About Physical Therapists

Physical therapists (PTs) at Suburban Orthopaedic Medical Center in Newark, NJ, are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility - in many cases without expensive surgery and often reducing the need for long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects.

Physical therapy is a type of treatment you may need when health problems make it hard to move around and do everyday tasks. It helps you move better and may relieve pain. It also helps improve or restore your physical function and your fitness level.

The goal of physical therapy is to make daily tasks and activities easier. For example, it may help with walking, going up stairs, or getting in and out of bed. Physical therapists can teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition so that they will achieve long-term health benefits. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

Physical therapy can help with recovery after some surgeries. Your doctor may suggest physical therapy for injuries or long-term health problems such as arthritis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Physical therapy may be used alone or with other treatments.

What does a physical therapist do?

Physical therapists provide care for people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes. State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices.

Your physical therapist will examine you and talk to you about your symptoms and your daily activity. He or she will then work with you on a treatment plan. The goals are to help your joints move better and to restore or increase your flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and/or balance.

First, your therapist will try to reduce your pain and swelling. Your physical therapist also may use manual therapy, education, and techniques such as heat, cold, water, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation. Treatment may cause mild soreness or swelling. This is normal, but talk to your physical therapist if it bothers you.

Physical therapy almost always includes exercise. It can include stretching, core exercises, weight lifting, and walking. Your physical therapist may teach you an exercise program so you can do it at home.

Physical Therapist are trained on a broad spectrum and may treat a number of different diagnoses. During you PT session the therapist may test a number of different areas of the body with a significant range of testing. Since Physical Therapists may work on almost any part of the body, these tests may include but are not limited to:

  • Aerobic capacity/endurance
  • Anthropometric characteristics
  • Arousal, attention, and cognition
  • Assistive and adaptive devices
  • Circulation (arterial, venous, lymphatic)
  • Cranial and peripheral nerve integrity
  • Environmental, home, and work (job/school/play) barriers
  • Ergonomics and body mechanics
  • Gait, locomotion, and balance
  • Integumentary integrity
  • Joint integrity and mobility
  • Motor function (motor control and motor learning)
  • Muscle performance (including strength, power, and endurance)
  • Neuromotor development and sensory integration
  • Orthotic, protective, and supportive devices
  • Pain
  • Posture
  • Prosthetic requirements
  • Range of motion (including muscle length)
  • Reflex integrity
  • Self-care and home management (including activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living)
  • Sensory integrity
  • Ventilation, and respiration/gas exchange
  • Work (job/school/play), community, leisure integration or reintegration (including instrumental activities of daily living)

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By assessing each individual patient and creating a personalized plan and set of goals the Physical Therapist may perform any of the following, dependent on the individual’s plan of care; keeping in mind the therapist may perform few or many of the following:

  • Coordination, communication and documentation
  • Patient/client-related instruction
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Functional training in self-care and home management (including activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living)
  • Functional training in work (job/school/play) and community and leisure integration or reintegration activities (including instrumental activities of daily living, work hardening, and work conditioning)
  • Manual therapy techniques (including mobilization/manipulation)
  • Prescription, application, and, as appropriate, fabrication of devices and equipment (assistive, adaptive, orthotic, protective, supportive, and prosthetic)
  • Airway clearance techniques
  • Integumentary repair and protection techniques
  • Electrotherapeutic modalities
  • Physical agents and mechanical modalities
  • Dry needling

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