A physical therapist (PT) is a specialist who helps patients with recuperation, rehabilitation, mobility, range of motion and ergonomics. The majority of physical therapy practitioners are in the rehabilitation area of medicine. This sub-specialty concentrates on helping a patient recover and regain function of affected body parts after a surgery, accident, injury or disease.
Of all the professionals who work in the back pain arena, PTs enjoy some of the highest patient satisfaction ratings. They are also some of the most trusted, since they build personal relationships with individual patients and work hands-on with their clients daily. This is a real improvement over the cold and impersonal approaches utilized by so many clinical physicians.
Physical Therapist Education and Training
In years past, and still in many parts of the world, therapists earned a Master’s Degree before taking a licensing exam to practice. There has been a growing percentage of practitioners that now earn a DPT or Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. There is added incentive for therapists to earn this degree, as accepted standards of education and licensing requirements are steadily increasing.
Many therapists that actually work with patients are only PTAs, also called physical therapy assistants. These caregivers must work under the supervision of a licensed doctor or therapist. However, PTAs can be just as skilled as the most experienced doctors when it comes to getting excellent results in treatment.
Physical Therapist Specialties
There are therapists who concentrate on certain types of pain or areas of the body. Many physical therapy practitioners are involved in sports medicine. Others are involved in rehabilitation of the hand. Some therapists specialize in the back and spine. Another common specialty of therapists is assistive device therapy. This specialty uses devices and mobility aids to assist disabled patients.
For best therapy outcomes, it is advised to seek out a specialist in the type of condition that is causing you problems. After all, more experience generally begets better treatment results.
Some of the primary goals of physical therapy are to make the patient stronger, as well as more flexible, mobile and functional. The therapist will do this by creating a program of stretching, exercise and breathing. The therapist will also concentrate on teaching the patient how to move properly and efficiently. Encouraged and prohibited movements will be explained in great detail.
Many physical therapists will also integrate nutrition and cardiovascular exercise into their treatments in order to increase the general health of the patient. This all-over approach to care is an improvement over the compartmentalized techniques used by so many other types of doctors.
While not truly holistic, PT is better than ignoring the total person in favor of simply treating disease or injury exclusively.
Physical Therapy Practitioners
I generally really like physical therapists and appreciate their contributions to the healthcare sector. I have very little bad to say about this profession as a whole. The main ideals of treatment are generally natural and constructive.
Physical therapy has been a huge blessing for many patients who are in the process of recovering from all sorts of painful conditions. It is also so important for recently disabled people to relearn how to accomplish the basic tasks of life anew.
Remember, physical therapy is not generally a cure for back pain. It is a treatment that can definitely help in a combined care program. Do not count on it being a magic bullet to banish pain. However, I do recommend it as a great treatment to help patients regain lost mobility and functionality.
Please enjoy my Q&A with noted therapist Mitchell Yass, regarding his book on treating back pain with weight training.