through sports, a vehicle accident or fall, physical therapy is an extremely important step in their recovery journey. However, those conditions often are the only reason that people consult with a physical therapist.

At FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, the range of conditions treated through physical therapy is seemingly endless. Therapists treat patients with chronic conditions like arthritis, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, overuse injuries, muscle weakness and more. They also treat patients who have experienced concussions, undergone amputations or have suffered hearing loss.

Across FYZICAL locations, physical therapists provide a range of services, including:
. Balance therapy: to enhance sensory and motor aspects of balance through strengthening and sensory organization techniques.
. Vestibular therapy: to improve the vestibular system located in the inner ear to eliminate dizziness and improve balance.
. Orthopedic therapy: to treat dysfunctions involving muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments.
. Post-surgical rehabilitation: to treat an orthopedic dysfunction after surgery.
. Neurological rehabilitation: physical therapy for the treatment of various neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, concussion, multiple sclerosis and other conditions.
. Pelvic health therapy: designed specifically for the pelvic area for problems including incontinence and pelvic pain.
. Hand therapy: to restore mobility and function of the hand while reducing pain.
. Work and Auto injuries: physical therapy designed to treat various injuries related to workers compensation and automobile accidents.
. Other specialty treatments like laser therapy, massage therapy, dry needling and aquatics therapy.

Many people underestimate, or perhaps are unaware of, the capabilities of physical therapists. The main goal is to optimize overall health and wellness so patients can love their life.

October is National Physical Therapy Month, an opportunity to raise awareness and appreciation for the field of physical therapy. Below are four surprising facts about physical therapists:

Most physical therapists are doctors
At one time, physical therapists only needed a bachelor’s or master’s degree to be credentialed. Now, they must earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy, or DPT, to call themselves a physical therapist. DPT graduates must complete both didactic and patient-facing clinical training.

The origins of physical therapy date back more than 2,000 years
Hippocrates and Galenus are said to be the first practitioners of physical therapy, with the modern version appearing in the 1800s. It became widely recognized in America as a treatment method for injured military personnel during World War I. In fact, the American Physical Therapy Association will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2021.

Physical therapy is one of America’s fastest-growing occupations
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that employment of physical therapists will grow by 18% over the next decade, a rate that far exceeds the average for all occupations. The forecasted gain is attributed to aging Baby Boomers. In 2019, there were 258,200 physical therapists in America, according to the labor department. Charlotte County actually has the highest ratio of physical therapists to the general population in all of America, with nearly five per 1,000 residents.

Physician referrals are not required
Unlike many specialists, patients do not need a referral from their primary care physician to see a physical therapist. A quick consultation can determine whether a physical therapy location has the staff expertise to treat a specific condition. Note: some insurance policies may require a physician referral to cover costs of a visit.

About the Author
Dr. Chris Mulvey, PT, is president for company clinics at FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, which has 405 locations in 45 states. For more information, please visit

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