For The Health of It
  What is Physical Therapy?    

It is very likely that you have heard of physical therapy, or you may know of someone who has been treated by a physical therapist for some type of injury or condition. But exactly what is physical therapy? Who are physical therapists? The Model Definition of Physical Therapy, adopted by the American Physical Therapy Association, states that physical therapy includes:

1. Examining individuals with impairment, functional limitation, and disability or other health related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention.

2. Alleviating impairment and functional limitation by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions.

3.Preventing injury, impairment, functional limitation, and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and quality of life in people of all ages.

4. Engaging in consultation, education, and research.

While this "Model" provides a glance at the generic scope of physical therapy practice, the practice of physical therapy in the 21st century extends well beyond this generic definition.

While some of the techniques used in physical therapy have their roots in antiquity, Physical Therapy as a distinctive profession began during World War I. In an effort to provide early rehabilitation to wounded soldiers, the Surgeon General's Office formed the Division of Special Hospitals and Physical Reconstruction. This division created what were known as "Reconstruction Aides", who would later come to be known as Physical Therapists. Over 2,000 of these Reconstruction Aides were sent to hospitals in France to care for the rehabilitation needs of the wounded veterans. From this infancy, Physical Therapy began to slowly grow as a recognized medical profession until the polio epidemics of the 1940's and 50's. At that time, the role of physical therapy were increasingly important as physical therapists and aids were instrumental in helping people with this disease to overcome its paralyzing effects.

With the vast changes that are occurring in the nation's health care delivery system, physical therapy too, is changing. The physical therapy profession has kept pace with rapid advances in science and technology to provide the most effective patient treatment possible. Such advances are seen in our use of the recently approved "Light Therapy" that I previously wrote about.

Physical Therapist is not a generic term. A Physical Therapist is specially trained in the examination and treatment of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular problems that affect ones abilities to move and function as well as they can in their daily lives. Because physical therapists are required to understand a vast array of problems that can affect movement, function, and health, all physical therapists are college graduates. In fact, all current physical therapist education programs graduate students at a master's degree level, with many schools offering a clinical doctorate in physical therapy. All physical therapists must pass a national examination and be licensed by the state in which they practice.

As a patient, here at Paradise Skilled Nursing, you can expect from your Physical Therapist:

1.Examination to include performing tests and measures.

2.Perform evaluations by making clinical judgments based on the data gathered during the examination.

3.Establish a diagnosis by organizing evaluation results into defined clusters, syndromes, or categories to help determine appropriate intervention strategies.

4.Determine a prognosis that indicates the level of optimum improvement that might be attained.

5.Provide interventions based on the outcomes desired.

6.Evaluate the success of those interventions and modify treatment as may be necessary to effect the desired outcome.

7.Terminate interventions when benefit has been attained.

8.Provide prevention and wellness (including health promotion) programs.

9.Provide services to consult, screen, and educate.

Currently, there are an estimated 115,000 physical therapists practicing in the United States. The need for their care is growing. In the United States alone, physical therapists help hundreds of thousands of individuals daily to restore health, improve function, and alleviate pain. The physical therapy staff at Paradise Skilled Nursing are no different.

Demand should continue to grow in the long run, as increasingly more people require physical therapy services because of the growing elderly population, the aging baby-boom generation, and technological and medical advances that have enhanced the effectiveness of rehabilitation for people of all ages.

Dr. Ron Brown has administered various heath care facilities for the past thirty years and is best known locally for his development and opening of Country Crest in Oroville in 2002. Currently he oversees facility management of Paradise Skilled Nursing in Paradise and Shadowbrook Health Care in Oroville.  He can be contacted at  or
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