What does a Physical Therapist do?

Check out my Facebook Live on this topic!

Physical Therapy, while a profession that helps so many people get back to activities that they love, can also be confusing at times. When I talk with people around me about my school and future career as a physical therapist, my interactions can generally be broken down into 2 categories:

Person 1: “So what are you going to school for again?”

Me: “I’m going to Physical Therapy School!”

Person 1: “Oh…. so like a personal trainer?”

Me: “No, quite different actually!…physical therapists treat patients who come in for musculoskeletal & neurological problems that cause pain and prevent them from moving well, and help them get back to normal activities! It requires 7 years of school and students are actually graduating with a doctorate as the field is continuing to progress in its scope.”

Person 2: “So you’re going into Physical Therapy right?”

Me: “I am! I have really been enjoying it and I’m looking forward to graduating.”

Person 2: “I am so thankful for you people, I can walk thanks to you guys! Keep up the good work.”


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What does a Physical Therapist Treat?

The Physical Therapy profession can be broken down into several clinical categories of practice including: Acute Care, Orthopedics, Neurology, Home Health, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Geriatrics, Oncology, Pediatrics, Sports, Schools, and Women’s Health. 

Within these categories of practice, physical therapists treat impairments that patients have ultimately allowing them to return to functional activities, occupations, sports, ect.

Both the treatments and impairments will vary depending on the type of condition that is present.

Image result for physical therapy meme what my friends think i do what i actually do

Common Conditions/Impairments that can be treated with PT:

Common Orthopedics conditions:

  • Low Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Headaches
  • Nerve Entrapments
  • Shoulder Pain
  • ACL Rehabilitation
  • Knee Pan
  • Sprained Ankle

Common Neurological conditions:

  • Stroke Rehab
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Parkinson’s
  • Guillian Barre
  • Spinal Cord Injury

Common Inpatient conditions:

  • Illness
  • Surgery
  • Motor Vehicle Accident
  • Recovery from a trauma

Common Cardiopulmonary Conditions:

  • COPD
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Post Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)

Common Sports Conditions:

  • Concussion Management
  • Sprained Ankle
  • ACL Rehabiliation

Common Women’s Health Conditions:

  • Pelvic Pain
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Burns
  • Lymphedema

Where does a Physical Therapist work?

Physical Therapists are found in a variety of clinical settings.  Common locations include:

  • Private Practice (Outpatient PT Clinic)
  • Hospital
  • Skilled Nursing Facility
  • Physician Owned Company
  • Professional Sports Team

What else can Physical Therapists do?

Beyond treating patients,  Physical Therapists can also:

  • Administer wellness/fitness programs
  • Manage a fitness facility
  • Perform ergonomic assessments
  • Work with employers to make work environments better/safer
  • Worksite Health Promotion
  • Perform and publish research
  • Teach at Universities & Physical Therapy Programs

Next Steps:

Check out my Facebook Page to view a Facebook live video addressing this topic!

Get active again! Are you ready to jump start your journey of health & wellness but would like some guidance on how to make sure you achieve results?

Fill out the Wellness Consultation Form (left of screen for laptops, below for mobile devices) to find out what training program is right for you.

Are you having aches and pains that you would like addressed by a physical therapist?

Fill out the form below to get your questions answered!


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