Physical Therapy Services
Physical therapy services focus on preserving, developing and restoring physical function that may have been lost due to injury, disease, aging or congenital abnormality. Based on an initial assessment, Easterseals licensed physical therapists incorporate therapeutic exercise, physical agents such as heat or cold, mechanical and electrotherapeutic modalities, such as traction and electricity; assistive or adaptive devices, such as walkers or bracing; and specialized manual techniques to encourage independence at work, home, school and in the community by:
- Encouraging motor development in children
- Improving functional mobility or the ability to move (including bed mobility/transfers and walking)
- Increasing range of motion (flexibility) and strength
- Promoting tissue (wound) healing
- Decreasing pain and swelling
- Incorporating safety, prevention, and education
- Promoting fitness and health
Services may be provided in an Easterseals outpatient clinic, child development center, or adult day program, as well as at home, at school, and in a variety of other care settings. State and federal laws determine referral requirements and funding opportunities.
Understanding Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is a profession provided by physical therapists (PTs) who diagnose and treat people of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to perform daily activities. They also help prevent conditions associated with loss of mobility through fitness and wellness programs that achieve healthy and active lifestyles.
PTs examine individuals and develop plans using treatment techniques that promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. They provide care in hospitals, clinics, schools, sports facilities, and more.
Physical therapy aims to:
- Improve functional mobility
- Increase range of motion and strength
- Promote tissue healing
- Prevent disability and pain
- Decrease pain and swelling
- Teach patients and families self-care
- Provide prevention and education
Physical therapy is often necessary:
- After birth, to evaluate infants suspected of having disabling conditions and to recommend corrective action
- After operations, to restore function to affected muscles and to keep unaffected muscles strong and useful
- Following a stroke, to restore movement and independent living
- Before an illness, to design programs of preventive health care
- To help people with spinal cord injuries, sports injuries, broken bones and amputations learn to use crutches, braces, wheelchairs and artificial limbs
Physical Therapy is used to:
- Reduce pain and improve motion in arthritic joints
- Ease the pain of sprains and strains and prevent future injuries
- Plan treatment programs, including physical education, for children who have neurological, orthopedic and other disorders
- Test for exercise stress and design exercise programs for individuals who have coronary artery disease or are at risk for coronary artery disease
- Evaluate low-back pain and eliminate functional causes
- Rebuild self-confidence and interest in returning to an independent, active life
The Physical Therapist’s Education
PTs must have a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapy program before taking the national licensure examination. The minimum educational requirement is a master’s degree, yet most educational programs now offer the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree. Licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices.
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 licensed, certified, or registered in most states.
Individualized Treatment Plans
A PT consults and works closely with an individual’s physician, other health care practitioners and the individual in setting treatment objectives that are realistic and consistent with the individual’s needs. This includes reviewing the individual’s medical records, evaluating him or her and identifying the problem(s).
PTs perform tests and evaluations that provide information about joint motion, condition of muscles and reflexes, appearance and stability of walking, need for and use of braces and artificial limbs, the function of the heart and lungs, integrity of sensation and perception and performance of activities required in daily living.
Along with the patient and other health care practitioners, the physical therapist shares the hard work and commitment needed to accomplish each individual’s successes.
Where Do I Begin?
Contact our Therapy Coordinator to find out which steps you need to take to begin the process.