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Physical Therapy - When Physical Therapy Can Help

Physical therapy and recovery from injury

Physical therapy can help you recover from an injury and avoid future injury. Your physical therapist can help you reduce pain in the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments), build muscle strength, and improve flexibility, function, and range of motion. He or she can also evaluate how you do an activity and make suggestions for doing the activity in a way that is less likely to result in an injury.

Physical therapy and chronic health conditions

Physical therapy can help you live more easily with chronic or ongoing health conditions such as spinal stenosis, arthritis, and Parkinson's disease. Your physical therapist will work with you to establish your goals. Then he or she will create a program of educational, range-of-motion, strengthening, and endurance activities to meet your needs.

Physical therapy and health conditions requiring a rehabilitation team approach

Some conditions involve several body systems and can lead to significant disability. These conditions—such as stroke, spinal cord injury, and major cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) problems—are usually addressed by a team of health professionals through programs such as cardiac rehab and stroke rehab. The team can include doctors; nurses; physical, occupational, and speech therapists; psychologists; and social workers, among others.

Physical therapists are a critical part of this team. They address the issues of range of motion, strength, endurance, mobility (walking, going up and down stairs, getting in and out of a bed or chair), and safety. The physical therapist may also get you the equipment you need, such as a walker or wheelchair, and make sure you can use the equipment appropriately.

Physical therapy and significant health conditions of childhood

Physical therapists also work with children who have major injuries or health conditions, such as cerebral palsy. They address the usual issues of range of motion, strength, endurance, and mobility. Also, the therapist considers the child's special growth and developmental needs.

Treatment is often provided in the school or in a facility just for children. The way physical therapy and other services are delivered in the schools varies among the states. Talk to your child's doctor, school, or your local health department if you think your child may qualify for evaluation or treatment services.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 07, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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