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What's the Definition of a Physical Therapist?
Physical therapists are health professionals who evaluate physical problems and injuries, then provide education and treatment to promote health and physical function. Physical therapists also develop programs that include exercise and stretching to increase fitness and prevent injury.
A physical therapist provides hands-on treatment to help return normal movement to joints and muscles and gives instruction about exercises to help heal and strengthen the body. Treatment may include physical or mechanical means, such as exercise, heat, or mild electrical current. Physical therapists also use devices such as prosthetics (artificial limbs), orthotics (braces and supports), and equipment to help a person in daily life.
Some physical therapists treat a wide range of ailments. Others specialize in areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, sports physical therapy, neurology, cardiovascular, pulmonary, oncology, and women’s health. Physical therapists work for hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, rehabilitation facilities, fitness facilities, and schools.
Physical therapists earn a master’s degree or entry-level doctorate in physical therapy from an accredited physical therapist educational program that includes a period of clinical work. All states require physical therapists to pass a licensure exam before they can practice.
What is physical therapy?
Physical therapy provides services for people of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, when medical problems or other health-related conditions limit their ability to move and function in their daily lives. A physical therapist will examine you and develop a treatment plan to increase your ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability.
The goals of physical therapy are to improve your mobility (such as walking, going up stairs, or getting in and out of bed), to relieve your pain, and to restore your physical function and overall fitness. Depending on your injury, disease, or condition, you may need to work on flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and/or balance. To do this, your treatment may focus on preventing problems or treating problems that affect:
Your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones (musculoskeletal system). Your nerves and related muscles (neuromuscular system). Your heart and related blood vessels (cardiovascular system). Your lungs and breathing (pulmonary system). Your skin, including wounds and burns. Any combination of two or more of these.
Does physical therapy hurt?
In most circumstances no. However, there are certain conditions, which are naturally painful, and a return to movement can cause an increase in your discomfort. The goal of therapy at our office is to make any and all gains in function with little or no pain. At times pain is an excellent indicator of what to do and when to do it. Remember the patient’s communication with the therapist is crucial for obtaining optimum treatment outcome… so speak up!
What should I wear?
Loose fitting comfortable clothes should be worn to allow optimal movement and comfort.
How long is an appointment?
Your appointment will generally last 1 hour. Your initial evaluation is also 1 hour.
What should I bring with me?
Make sure you bring your physical therapy referral (provided to you by your doctor) and your payment information. If your insurance is covering the cost of physical therapy, bring your insurance card. If you are covered by Workers’ Compensation, bring your claim number and your case manager’s contact information. If you are covered by auto insurance or an attorney lien, make sure you bring this information. Lastly, bring your smile 🙂
Can I go directly to my physical therapist?
Forty-three states have some form of direct access. In Montana, physical therapy practice acts do not require a diagnosis before a patient can see a therapist. You don’t need to consult your physician to establish a diagnosis and to receive a prescription for physical therapy.
We prefer that your Physician is intimately involved in your care and will make every effort possible to work synergistically with him or her.
Some insurance companies do require a diagnosis; check with your insurance carrier to verify this.
How many visits will I need?
This is highly variable. You may need one visit or you may need months of care. It depends on your diagnosis, the severity of your impairments, your past medical history, etc. You will be re-evaluated on a monthly basis and when you see your doctor, we will provide you with a progress report with our recommendations.
Can you treat headaches, migraines or chronic pains?
Yes. The therapists at Axis Physical Therapy are all trained in the use of many techniques to successfully treat headaches, migraines and other chronic pain conditions. Migraines, cluster headaches, muscle tension headaches, and chronic pains have been successfully treated with Integrative Manual Therapy(TM).
Who pays for physical therapy?
In most cases, health insurance will cover your treatment. We take major private insurance plans, including Medicare, Workers Compensation, etc. Visit our insurance page for more information. If you do not have insurance coverage, you may come in as a cash patient.
I do not have insurance coverage. What should I do?
In this case, we may see you as a cash patient. Please call our office to inquire about our rates and possible payment plan options.
I have more questions that have not been addressed in your FAQ.
Please call us at (406) 542-3333 and we will be glad to speak with you directly and answer any questions you might have.