Physical therapists also may use heat, cold and electrical impulses to reduce pain and stimulate muscle function.

Physical therapists also may use heat, cold and electrical impulses to reduce pain and stimulate muscle function.

Illnesses of the musculoskeletal system can result in temporary loss of mobility. But physical therapy can help to prevent those temporary problems from becoming permanent.

The American Physical Therapy Association says physical therapists diagnose and treat individuals of all ages who have conditions that limit their abilities to perform functional activities. Limitations in mobility may result from injury or illness or be present at birth. Many physical therapists develop a plan to reduce pain and restore function through various treatment techniques with the ultimate goal of restoring a patient’s functional independence.

Physical therapists are licensed healthcare professionals who must receive a degree from an accredited physical therapist program before taking national licensure exams that enable them to open a practice or work in a facility. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 30 percent growth in physical therapy careers through 2018, which is a rate better than all other occupations. Unemployment rates for physical therapists are very low, and they are in high demand.

Physical therapists employ various physical modalities to help with certain conditions. For example, a patient may be asked to perform various range-ofmotion exercises to restore function to an injured part of the body. Physical therapists also may use heat, cold and electrical impulses to reduce pain and stimulate muscle function. Physical therapy sessions frequently include some form of massage as well.

While athletes frequently rely on physical therapy as they recover from injuries, others can benefit from physical therapy as well. For example, physical therapy may work in conjunction with other treatments for cardiopulmonary disease. The cardiopulmonary system delivers oxygen to active tissues, which plays an important part in movement. When the cardiopulmonary system is compromised, muscles and other tissues may not function as they should, and certain exercises and mobility therapies may be needed. Physical therapists also aid in improving physical ailments related to neurological diseases, such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Physical therapists may also help treat poor vision, poor balance and paralysis.


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