What exactly does a physical therapist do?
A physical therapist is a health care provider who assists patients with mobility improvement and pain management. Often patients are referred to a physical therapist by a primary care doctor or specialist for help recovering from a surgery or traumatic injury, such as a car crash. Physical therapists help patients manage pain that results from chronic disease and other illness. Physical therapy can help enhance mobility when patients are faced with neurological disorders, such as after a stroke, and provide relief from arthritis or other mobility and pain issues.
A physical therapist uses medical exercise equipment and exercises to empower patients to regain flexibility and mobility where possible. They may use treadmills, steps, medicine balls, resistance bands, isometric exercises, weights and more to improve muscle control and movement. A physical therapist uses physical movement to help heal the patient, but also can sometimes prescribe medication as appropriate. A physical therapist can also become board certified in one of nine specialty areas.
What are the different types of physical therapy?
Physical therapists work with people who have been injured or people who are ill to improve their movement and help them manage their pain. The U.S. Department of Labor explains that physical therapists “are often an important part of rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention of patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.” Physical therapists can also choose to specialize in one of nine areas. According to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, these areas of specialization are:
- Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
- Clinical Electrophysiology
- Sports and
- Women's Health
The national average cost for a physical therapist is $60 to $80, although it will cost more if the patient is paying for services out of pocket rather than through insurance. If you have insurance and want to work with a physical therapist for a specialty area, such as oncology or geriatrics, you may need a referral from your general practitioner. Patients who are paying directly for services can often contact the physical therapist directly.
Why is physical therapy important?
Physical therapy can help you recover range of motion and ease pain after injury, accident or illness. Many people are prescribed physical therapy by their primary care doctor or specialist after a car accident, surgery or sports-related injury. You don’t need a doctor’s referral to start physical therapy, but unless you are paying out of pocket for the services, your insurance provider might require a referral. Physical therapy is also a medical solution for pain associated with chronic illness such as osteoarthritis and can be used for recovery after a stroke or other neurological disorders.
Physical therapy teaches you how to move your body in a safe and healing way to regain strength and movement. During a physical therapy session, the PT will teach you to use medical exercise equipment and approved exercises to regain your lost flexibility and improve your mobility where possible. You may use treadmills, steps, medicine balls, resistance bands, isometric exercises, weights and more. From young children to seniors, patients of any age can benefit from the science-based movements and exercises that encourage flexibility, rebuild muscle, and ease stiff joints.
How much does a physical therapy session cost?
The national average cost for a physical therapy session is $60 to $80, although the cost may be higher if the patient pays out of pocket for the services instead of being covered by insurance. Physical therapy sessions may last from 30 to 120 minutes, depending on the therapist and your medical needs. When paying out of pocket, session rates may range from an average of $75-$300 or more, depending on the location, length of session, and specialization of the therapist. Standard out-of-pocket rates average $150 per session. According to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, physical therapists may become board certified in one of nine specialties: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiology, Geriatrics, Neurology, Oncology, Orthopaedics, Pediatrics, Sports, and Women's Health. To receive this board specialist certification, the physical therapist must complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical work in their specialty area and pass an exam. A physical therapist who is board certified in a specialty may charge higher rates to account for their advanced training and expertise.