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What is Physical Therapy?

I am grateful for the opportunity to provide an overview of Physical Therapy, a profession that is often misunderstood. Becoming a Physical Therapist takes years of hard work!!

Initially, a Bachelor’s degree was required, then in the 1980’s a Master’s degree and currently the requirements are moving towards a Doctorate of Physical Therapy, taking 6-7 years of college.

Typically, PT s get an undergraduate degree in Biology, Exercise Physiology, Kinesiology or other related fields, then continue on for their Master’s or DPT. Physical Therapy curriculum consists of Kinesiology, Anatomy (with cadaver dissection), Neurology, and Neuroanatomy as well as technique and treatment courses with clinical rotations in acute care, neurology and orthopedics. After graduation most states require yearly continuing education.

Physical Therapists provide both evaluation and treatment of patients. An evaluation consists of taking a detailed patient history, evaluating the range of motion of the injured area, testing the strength, and palpation or feeling the area for joint, muscle, or nerve dysfunction. We then develop a treatment plan.

Functional goals, such as “Jane will be able to put on her coat without shoulder pain” are required. Evaluation reports are sent to the patients provider following the evaluation, with monthly progress reports thereafter, stating our assessment, treatment plan and goals, in addition to the subjective and objective findings. Discharge summaries are sent upon completion of treatment.

Medicare requires us to complete a monthly plan of care that is certified or signed by the referring MD or NP. Patients not improving within a reasonable period of time should be referred back to their referring health care provider.

One of the many reasons I love the field of Physical Therapy is that it is a very diverse profession. Physical Therapists not only treat neck and back pain, headache, Vertigo, TMJ, sports injuries, work injuries, post surgical knees, hips and shoulders, sprains, strains and fractures, but may also treat patients with arthritis, amputations, MS, Cerebral Palsy, stroke, and can be involved in cardiac rehabilitation.

Therapists may specialize according to certain type of treatments, age group (pediatric vs. geriatric) or type of injury.

One of the many benefits of living in Idaho is that it is a “direct access” state. This means that patients no longer need a physician referral for Physical Therapy unless their services are paid for my Medicare or Medicaid. Most insurance companies will pay for Physical Therapy services. If you have any further questions regarding Physical Therapy treatment or practice, please call Mary Boyd of Mountain View Physical Therapy at 290-5575.

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