Physical therapists are health professionals who evaluate physical
problems and injuries, then provide education and treatment to promote health
and physical function. Physical therapists also develop programs that include
exercise and stretching to increase fitness and prevent injury.
A physical therapist provides hands-on treatment to help return
normal movement to joints and muscles. He or she gives instruction about exercises to
help heal and strengthen the body. Treatment may include physical or mechanical
means, such as mobilization and manipulation of joints, exercise, heat, or mild electrical current. Physical therapists
also use devices such as prosthetics (artificial limbs), orthotics (braces and
supports), and equipment to help a person in daily life.
Some physical therapists treat a wide range of ailments. Others
specialize in areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, sports
physical therapy, neurology, cardiovascular, pulmonary, oncology, and women's
health. Physical therapists work for hospitals, nursing homes, home health
agencies, rehabilitation facilities, fitness facilities, and schools.
Physical therapists earn a master's degree or entry-level doctorate
in physical therapy from an accredited physical therapist educational program
that includes a period of clinical work. All states require physical therapists
to pass a licensure examination before they can practice.
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Joan Rigg, PT, OCS - Physical Therapy
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.