Physical therapy

Physical therapy is treatment to improve mobility (such as walking, going up stairs, or getting in and out of bed), to relieve pain, and to restore physical function and overall fitness. The physical therapist uses exercise, manual therapy, education, and modalities such as heat, cold, and electrical stimulation to work toward these goals.

Depending on the injury, disease, or condition, physical therapy may include work on flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and/or balance. Treatment may focus on preventing problems or treating problems that affect:

  • Your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones (musculoskeletal system).
  • Your nerves and related muscles (neuromuscular system).
  • Your heart and related blood vessels (cardiovascular system).
  • Your lungs and breathing (pulmonary system).
  • Your skin, including wounds and burns.
  • Any combination of two or more of these.

Last Updated: March 6, 2009

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Mary "Ginny" Virginia Keely, PT, MS, OCS, FAAOMPT - Physical Therapy

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