A physical therapist provides services to patients to help improve their mobility, restore physical function and help alleviate pain caused by disease, injury, illness or aging. They work with the patient towards restoring and maintaining their overall health and fitness through therapy. Some of the disabling medical conditions they deal with are accident victims and people suffering with arthritis, cerebral palsy, low back pain, head injuries, heart disease and fractures.
They check the medical history of their patient and then examine and test them to measure their balance, muscle performance, strength, and motor function, range of motion, posture, respiration and coordination. A physical therapist uses these results to come up with a successful treatment strategy so they achieve the desired outcome. Their goal is to help improve a patient’s home life and improve how some patients function at work.
A physical therapist develops a treatment plan using therapy and various other techniques, often prescribing assistive technology such as walking devices, standing frames and mobility aids. Therapists teach their patients how to use these devices along with prostheses, crutches and wheelchairs when a patient needs them. They often use exercise for immobilized patients, to help them with endurance, coordination, flexibility, range of motion, balance and strength, while encouraging their patient to use their muscles.
A physical therapist uses electrical stimulation, traction, cold compresses, ultrasound, deep tissue massage and hot packs to reduce swelling and help relieve the patient’s pain. They often work with or consult other professional healthcare givers such as physicians, nurses, occupational therapists and audiologists. Common work activites include: Meeting with physicians and treatment teams to understand overall goals for the patient with regards to physical mobility. Consulting with patients and performing initial assessments as to the patient’s current level of functioning and expectations for the future.
Developing plans for patients that will help increase mobility and easy of movement. Assisting patients to learn to use various tools such as walkers, prosthetics, wheelchairs or leg braces. Using hot and cold temperature treatments, electric stimulation, massage therapy and other treatments to help patients. Completing all required documents and files regarding patient treatment and therapies. Keeping the treatment team and other medical professionals informed of patient progress.