Physical therapy

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Physical therapy or physiotherapy, often abbreviated PT, is the attempted remediation to individuals and populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan. This includes providing services in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by aging, injury, disease or environmental factors. Functional movement is central to what it means to be healthy.

Physical therapy is concerned with identifying and maximising quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation. This encompasses physical, psychological, emotional, and social well being. Physical therapy involves the interaction between physical therapist, patients/clients, other health professionals, families, care givers, and communities in a process where movement potential is assessed and goals are agreed upon, using knowledge and skills unique to physical therapists. [1] Physical therapy is performed by a physical therapist (PT) or physiotherapist (physio), and sometimes services are provided by an assistant (PTA) acting under their direction.[2]

It involves the interaction between a physical therapist (PT) or physiotherapist (physio), patients/clients, other health professionals, families, care givers, and communities in a process where movement potential is assessed and goals are agreed upon, using knowledge and skills unique to physical therapists.[1]

PTs use an individual's history and physical examination to arrive at a diagnosis and establish a management plan and, when necessary, incorporate the results of laboratory and imaging studies. Electrodiagnostic testing (e.g., electromyograms and nerve conduction velocity testing) may also be of assistance.[3] PT management commonly includes prescription of or assistance with specific exercises, manual therapy, education and other interventions.

Physical therapy has many specialties including cardiopulmonary, geriatrics, neurologic, orthopaedic and pediatrics, to name some of the more common areas. PTs practice in many settings, such as outpatient clinics or offices, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities, extended care facilities, private homes, education and research centers, schools, hospices, industrial workplaces or other occupational environments, fitness centers and sports training facilities.[4]

Physical therapists also practice in non-patient care roles such as health policy,[5][6][7][8] health insurance, health care administration and as health care executives.[9][10] Physical therapists are involved in the medical-legal field serving as experts, performing peer review and independent medical examinations.[11]

Education qualifications vary greatly by country. The span of education ranges from some countries having little formal education to others requiring masters or doctoral degrees.

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