So, What Does a Physical Therapist Really Do?
As we celebrate Physical Therapy Month, it is a chance to reflect on all the fantastic people that we get to work with daily. From young to old, we are afforded the opportunity to really get to connect with people and help them achieve all sorts of goals. It is also an opportunity to educate people on what it is that physical therapists really do.
When someone asks what you do, and you tell them you are a physical therapist, you get all sorts of reactions. People will tell you that PT stands for pain and torture. Others will say something along the lines of, “You just put people on exercise machines.” Some even ask you to look at their neck or back right on the spot. The best reactions are when someone tells you how much their physical therapist helped them get their life back. The worst reactions are the ones that ask, “So what does a physical therapist really do?”
Despite being a profession that has been around for nearly 100 years, often, people don’t know what it is that physical therapists do or who they treat. Some of the things we treat are obvious. Back pain? Yes. Recovery from knee/back/hip/shoulder surgery? Of course. Issues after an ankle sprain? We do that too.
There are also many things that we can help people with that most people don’t think of. Jaw pain? Yes. Dizziness? Resounding yes. Neurologic conditions like Parkinson’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis? Very much so. Pelvic health issues such as difficulty with urination or pelvic pain? Some specialized physical therapists do that, as well. Headache or vision issues after a concussion? Definitely. Young children having difficulty hitting their motor milestones? There are great pediatric therapists for that! So, when someone asks me, “What does a PT really do?” I tell them, “We kind of do it all.”
One of the biggest reasons that I was drawn to physical therapy was I wanted to help people from across the entire lifespan. I have been lucky enough to work with a person as young as 11 months and as old as 94, and I did that on the same day! Regardless of age, there’s a huge variety of issues and ailments that physical therapists can help to treat. Whether you are 1 or 101, if you have pain, weakness, stiffness, balance, dizziness, or any physical limitation to the things that you have to do, or the things that you WANT to do, physical therapy could benefit you.