Physical therapists (PTs) are experts in how the body moves. They identify and treat movement problems in people of all ages and abilities. They do this by providing hands-on care, education, and by prescribing specific exercises or activities. Most PTs have completed a three-year training program and have a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT). All physical therapists must be licensed by their state in order to practice.
Using the latest research, physical therapist design a treatment plan for each person’s specific needs, challenges, and goals. PTs help patients to better manage pain, and support recovery from injury. They also have the skills to educate and empower patients to prevent injury and manage or prevent chronic disease. These health professionals help you stay independent and do the things you want to do.
Nearly 80% of PTs practice in settings that typically treat older adults. They are trained to:
- Understand the normal changes in aging
- Recognize how recovering from an injury or managing a chronic disease might be a different process for older adults compared to younger adults
- Integrate their knowledge of aging into an effective program designed for an older adult to successfully achieve their goals
For example, let’s say Mrs. Jones has a history of scoliosis along with osteoporosis and heart disease. The PT will take Mrs. Jones’ unique history into account to create a program that meets her personal needs. That way she can safely, and successfully, work to improve her strength and endurance.
What does a physical therapist do?
Physical therapists perform comprehensive evaluations to understand a person’s mobility abilities. This may include assessing your ability to do activities important to you such as:
- Strength and endurance
- Anything else specific to your goals
A PT may also perform a screen of your cognition, vision, medications, mood, and any other health issues or concerns to identify if other health professionals should be involved in your plan of care. PTs will often work with physical therapist assistants (PTA). These individuals are critical members of the team. They are educated and licensed clinicians who provide care under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist.
After an evaluation is complete, the PT will design treatment plans specific to each person’s needs, challenges, and goals.