PHYSICAL THERAPISTS ARE TRAINED TO TREAT A WIDE RANGE OF ILLNESSES & INJURIES
When most people hear the words “physical therapy,” they immediately think of rehabilitation for someone with a sports injury. And while that’s accurate, physical therapistsworkwithmany typesofpatients,presentingwithawidevarietyof injuries, conditions and diseases. In fact, the profession of physical therapy can be divided into many distinct practice areas. According to the American Board of Physical TherapySpecialties (ABPTS), therearenineareas inwhichphysical therapistscan receiveadvancedcertification.A fewof thesespecialtyareas,whichcovermostof the injuries, diseases and age populations treated by physical therapists, include: Cardiovascularandpulmonary: forcardiovascularandpulmonaryconditions,such as heart attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis. The goal of this sub-specialty is to increase physical endurance and improve functional independence. Neurology: for neurological conditions and impairments, including Alzheimer’s disease, brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuryandstroke.Treatmentplansaredesigned tohelppatients independently participate in activities of daily living for as long as possible. PTs teach patients to adapt to visual, balance, mobility and muscle loss impairments. Orthopedics: for musculoskeletal injuries involving bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. A rehab program may include joint mobilization, manual therapy, strength training and other modalities. Pediatrics: for infants, toddlers, children and adolescents with diseases and injuries ranging fromdevelopmentaldelays,geneticdisordersand limbdeficiencies to muscle diseases and orthopedic disabilities. PTs use therapeutic exercise, modalities and treatments to relieve pain, regain strength and range of motion, and to improve balance, flexibility and gross and fine motor skills. Women’s health: for conditions including pelvic floor dysfunction, postpartum care, lymphatic swelling and urinary incontinence. A PT program might include
externaland internalsoft tissuemobilization,strengtheningexercises,biofeedback and electrical stimulation. Theotherspecialtyareas recognizedbyABPTSaregeriatrics,oncology,sportsand clinical electrophysiology. PTs can gain expertise in these areas without pursuing advanced certification, either by gaining years of experience with specific patient populations or by fulfilling continuing education requirements. When looking for the right physical therapist to treat a particular ailment or disease, patients should feel comfortable asking about the therapist’s training, education and background. Understandingwhatexpertisephysical therapistshavehelpsunderstand the rehab approach and how it impacts an injury or illness. Patients who start a dialogue and keep an open line of communication with their physical therapists will get the most out of their rehabilitation sessions.
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