10 Surprising Facts About Physical Therapy You May Not Know

physical therapy

Physical therapy is a health profession that restores function, promotes mobility, helps reduce pain, and prevents injury using therapies such as stretches and exercise. Physical therapy is a crucial field that helps individuals recover from injuries, surgeries, and chronic conditions while improving their overall quality of life. 

While many people are familiar with the concept of physical therapy, there are some fascinating and lesser-known facts about this profession that can truly amaze you. In this article, we will discuss ten fun and surprising facts about physical therapy that you may not know.

1. Physical Therapy Dates Back to Ancient Times

The formal practice of physical therapy as we know it today emerged in the 20th century. You can trace the roots of physical therapy to ancient civilizations. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians used various forms of manual therapy and exercises to treat injuries and promote healing. This historical connection highlights the enduring importance of physical therapy in human healthcare.

2. The First Physical Therapists in the United States Were Women

During World War One, female civilian employees of the United States Army were assigned to rehabilitate injured soldiers using massage techniques. They were referred to as “reconstruction aides” instead of physical therapists. This was the first time physical therapy was recognized as a profession in the United States.

After the war ended in 1921, the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association was established. Today, 70% of physical therapists are women.

3. Children Can Benefit from Pediatric Physical Therapy

Physical therapy for kids incorporates play to help children reap the benefits of physical therapy. Some pediatric conditions that limit a child’s ability to enjoy life to their fullest that may improve with physical therapy include:

  • Pain
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Autism
  • Down Syndrome
  • Developmental delays
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury

4. Physical Therapists Are Highly Educated

Becoming a licensed physical therapist is no small feat. Physical therapists undergo extensive education and training, including a bachelor’s degree, and must hold a doctor of physical therapy degree from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. They must also pass a licensure exam in their state to obtain their license, making them highly qualified professionals in their field.

5. Physical Therapy Treats Many Conditions

Many people think you need to be in pain to see a physical therapist. However, this is not the case. Physical therapy can treat existing conditions and help improve your health by increasing strength and preventing injuries.

There are many conditions that physical therapy can treat. Some of these conditions include:

  • Recovery after surgery
  • Injury prevention
  • Mobility issues
  • Chronic headaches
  • Inner ear dysfunction
  • Autism
  • Concussions
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Conditions such as diabetes
  • General pain disorders

6. Telehealth is an Option

In recent years, telehealth has gained popularity in various medical fields, including physical therapy. Patients can now receive virtual consultations and guidance from physical therapists in the comfort of their own homes. This flexibility is especially beneficial for individuals with mobility issues or those who live in remote areas.

During a telehealth visit, your physical therapist can evaluate your form when performing the prescribed exercises and adjust your treatment plan. You can also discuss any challenges you are experiencing with your treatment and celebrate successes.

7. Physical Therapy Isn’t Always Painful

One common misconception is that physical therapy is always painful. While you may experience some discomfort as you work to regain strength and mobility, physical therapists are skilled at ensuring that treatments are as pain-free as possible. 

8. There’s More Than One Type of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is physical therapy, right? Wrong! There are five types of physical therapy based on the patient’s needs.

  • Orthopedic physical therapy focuses on joints, bones, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Pediatric physical therapy helps children suffering from various health conditions.
  • Neurological physical therapy helps those with Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and Guillian Barré syndrome.
  • Cardiopulmonary physical therapy helps patients recover from heart surgery and can treat conditions such as lung disease and COPD.
  • Geriatric physical therapy helps improve mobility and strengthen muscles in older patients.

9. Physical Therapy Can Occur in Many Settings

Physical therapy isn’t only available in a doctor’s office. While many physical therapists have private offices you can visit, some of the other settings where you can find physical therapists include:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing Homes
  • Fitness centers
  • Home health care services
  • Residential care facilities
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Outpatient clinics

10. Physical Therapy is Safe, Natural, and Non-Invasive

Unlike medication and surgery, physical therapy is safe, non-invasive, and has no dangerous or unpleasant side effects. It can also reduce a patient’s dependence on medication. Medications like opioids are highly addictive and can result in worse consequences for patients. Physical therapy patients can avoid surgery and potentially addictive medications.

Reap the Benefits of Physical Therapy with Upslope Physical Therapy 

Physical therapy is a multifaceted field that offers many benefits beyond what most people commonly associate with it. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or looking to improve your overall well-being, physical therapy has something to offer everyone. So, the next time you encounter someone in the field, remember these fascinating facts about physical therapy and the incredible ways it can enhance lives.

Upslope Physical Therapy was formed to provide Northern Colorado’s active population who need assistance to recover from injuries, move better, and improve overall health. Working with people who want to take charge of their health is our passion.

When you trust your care to our expert team of physical therapists, you will receive one-on-one individualized treatment with a Doctor of Physical Therapy specializing in sports medicine. Contact us now, and let us help you reach your goal!

author avatar
Brady Hoffmann
As an active individual, staying healthy and injury-free is important to you. You make time for your workouts and training because it helps you focus, spend time with yourself, and work toward your goals.

Brady Hoffmann DPT, ATC

Owner and Founder of UpSlope PT

We Help Athletes and Active Adults Quickly Recover From Pain Or Injury So They Can Stay Active And Get Back To What They Love To Do.