About Physical Therapy
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What is physical therapy?
It is a specialty of rehabilitation and physical medicine which focuses on correcting and improving function and mobility by examining, diagnosing and treating using mechanical force and movement. It is also known as physiotherapy. Physical therapy is carried out by physiotherapists or physical therapists. Physical therapists also perform research, consultation, administration and education services. In most cases, physical therapy is performed alongside other medical services.Who requires physical therapy?
Physiotherapy is provided to people who have injuries or illnesses that limit their ability to move and perform regular activities. In addition to physical examination, physiotherapists use a person’s history to diagnose and establish a treatment or management plan. Sometimes they also use laboratory and imaging tests such as CT scan, MRI, and X-rays for further diagnosis.Specialty areas
Physical therapy is quite vast and most physical therapists choose a specific area to specialize in. Specializing in a specific clinical area requires additional training. Specialty areas include:
- Cardiovascular and pulmonary physiotherapy: These physical therapists specialize in cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders and injuries or recovery from prior to and after cardiac and pulmonary surgery. The main focus of this specialty is to increase endurance and functional independence. Manual therapy is used to help in clearing lung secretions associated with cystic fibrosis. Heart attacks, pulmonary disorders, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary fibrosis and post coronary bypass surgery can benefit from these specialized physical therapists.
- Geriatric: This specialty covers issues that come up as people go through normal adult life. However, most if its focus is on older adults. Conditions that affect people as they age include osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, incontinence, balance disorders and hip and joint replacement.
- Integumentary: This specialty includes the diagnosis, management, and treatment of conditions of the skin and its related organs. This includes burns and wounds. Integumentary physical therapists utilize wound irrigations, surgical instruments, topical agents and dressings to remove damaged tissue so as to promote the healing of tissue. Other interventions used in this specialty include edema control, exercise, compression garments and splinting.
- Clinical electrophysiology: This specialty includes physical agents, wound management, electrophysiological evaluation and electrotherapy agents.
Benefits of physical therapy include:
- Neurological: This specialty focuses on working with people who have neurological diseases or disorders. These include chronic back pain, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, brain injury, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury among others. Neurological conditions can cause impairments with balance, vision, ambulation, daily activities, muscle strength, movement and loss of function. Neurological physical therapy is also known as neurological rehabilitation or neuro physiotherapy.
- Orthopedic: This specialty focuses on diagnosing, and treating diseases, conditions, and injuries of the musculoskeletal system. It includes rehabilitation after orthopedic surgical procedures. This specialty is commonly found in outpatient settings. Orthopedic physiotherapists are specially trained in treating acute sports injuries, fractures, sprains, arthritis, spinal conditions, back and neck pain, and amputations.
- Pediatric: This specialty helps in detecting pediatric health problems early. Pediatric physiotherapists specialize in diagnosing treating and managing developmental, congenital, skeletal, neuromuscular and acquired diseases or disorders.
- Improved mobility and motion: Physical therapists improve the mobility of a person so that they can function and be able to earn a living and have independence.
- Avoid prescription drugs and surgery: In some cases, surgery and prescription drugs can be avoided especially where physical therapy proves to be equally effective.
- Participation in your recovery: Physical therapists routinely involve their patients in their treatment plans. This ensures that the plan meets the patient’s needs as much as possible.
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