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What is Physical Therapy

/Understanding Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy is a unique healing art that uses the natural scientific principles of exercise, heat, cold, sound waves, light, electrical stimulation, and water to prevent, identify, and resolve problems of movement, function, or pain. Understanding how you move along with your specific complaints will enable the physical therapist to focus in on the body system which is the center of your problem. Three systems work together to make movement possible:  skeletal systems, soft tissue system, and neurological system. A problem in any of these systems is likely to affect the others.

Planning a Treatment Program
Your physical therapist analyzes data from your evaluation. The treatment program is then tailored to fit your individual needs. If needed, he then may consult with your doctor or other health professionals.

Goals of Physical Therapy

The goals of physical therapy are to restore or achieve optimal movement and function and to relieve pain. Your personal goals for therapy are also important. One patient’s goals may be to return safely to athletics after injury. Other patients may seek to overcome back pain, learn to walk with an arthritic hip, or simply become independent in self care.


Treatment is based on four principles:

Pain Reduction

  • Heat/Cold Treatments
  • Exercise/Stretching
  • Joint and soft tissue mobilization
  • Electrical Stimulation

Neurological Rehabilitation

  • Tone reduction
  • Specialized Exercises
  • Neuromuscular re-education
  • Electrical Stimulation

Improved Range of Motion (ROM)

  • Joint and soft tissue mobilization
  • Stretching Exercises

Increased Strength

  • Electrical Stimulation
  • Manual Exercises
  • Specialized Equipment

Your physical therapist may combine several treatment methods along with patient education and presentation, to help your goals.