Physical therapy (PT) works with people with pain or lack of muscle-ability to improve strength, endurance, and range of motion, to move and function better.

Physical therapists aim to ease pain and help a person to function, move, and live better. A person may require physical therapy following an injury or illness, or they may require physical therapy for an ongoing, chronic condition or situation.

There are many different types of people who would benefit from physical therapy, and reasons why they may seek a physical therapist. Some of the reasons a person may require physical therapy include:

young patient doing physiotherapy at a clinic with help of a therapist after suffering an injury - rehabilitation concepts
  • Rehabilitation after an accident or injury
  • Therapy to prevent a repeat injury from occurring
  • Physical therapy to assist in recovery from a stroke or after surgery
  • Therapeutic work to improve balance to prevent slips and falls
  • Pain relief, whether it is from and injury or a chronic condition
  • Physical therapy to adapt to life with an artificial limb, walker, or cane/crutches.
  • Chronic conditions such as arthritis and heart disease which would benefit greatly from physical therapy
  • Improving movement and physical ability in a person with poor muscle tone or gross motor control, including those with Down syndrome and PDD-NOS.

Each of these different scenarios would benefit from the expertise and work of a physical therapist, in order to improve muscle ability, tone, and range, and increase the quality of life.

Physical therapy differs from occupational therapy in that it helps with the improvement of gross motor skills and large-muscle movements made with the arms, legs, feet, or entire body as opposed to improving fine motor skills, such as those made with the hands, fingers, and toes.

What are the Different Types of Physical Therapy?

There are six Common Types of Physical Therapy in practice today, with many smaller areas of specialization and focus within each one.

  • Orthopaedic Physical Therapy
  • Geriatric Physical Therapy
  • Neurological Physical Therapy
  • Cardiovascular Physical Therapy
  • Pediatric Physical Therapy
  • Rehabilitative Physical Therapy

Orthopaedic physical therapy can be utilized in the case of injuries or accidents, as well as for long-term, chronic conditions. Orthopaedic physical therapy involving the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. It may be used in the case of recovery from a fracture or sprain, from medical issues such as bursitis or tendonitis, or rehabilitation from orthopaedic surgery.
Orthopaedic physical therapy may include manual therapy as well as strength training and other physical activities.

Geriatric physical therapy is geared toward older people experiencing a loss of mobility and other physical functions. It can be utilized in rehabilitation after a joint replacement, as well as with dealing with arthritis and osteoporosis. Physical therapists specializing in geriatric physical therapy can help older patients who develop conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, balance disorders, and incontinence.

Geriatric physical therapy works to restore mobility in people, reduce pain levels and increase physical fitness, helping older people to live full and pain-free lives..

Neurological physical therapy works to help people with neurological disorders, injuries and conditions to improve their comfort and quality of life. People who develop neurological disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease can benefit from neurological physical therapy to increase limb responsiveness and increase muscle strength. If a person suffers a brain injury, spinal cord injury, or a stroke, neurological physical therapy can be focused upon treating paralysis, reducing muscle atrophy and helping a person to gain physical control over their body.

Neurological physical therapy works with a person’s muscles and their nervous system, as well as the coordination between the two, to improve the lives of those in need.

Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation are often coupled together to treat people with cardiopulmonary conditions and surgical procedures. These can include people recovering from a heart attack, managing heart failure and living with heart disease. Cardiovascular physical therapy can increase physical endurance and stamina, and helps people with breathing techniques to improve breathing and aerobic capacity. Cardiovascular physical therapists also work to educate people on the best ways to live and flourish with their particular afflictions.

Some other conditions which can benefit from cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary physical therapy include emphysema, asthma, ung cancer, lung transplants, chronic bronchitis, and COPD Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Pediatric physical therapy aims to diagnose, treat, and manage conditions that affect infants, children, and adolescents. There are many conditions and types of people who could benefit from pediatric physical therapy, including those experiencing developmental delays, children born with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or Down Syndrome, children recovering from an injury or surgery, and other conditions that impact the musculoskeletal system.

Pediatric physical therapists work to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion in children, often through games and physical activities designed to be fun while improving physical fitness.

Working with a Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are licensed health professionals who have specific graduate training in physical therapy. Since 2016, a person must graduate with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in order to take the state exam to earn a license to practice physical therapy.

At AC cares, we have access to physical therapists focusing upon the different areas of physical therapy, specializing in varying types of afflictions, in order to locate the physical therapist best for your particular needs.

A physical therapist will begin by evaluating a person’s condition and develop a plan to guide the therapeutic process. This assessment will include:

  • Questions regarding pain and other physical symptoms a person may be experiencing
  • Assessments to determine a person’s ability to perform various physical activities, including walking, climbing, and moving
  • Evaluation to determine the physical abilities of various limbs and extremities, including the ability to grasp, reach, and bend
  • Additional assessments, including heartbeat/heart rate, posture, and balance
  • Medical history and personal care history, such as sleep patterns, self-care, and nutrition


Following the intake evaluation, a treatment plan will be created which might include:

  • Exercises or stretches initiated and guided by the physical therapist
  • Massage, heat, or cold therapy, warm water therapy, to ease muscle pain
  • Education and practice of skills to help you learn to use an artificial limb, as well as practice with objects that help a person move or stay balanced, like a cane or walker

A person will be taught to do the exercises at home between sessions to stay on track and improve fitness level.