by Robert S. Dinsmoor
A professional licensed to assist in the examination, testing, and treatment of people with conditions that interfere with physical activity. Although licensing requirements vary from state to state, most physical therapists have a bachelor of science degree in physical therapy or have completed a 12-month certificate course in addition to obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
The key to good physical therapy is getting a comprehensive initial evaluation from the physical therapist. The physical therapist should evaluate how much your physical condition is affecting your body and what limitations it is placing on your activities. Based on this evaluation, and taking your needs and goals into consideration, the physical therapist will design a treatment plan specifically for you. In individuals with rheumatic conditions, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, the physical therapist strives to reduce pain and to help maintain or improve the mobility, flexibility, and strength needed for daily activities, such as getting in and out of beds, chairs, and bathtubs and safely walking and climbing stairs. Treatment may include a customized exercise program, heat and cold therapy, hydrotherapy, and/or massage. If you have surgery for your arthritis, the physical therapist will be part of the team involved in rehabilitation, which is designed to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.
Last Reviewed on June 4, 2010
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