“Physical therapy” is an umbrella term for a number of specialties that address a wide variety of health problems and injuries. Do you know the differences between the types of physical therapy available?
Here’s our guide to the most common forms of physical therapy.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy: This type of physical therapy is for the diagnosis, management and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, as well as post-operative therapy for sports injuries, arthritis, amputations, joint replacements and other procedures. If you have had surgery to treat an injury, you will most likely require orthopedic physical therapy during your recovery and rehabilitation.
Geriatric Physical Therapy: Physical therapy that treats age-related conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, hip and joint replacement, incontinence and balance disorders. The goal of geriatric physical therapy is to restore mobility, reduce pain and improve overall fitness.
Neurological Physical Therapy: Specialized therapy for patients who suffer from neurological disorders or disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, brain injury, spinal cord injury and stroke. The goal of neurological physical therapy is to improve areas of dysfunction that often accompany these disorders, including paralysis, vision impairment, poor balance, trouble walking and loss of independence.
Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy: Treatment geared toward increasing endurance and functional independence in patients being treated for a variety of cardiovascular and/or pulmonary disorders. For example, patients who have suffered from a heart attack may need to see a cardiopulmonary physical therapist to strengthen the heart and body through exercise.
Decongestive Physical Therapy: Individuals who have edema or other problems relating to the lymph nodes may require physical therapy to prevent the accumulation of fluids in the arms and legs. Decongestive physical therapy is used to drain fluids and minimize the buildup of fluids through treatments such as compression and exercise.
Pediatric Physical Therapy: Children who suffer from a variety of injuries or musculoskeletal disorders and diseases including developmental delays, cerebral palsy and spina bifida may require physical therapy. Pediatric physical therapists focus on improving a child’s balance and coordination, gross and fine motor skills, and strength and endurance. Physical therapy can also help children improve cognitive and sensory processing.
Sports Physical Therapy: Sports physical therapy is specialized therapy for athletes and physically active individuals that focuses on injury prevention, evaluation, treatment, rehabilitation and performance enhancement. Injury prevention interventions may include equipment recommendations and cardiovascular fitness programs.
If you suffer from a musculoskeletal, neurological or cardiovascular health condition that limits your endurance, physical movement, fine and/or gross motor skills (among other functions necessary for daily life), you might benefit from physical therapy. If you have not already received a physician referral for physical therapy due to an illness or injury, talk to your doctor today about how whether or not physical therapy can help you.