What is Physical Therapy Rehabilitation?

Physical therapy rehabilitation is a medical treatment that restores, improves, and maintains movement and function of areas of the body that have been injured or impaired. Disease and injury can wreak havoc on the body, limiting mobility and causing pain in joints and limbs. Physical therapy is prescribed by doctors to aid patients recovering from some such condition so that they can retain the quality of life they were accustomed to before an accident or illness. Many people of all ages engage in physical therapy rehabilitation, including children, adults, and the elderly. There are different types of physical therapy rehabilitation, but the end goal is always an improvement to some area of body movement.

Physical therapy rehabilitation is administered by a physical therapist or a physical therapy assistant. A physical therapist assesses patients, then creates a treatment plan that will allow the patient to perform exercises with increasing levels of motion and mobility. Physical therapists also use heat, cold, irrigation, and massage to directly manipulate muscles, joints, and areas of the body that are causing pain and lack range of movement. A patient may work with a physical therapist, a physical therapist assistant, or perform exercises at home that are assigned by a physical therapist.


Physical therapy rehabilitation often takes place in a physical therapy rehabilitation center. These centers look very much like gyms and have similar exercise equipment such as stationary exercise bikes, free weights, weight machines, elliptical machines, rowing machines, treadmills, and stair climbers. Rehabilitation centers may also have whirlpool baths and private treatment rooms where the therapist makes assessments on range of motion improvements and stretches out tight muscles and joints. Physical therapy may also be administered in homes, hospitals, outpatient treatment centers, extended care facilities, schools, and fitness centers.

Physical therapy rehabilitation treatment plans are customized to the individual. Sometimes the goal will be a return of all function to a joint, such as when an ankle is fractured in an accident. In these cases, exercises are enlisted that will allow the ankle to heal while ensuring the ankle will perform at the same level it did prior to injury. Other times, treatment plans will focus on specific tasks. For instance, and elderly individual recovering from a stroke may not gain back full functionality on an arm that was affected by the stroke, but they may be able to recover enough to use the arm for simple tasks such as putting on a shirt.



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