Just as there are different medical specialties, there are different types of physical therapy (PT). For example, the types of treatments a physical therapist would employ with an elderly person are completely different from those they would use on a child.
The six different types of PT address specific conditions common to a variety of the population.
How (and Who) Physical Therapy Helps
PT can be life-changing and offer a profound impact on those who need assistance in recovering from an injury, illness, or accident. Physical therapists can also guide patients on how to effectively avoid future injuries.
There are six main types of PT:
Pediatric Physical Therapy
Pediatric PT focuses on treating babies, children, and adolescents. This is a time in life when growth and development are fast and important. A pediatric physical therapist can help a child with developmental delays or one who has been injured improve movement, strength, flexibility, and range of motion. The goal of pediatric PT is to make it easier for a child with challenges to navigate through everyday life.
Geriatric Physical Therapy
As we age, muscles weaken, bones become more fragile, balance becomes more precarious, and the risk of injury from falls increases. Geriatric PT focuses on helping an elderly patient more effectively and safely make their way through life by building strength, endurance, and stability to avoid injury.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy
Orthopedic PT addresses issues related to muscles, bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments. A candidate for orthopedic PT would include a person who has been ill and bedridden for a long period, someone recovering from surgery, or a patient dealing with an old injury. The goal of orthopedic PT is to reduce pain, improve functionality, build strength and expand range of motion.
Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical Therapy
For those with a cardiopulmonary condition, living an independent life can often be difficult. Cardiovascular/pulmonary PT strives to help a patient who has been diagnosed with a heart or lung condition increase activity, build strength and improve endurance.
Dizziness and vertigo can be very debilitating conditions that can negatively impact quality of life. Vestibular PT works to help a patient teach their own body how to improve stability and minimize the symptoms of dizziness and vertigo.
Neurological Physical Therapy
People suffering from neurological disorders such as spinal cord injuries, strokes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, or brain injuries can benefit significantly from neurological PT. While these conditions are usually chronic, PT can help a patient reach a higher level of functionality and autonomy, which in turn, will improve their quality of life.
How To Find the Right Physical Therapist for Your Condition
Finding the right physical therapist for your unique condition begins with talking to your physician. They may have someone they can refer or with whom they’ve worked in the past.
You can also make inquiries at a PT clinic where specialists may be a part of the practice, or you can call The American Physical Therapy Association for a recommendation in your area. An initial PT assessment will determine if you will need to seek the care of a physical therapist specialist.