Physical Therapy is a fascinating field since the dawn of its conception in the 1920s. Since that time the field of Physical Therapy has grown to an entity that has been pushing the envelope to what therapist can and cannot do.
Physical Therapist can be certified and/or specialized in different methods and techniques. Many do not know therapist can treat patients with vertigo, pelvic floor dysfunctions, cardiovascular and pulmonary dysfunctions, and neurological disorders to name a few.
With the addition of working with variety of patient populations, a Physical Therapist is present in hospitals, outpatient clinics, private practices, home health agencies, schools, nursing homes, and even the Emergency Room.
Many patients are surprised when they find out that Physical Therapist can hold a Doctorate degree. In the field of Physical Therapy they have been pushing forward for all Physical Therapist to obtain a Doctorate in Physical Therapy to advance our profession and scope of practice. A few years ago being a Physical Therapist you only needed a bachelor’s degree to practice. However, our scope of practice and knowledge of medicine and human movement has grown that most Physical Therapy graduate programs offer an entry-level 3-year Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Physical therapists have to pass a medical board exam in order to obtain their state license to treat patients.
In many states, you can be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist without seeing your Primary Care Physician. These states have Direct Access with more states following suit. According to the APTA, currently 18 states have unrestricted patient access, 26+ states have patient access with provision, and 6 states have limited patient access. Check the APTA website to see what your state is categorized under, as of now New Jersey and Pennsylvania have patient access with provision.
Although at Physical Therapy we are here to help strengthen your muscular imbalance or stabilize joints through exercises, working through pain does not always hold true. There are exceptions to this statement, such as range of motion for a patient post op total knee replacement or frozen shoulder. Most of the time, treatments and exercises should be to patient’s tolerance and pain-free.
The most important aspect of Physical Therapy is that you as the patient are compliant with your plan of care and performing your prescribe exercises. There is a reason that your physical therapist puts in the time and effort in designing a home program specifically for you. Being compliant with your HEP will help your recovery and return you to your prior level of function.