Physical TherapyPhysical therapy is a method of medical treatment focused on restoring normal physical function.
Physical therapy is used as a physical form of treatment for conditions that include disease, injury or deformity, and is often recommended as an alternative or accompaniment to drugs or surgery. This treatment centers around restoring the physical function of a patient’s body, often in specific areas that have been damaged and thus are unable to carry out certain motions or activities.
What Conditions Can Be Treated With Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, and many physical therapists are specialized in certain treatment techniques. Physical therapy may be beneficial in cases of:
- Back pain, rotator cuff tears and other musculoskeletal system dysfunctions
- Neurological conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis (MS), traumatic brain injuries and Parkinson’s disease
- Cardiopulmonary conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis
- Sports-related injuries
- Urinary incontinence, lymphedema and other conditions relating to women’s health and pelvic floor dysfunction
- Pediatric conditions, including cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and developmental delays
Physical therapy will often be recommended by a primary physician to supplement additional courses of treatment for a variety of medical conditions.
What Does Physical Therapy Involve?
While the exact form of physical therapy treatment will vary based on the condition being treated, a patient can generally expect to:
- Have a physical examination and evaluation
- Answer questions regarding health history
- Undergo physical testing procedures to evaluate posture, flexibility, range of motion (ROM) and muscle and joint performance
- Possibly undergo manual therapies performed by the physical therapist
Depending on the condition, physical therapy may also involve:
- An ultrasound to stimulate blood flow
- Electrical stimulation
- Heat and cold therapies
- Light therapy
How Effective Is Physical Therapy?
For many patients, physical therapy can be highly effective for managing pain, improving mobility, managing age-related medical conditions, recovering from an injury or stroke, improving balance and even avoiding surgery. Oftentimes, treatments will be combined with recommended at-home exercises and therapies in order to optimize healing and performance.
Tampa General Hospital has a team of experienced physical therapists who can aid in the treatment of many conditions. These specialists can evaluate your strength, range of motion, balance and mobility and ask about your current home environment and goals for therapy before developing an individualized treatment plan that fits your needs. Your therapist will work with you on exercises to improve your functional independence, evaluate the need for assistive devices and train you in the use of any needed devices.