You may know physical therapy as one of the effective methods for musculoskeletal rehabilitation. However, there is more to this medical specialization. Here’s what you need to know about how physical therapy has grown to be a vital medical practice.
Physical Therapy Through the Years
The first known use of physical therapy was in 460 BC, wherein Greek and Roman physicians used manual therapy and hydrotherapy techniques. Centuries later, in 1813, Sweden’s Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics used physical exercise for treating the ill. Decades later, orthopedics began treating children with polio and injured WW I soldiers with modern physical therapy methods.
In 1974, the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) held its first meeting in Montreal, Canada. Physical therapy has now evolved to become one of the leading preventive and rehabilitative treatments for various diseases.
Physical therapists (PT) must undergo 2,000 hours in an area of specialization before qualifying for certification from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). The practice of physical therapy has now grown to have nine specializations.
1. Cardiovascular & Pulmonary
This specialization helps patients recover from heart attacks, heart surgeries, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cardiovascular & pulmonary therapy specialists use breathing and physical exercises to improve the heart and lungs’ function.
2. Clinical Electrophysiology
Clinical electrophysiology involves the use of electrotherapy and electrophysiologic testing (such as EEG).
Geriatrics deals with the elderly, so this physical therapy specialization helps restore mobility for older adults. Geriatric PT also aims to maintain their fitness and reduce pain through exercise.
PTs specializing in neurology deals with patients with neurological diseases such as epilepsy and muscular dystrophy. Neurological physical therapy aims to relieve symptoms and increase the overall function of patients.
Oncologic physical therapy deals with cancer patients and people with HIV/AIDS, as well. This PT branch focuses on neuromuscular, integumentary, and cardiopulmonary systems to improve patient health.
This branch of physical therapy is the most common and well-known specialization. Orthopedic PTs help patients increase strength, restore range of motion, and improve overall musculoskeletal function. Orthopedic physical therapy is useful for pre and post-surgery rehabilitation of the major joints.
Pediatrics PTs help children with delayed motor function through various strengthening exercises. Children with cerebral palsy and Down syndrome commonly undergo pediatric physical therapy.
Sports physical therapy deals with the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal function for athletes. Because of its nature, sports PT aims to improve mobility, strength, flexibility, and even body coordination.
9. Women’s Health
Women’s health PT focuses on women undergoing physical therapy. Specialists in this area understand the difference in the hormones and other bodily functions of women.
Recent Advancements in Physical Therapy
With numerous physical therapy specializations and treatable health conditions still on the rise, PT continues to grow as a profession. Here are just some of the recent advancements in this century.
Myofascial release is a manual therapy that can reduce pain and discomfort in the neck, arms, shoulders, lower back, and feet. Chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists can deliver myofascial release.
The health and medical community of the 21st century welcomed complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments such as dry needling. This physical therapy technique is adapted from the traditional Chinese medicine practice of acupuncture. It involves the use of fine needles, which are inserted into the muscle membrane, to relieve pain and soreness due to knots of muscle or trigger points. Dry needling is often used to complement other forms of physical therapy.
Core Stability Training
Core stability training is a preventive measure for musculoskeletal injuries. Exercising for core stability has been found to reduce injuries of the lower extremities. This physical therapy training also improves overall balance and strength.
Despite the importance of posture in preventive medicine, many people are still unaware of the body’s proper positions. Studies show that having good posture can reduce the risks of back pain, among others. Through physical therapy, PTs can teach patients how to hold or position their body, whether they are sitting, standing, walking, or sleeping.
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization
Instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) has become one of the leading sports physical therapy methods. Generally, PTs use soft tissue mobilization to relieve soft tissue injuries such as strains and sprains. Studies have also shown that IASTM improves flexibility without altering the neural and muscular properties of the tissues involved.
Physical Therapy in Ellicott City and Jessup, MD
Physical therapy has grown both as a medical profession and treatment method throughout the years. Because of its numerous benefits and the growing number of people who are now more conscious about their health, physical therapy will surely continue to evolve and cover more area.
Here at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland, we have state-of-the-art equipment to support our up-to-date physical therapy practices. Our physical therapy team is committed to providing you with quality patient-centered care.
Schedule an appointment online, and let us help you relieve the pain. If you have any questions about our services, you may call us at (410) 644-1880. We look forward to serving you!