Physical therapy and rehabilitation services are healthcare specialties which are usually employed together for treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system and physical movement. Their main function is to relieve pain, limit or prevent permanent disabilities of the patient, return injured persons to self sufficiency and productivity. Physical therapy and rehabilitation services involve evaluating, diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system so that patients can resume an active and healthy lifestyle.
Physical therapy is required to help victims of accidents or patients suffering from devastating conditions – to help them regain mobility, acquire flexibility and achieve balance and co-ordination. Conditions treated through physical therapy and rehabilitation services include permanent disabilities caused by accidents, strokes, traumatic brain injuries, birth defects, development delays, muscle weakness, brain injuries, post operative problems, spinal cord injuries, musculoskeletal disorders and neuromuscular disorders.
A physical therapist will use techniques such as strength training, stretching exercises, balance and coordination activities, hot packs and cold compresses, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound therapies to help the patient resume normal function. Physical therapy can be broadly classified into specialized areas such as orthopedic physical therapy, geriatric physical therapy, neurological physical therapy, cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation physical therapy, sports medicine and pediatric physical therapy.
Orthopedic physical therapy deals with disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system and rehabilitation of patients after orthopedic surgery. Geriatric physical therapy covers issues that affect people as they grow older and neurological physical therapy is focused on neurological disorders. Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation physical therapy is ideal for patients with cardiopulmonary disorders or those who have had cardiac or pulmonary surgery, while pediatric physical therapy assists in early detection of health problems in children.