Physical Therapy Specialties

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There are many different areas or types of physical therapy specialties, or practice areas. This needs to be said because many times the general public overlooks this fact. Each one of the specialties listed below will focus on specific types of problems and issues. This makes it imperative for you to really do some basic research in order to discover which professional will be able to best serve your needs.

Orthopedic Physical Therapy:

This specialty focuses on diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders of the musculoskeletal system. They also help people to recover from orthopedic surgery and can normally be found in out-patient settings. Many people who have suffered from things like sports injuries, joint issues, arthritis, and even amputations will be in need of this type of physical therapy.

Physical Therapy Specialties

There are a number of treatments that can be employed by orthopedic physical therapists. This may include strength training, hot and/or cold compresses, joint mobilizations, and electrical stimulation are some of the commonly used methods.

Geriatric Physical Therapy:

Geriatrics is a branch of medicine that relates to aging and treating patients all throughout their adult and elderly life stages. Many types of common problems and issues tend to creep up on us as we age. These include things like balance disorders, arthritis, hip and joint issues, osteoporosis, incontinence, and Alzheimer’s disease. This specialty seeks to develop individualized programs to help solve the major issues like pain reduction, mobility restoration, and increasing overall fitness levels.

Neurological Physical Therapy:

This is one area that you might not consider to be physical therapy at first glance. However, the brain is incredibly important to our overall health and long-term well-being. Those patients suffering from cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, MS, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, stroke, or other brain issue could benefit from this type of help.

Many times, patients with neurological injuries suffer from a number of associated effects or problems that should be treated. This includes things like poor balance, partial paralysis, impaired vision, and a loss of the sense of independence. By working with a therapist skilled in this area, many of these symptoms can be improved.

Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Rehabilitation:

Many times a patient who has undergone cardiac or pulmonary (heart or lung) surgery will seek out physical therapy. The primary initial goal of this type of treatment is to increase endurance, which should also help with functional independence. Of all the physical therapy specialties, this is probably the most straightforward and focused on a single goal.

Pediatric Physical Therapy:

This branch of physical therapy is involved in the early detection of health problems in infants, children, and even adolescents. This encompasses a wide range of injuries and disorders that can affect the muscles, bones, and joints. You would be correct in thinking that this type of work employs a number of skills and treatments taken from other specialties as well. Day to day work may involve improving balance and coordination, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, strength and endurance, and also cognitive and sensory processing integration. Children having developmental delays should be taken to this type of specialist in order to determine what type of treatment is appropriate.

Bottom Line:

Physical therapists work in a variety of settings and can treat a number of conditions. In many states you can even seek evaluation and treatment from a physical therapist without seeing your doctor first. Chances are likely that you will be given exercises to perform at home. Make sure you do them!

Written by Dr. Aatif Siddiqui. Founder of Esprit Wellness, Dr. Sid focuses on total body wellness through maintaining a healthy spine.