5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Physical Therapy

The field of physical therapy has blossomed over the past few decades. Now millions of Americans recuperate from injuries, surgeries, and various physical disorders by following the exercises and advice of these trained specialists. Few Americans, however, know much at all about this field and its long history. Below you will find five interesting facts about physical therapy and physical therapists. Even if you’ve never been to a physical therapy session before, these facts are sure to intrigue and inform you.

1. Physical Therapy Was Born In World War I

After America entered the Great War in 1917, there was a great need for trained nurses to help wounded soldiers recuperate once they returned home. These nurses were actually called “reconstruction aides” for a long time, but after a few decades they became known as “physical therapists.” After World War I, there was still a great demand for physical therapists due to the increase of poliomyelitis in the USA. It wasn’t until after World War II, however, that physical therapy really began to expand. Today, physical therapy can be found all across the USA with various specialized areas of study including sports medicine, orthopedics, and musculoskeletal health.

2. Physical Therapists Can Treat Vertigo

People who experience common bouts of dizziness whenever they change their bodily position most likely have some kind of dysfunction in the vestibular system. The vestibular system is located in the inner ear and is key to our body’s understanding of motion, balance, and spatial orientation. Most physical therapists have been able to treat this form of vertigo in only one session.

3. No Need For Doctor’s Referral in Some States

Certain states in the USA have what is called Direct Access. This means you can go straight to a physical therapist without a referral from a licensed physician. Although this is not the law of the land yet, there is growing interest in making Direct Access more commonplace. Interested patients can check online to see if their state currently allows Direct Access.

4. Physical Therapists Need Advanced Degrees

Many patients still assume that a physical therapist only needs a B.A. to practice in the USA. While that might have been the case in the past, nowadays it is common for working physical therapists to have higher degrees from graduate school. Knowledge and demand in the field of physical therapy has grown greatly in recent years, and most physical therapists must have received at least a Doctorate of Physical Therapy to practice professionally.

5. Physical Therapist Massages Are Not “Pleasurable”

New patients are often disappointed with the “massages” given during their physical therapy session. Physical therapists are not as concerned with giving a person a relaxing oil massage as trained masseuses are. Instead, physical therapists work specifically on the muscles that need healing to improve tissue mobility. Physical therapists may also use massages to reduce inflammation. This targeted approach to massage is not necessarily “pleasant,” but it is done to help patients recover and increase mobility.


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