The Science of Healing
Patients and physicians are demanding the talents of physical therapists for conservative management of a wide variety of conditions. In many cases, patients are being sent to physical therapy instead of surgery. Physical therapists help people with orthopedic conditions such as low back pain or osteoporosis; joint and soft tissue injuries such as fractures and dislocations; neurologic conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, or Parkinson's disease; connective tissue injuries such as burns or wounds; cardiopulmonary and circulatory conditions such as congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and workplace injuries including repetitive stress disorders and sports injuries.
The Art of Caring
The individualized, "hands on" approach that characterizes physical therapist care is highly valued by patients. When a physical therapist sees a patient for the first time, he or she examines that individual and develops a plan of care that promotes the ability to move, reduces pain, restores function, and prevents disability. The physical therapist and the patient then work side-by-side to make sure that the goals of the treatment plan are met. Therapeutic exercise and functional training are the cornerstones of physical therapist treatment. Depending on the particular needs of a patient, physical therapists may "manipulate" a joint or massage a muscle to promote proper movement and function. Physical therapists may use other techniques such as electrotherapy, ultrasound (high-frequency waves that produce heat), hot packs, and ice in addition to other treatments when appropriate. Physical therapists will also work with individuals to prevent loss of mobility by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.
The Physical Therapist
Physical therapists (PTs) are health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the elderly, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. All PTs must receive a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure examination that allows them to practice. State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices.
The Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs must complete a 2-year associate's degree and are certified in the State of Kansas. Care provided by a PTA may include teaching patients/clients exercise for mobility, strength and coordination, training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes, or walkers, massage, and the use of physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation.