Physical Therapy is a form of treatment utilizing physiologic principles to manage injury or illness. At the core of physical therapy is exercise, though the nature of the exercise varies according to the diagnosis, patient capabilities, and goals of therapy. In addition to guiding you through an exercise program, the physical therapist may employ the use of massage, stretching, traction, hot and cold application, and other "modalities" particular to the field of physical therapy, such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation.
The types of patients who would benefit from such a program include people who are recovering from an orthopaedic injury (e.g. ligament sprain, fracture, tendonitis), neurologic injury (e.g. stroke, spinal cord trauma) and patients with chronic, painful ailments, such as arthritis and back or neck pain. The proper rehabilitation program can help to reduce pain, improve strength and motion to the affected areas of the body, and facilitates the return to full activity including work and athletics.
As mentioned, exercise plays a major role in most physical therapy programs. Exercise can help to directly reduce pain as well as the more obvious benefit of restoring or improving strength to a specific part of the body. A specific exercise program may also help to improve cardiovascular conditioning and psychological well-being. The physical therapist will not only guide you through a program that is appropriate for you, but will also outline a program of exercises that can be performed at home.
Any decisions regarding whether a patient may benefit from physical therapy should be made in conjunction with a physician. The physician and physical therapist will maintain correspondence so that there is a coordination of care.
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