Physical therapy (or physiotherapy), often abbreviated PT, is a health care profession primarily concerned with the remediation of impairments and disabilities and the promotion of mobility,functional ability, quality of life and movement potential through examination, evaluation, diagnosis and physical intervention carried out by Physical Therapists (known as Physiotherapists in some countries) and Physical Therapist Assistants (known as Physical Rehabilitation Therapists in some countries).
Physiotherapy is a clinical health science and profession that aims to rehabilitate and improve people with movement disorders by using evidence-based, natural methods such as exercise, motivation, adapted equipment, education and advocacy. Physiotherapists study medical science subjects such as anatomy, neuroscience and physiology to develop skills and attitudes necessary for health education and prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients with physical disorders and disabilities.
Physical therapy involves the interaction between physical therapist, patients/clients, other health care professionals, families, care givers, and communities in a process where movement potential is assessed and diagnosed and goals are agreed upon. Physical therapy is performed by a physical therapist (PT). PTs are healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions, illnesses, or injuries that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities as well as they would like in their daily live.
PTs use an individual’s history and physical examination to arrive at a diagnosis and establish a management plan and, when necessary, incorporate the results of laboratory and imaging studies. Electrodiagnostic testing (e.g., electromyograms and nerve conduction velocity testing) may also be of assistance. PT management commonly includes prescription of or assistance with specific exercises, manual therapy, education, manipulation and other interventions. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles, providing services to individuals and populations to develop maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan. This includes providing services in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by aging, injury, disease or environmental factors. Functional movement is central to what it means to be healthy.
Physical therapy has many specialties including sports, wound care, EMG, cardiopulmonary, geriatrics, neurologic, orthopaedic and pediatrics. PTs practice in many settings, such as outpatient clinics or offices, health and wellness clinics, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities, extended care facilities, private homes, education and research centers, schools, hospices, industrial and this workplaces or other occupational environments, fitness centers and sports training facilities.