therapists improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical
disabilities of patients suffering from injuries
or disease. Their patients include accident victims
and disabled individuals with conditions such
as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, nerve injuries,
burns, amputations, head injuries, fractures,
low back pain, arthritis, and heart disease.
Therapists evaluate patients' medical histories, test and
measure their strength, range of motion, and ability
to perform function, and then develop treatment
plans accordingly. These plans, which may be based
on physician's orders, describe the treatment
strategy, its purpose, and the anticipated outcome.
After devising a treatment strategy, physical
therapists often delegate specific procedures
to physical therapy assistants and aides.
Treatment often includes exercise for patients who have
been immobilized and lack flexibility. Using a
technique known as passive exercise, therapists
increase the patient's flexibility by stretching
and manipulating stiff joints and unused muscles.
Later in the treatment, they encourage patients
to use their own muscles to further increase flexibility
and range of motion before finally advancing to
weights and other exercises that improve strength,
balance, coordination, and endurance. Know a great PT? Consider nominating them for the WPTA PT of the Year Award