National Physical Therapy Month is celebrated every October to recognize the efforts and impact of physical therapists (PT) and PT assistants in restoring, maintaining, or improving mobility for patients.
Physical therapists are licensed medical professionals who can diagnose physical abnormalities and create a plan of action to restore, maintain, or improve physical function. Like other medical professionals, physical therapists can specialize in a wide variety of areas and, therefore, can treat a variety of medical conditions.
This list is composed of conditions that may benefit from physical therapy, along with the treatment program that may be most beneficial. Your physical therapist will recommend the most appropriate treatment for you.
- Hand therapy conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain or injuries involving the muscles, bones, ligaments, fascias, and tendons
- Orthopedic physical therapy may include joint mobilizations, manual therapy, strength and/or mobility training
- Neurological conditions, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injuries
- Neurological treatment aims to increase limb responsiveness, treat paralysis, and reverse increase the muscle’s strength by reducing muscle atrophy
- Pediatric conditions, such as cerebral palsy or developmental delays
- Pediatric physical therapy helps infants, children, and adolescents by diagnosing, treating, and managing conditions
- Cardiopulmonary conditions, such as cystic fibrosis (CS)
- Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation can increase physical endurance and stamina for people with some cardiopulmonary conditions
- Sports-related injuries
- Women’s health and pelvic floor dysfunction
- Pelvic floor rehabilitation treats urinary or fecal incontinence and pelvic pain that is the result of surgery, injuries, or medical conditions
- Wound care, burns, and diabetic ulcers
- Wound care therapy helps ensure that a wound is healing properly. A treatment program may include manual therapies, electric stimulation, compression therapy, and wound care to make sure the wound is receiving adequate oxygen.
Other therapies include vestibular therapy, which treats balance problems that result from inner ear conditions, and geriatric physical therapy, which aims to restore mobility and reduce pain in older patients. This can be due to arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, hip replacement, or other conditions.
Physical therapy treatments may also include:
- Ultrasound to promote blood flow by heating tendons, muscles, or tissues
- Phonophoresis uses ultrasound to deliver medications such as topical steroids, which reduces inflammation
- Heat, moist heat, and cold therapy
- Light therapy
The benefits of physical therapy vary patient to patient, depending on medical history and the condition being treated, but they can include pain management, improved mobility, recovery from injury/trauma or stroke/paralysis, and fall prevention. Some programs may help a patient avoid surgery altogether.
For patients recovering from surgery, we highlight the importance of physical therapy in our blog, “The Importance of Physical Therapy After Surgery”.
Physical therapy is also important for patients with chronic pain. Amidst the nation’s opioid epidemic, physical therapists are strongly advocating for awareness of physical therapy programs as an effective alternative to opioids for long-term treatment of chronic pain.
Physical therapists work every day to improve the health, mobility, and quality of life for their patients. If you are currently receiving physical therapy treatment, remember to thank your PT in honor of National Physical Therapy Month!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not intended to diagnose health problems or take the place of professional medical advice or care you receive from a health care provider. Always consult your health care provider about medications, symptoms, and health problems.