What is a Physical Therapist? - Discover Optimal Healthcare

What is a Physical Therapist?

Sports Rehabilitation

What is a Physical Therapist?

A lot of people have a misconception of what physical therapists actually do.  While physical therapists do help individuals to recuperate from injuries, they offer far more than just injury recovery.  Their education encompasses an extensive background into the sciences, including such fields as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, physics, and much more.  The education of a physical therapist encompasses various forms of study intended to allow therapists to have a maximum amount of ways to restore regular mobility and range of motion.

Some physical therapists focus on a particular area of specialization in order to assist those with unique or severe physical ailments.  Others tend to keep themselves broad, allowing themselves to assist the maximum number of clients possible.

Ultimately, physical therapists, regardless of their academic focus, are provided with a myriad of tools at their disposal to help individuals work on injuries, disease, and preventative care.  Some of the many fields of therapy they assist with are:

Acute Injury Care:

Assistance with acute medical issues, such as injuries or diseases that result in limitations in mobility, general health problems, loss of bodily functions, or skin integrity issues.  Many of these patients were hospitalized prior to physical therapy.  Others are children that have developmental disabilities.  Others are individuals of various ages that require therapy due to acute injury or illness.

For those working in acute care, therapy may focus on:

  • Fractures or trauma
  • Balance or fall risk concerns
  • Cardiovascular or pulmonary concerns
  • Pre and post-transplant issues
  • Acute wound care, including (but not limited to):
    • Infections
    • Burns
  • Stroke
  • Spinal injuries
  • Joint replacement therapy
  • Post-surgical care


Therapy in this area includes:

  • Individuals with medical issues that inhibit their mobility or ability to engage in regular activities independently.
  • Healthy adults who want to maintain their mobility and health, allowing them to continue their recreational activities while they age.
  • Elderly individuals who require rehabilitation after a surgical procedure.
  • Elderly in hospice care who want to remain as independent as they possibly can.
  • Fragile individuals who require short-term care.
  • Critically injured or ill who require acute care.

Home Health:

This form of care provides therapeutical services in the individual’s residence, a hospital ICU, a nursing facility, a residential care facility, hospice, group care home, or other locations throughout the community.

For physical therapists working in home health, commonly seen conditions are:

  • Fall risks
  • Chronic pains
  • Dementia
  • General wounds and injuries
  • Joint replacements
  • Bone fractures
  • Incontinence issues
  • Cardiac arrest patients


Pediatric physical therapists work with children ranging from birth up to 21 years of age.  These individuals may have various developmental disabilities and it is the therapist’s goal to improve quality of life for these individuals through things such as restoring or developing mobility.

Some of the common conditions treated by pediatrics are:

  • Autism
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Down syndrome
  • Spina bifida
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental delays

There are a variety of other fields that physical therapists work in as well, such as sports, orthopedics, oncology, women’s health, neurology, aquatics, pulmonary and cardiovascular, and more.  So, if you are wondering if a physical can therapist would be able to help you or someone you know, reach out to one today to see what they have to offer.