National Physical Therapy Month
5 Unknown Facts on Physical Therapy
Physical therapists are highly educated, licensed health care professionals. According to the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association), their education includes “an extensive background in the sciences, focusing on physics, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and kinesiology. With this background, physical therapists are able to restore and maximize mobility.”
The American Physical Therapy Association says, “Physical therapists are movement experts who optimize the quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.”
Physical therapists work in a variety of settings. These can include: outpatient clinics, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, schools, and home-health settings. Physical therapists can choose to focus on a particular area of clinic practice. These areas include: acute care, cardiovascular and pulmonary, geriatrics, neurology, oncology, orthopedics, pediatrics, sports, and women’s and men’s health.
Here are some common unknown facts about Physical Therapy:
Fact #1. You do not have to have a referral from your Primary care physician to see a Physical Therapist. 70% of people think a referral or prescription is required for evaluation by a physical therapist. However, most states allow for Direct Access and some form of treatment or intervention without a physician referral or prescription.
Washington State allows the evaluation and treatment by a physical therapist without a physician referral. You should always check with your insurance company however as some insurance companies will only cover physical therapy services if there is a physician’s referral on file.
Physical therapists are trained in medical screening and they have the knowledge and the tools to know when your symptoms may warrant physical therapy treatment and when you should seek out your physician or general practitioner.
Fact #2. Know Pain, Know Gain vs. No Pain, No Gain. Physical therapists seek to minimize pain and discomfort—even if it is chronic or long-term. They work within your pain threshold to help you heal, and restore movement and function.
Pain is your body’s way of telling you to pay attention to what is happening. A physical therapist can help educate you on different types of body pains and what they might mean. They can help you learn to listen to your body and work with it instead of against it.
Fact #3. Physical therapists do a lot more than treating you after an injury or surgery. As experts in the way the body moves, they are skilled at evaluating and diagnosing potential problems preventatively before they lead to more serious injuries or disabling conditions. Physical therapists help people of all ages and abilities reduce pain, improve or restore mobility, and stay active and fit throughout life. Additionally, physical therapists can help you integrate seamlessly back into your preferred post-rehabilitation sports, activities, and lifestyles.
A physical therapist can help you optimize your movement strategies to help you run faster or play sports more efficiently. They might evaluate your work station set up to decrease your risk of a work injury. They may help prepare your body for childbirth. They can prescribe an exercise program for you to lower your risk of a heart attack. They may evaluate your home environment to help decrease hazards that may put you at risk for falling. Most importantly, they can help you with postural awareness to reduce chronic neck and back pain. A simple preventative screening once or twice a year can minimize your risk of injury in the long run. Although most insurance companies may not pay for this Preventative Screening, it is highly recommended that you get your entire musculoskeletal system assessed preventatively before dysfunctions start to brew and compensations start taking place.
Fact #4. Physical therapists are licensed health care professionals with the majority obtaining doctorate degrees from an accredited Physical Therapy program. Physical Therapists are the only licensed health care professionals who can perform physical therapy treatments. While other health care professionals may perform some treatments that seem similar (massage therapists, personal trainers, chiropractors, etc.), physical therapy can only be provided only by licensed physical therapists.
Graduating physical therapists today have a doctorate in physical therapy. They have to go to school for 6 to 7 years after high school. Many go on to earn specialist certification in specific practice areas or participate in residencies and fellowships.
Fact #5. Most insurance policies cover some form of physical therapy. It is helpful to check with your insurance company to find out what specific physical therapy benefits you have. Beyond insurance coverage, physical therapy has shown to reduce costs by helping people avoid unnecessary imaging scans, surgery, injections, and prescription drugs. Physical therapy can also lower healthcare costs by helping patients avoid falls and or preventatively address conditions or musculoskeletal dysfunctions before they become chronic. It may be the best money you spend out of pocket if it keeps you healthy and healthier in the long run.
Kintsugi Physical Therapy & Wellness can help you preventatively screen for any dysfunctions and compensation patterns taking place.