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Physical Therapy 101: When and Why to see a PT

January 4, 2017


Physical therapists (PT) are experts at movement and helping to improve the quality of life and function of individuals with movement deficiencies due to many reasons.  In the state of Colorado, PTs are allowed direct access.  This means that a patient can go and be evaluated and treated by a PT without a referral from a medical doctor.  Consumers of physical therapy should be educated on who they are seeking treatment from.  If they have been referred to PT by a doctor, know that the consumer has the right to see any PT they choose.  The PT should be licensed in the state they are practicing in and will designate, “PT” behind their name.  Many other providers will claim they can provide rehab or physiotherapy but are not actual physical therapists and should not claim that they can provide physical therapy unless they are a licensed professional in that discipline. There are a lot of piecemeal "professionals" that claim they can provide rehab or functional rehab and will display an alphabet soup after their name with many certifications from all kinds of groups.  Please be educated on what these initials and certifications mean and who the groups that certify them are.  The strength and conditioning and personal training industry is not regulated so therefor many groups have taken it upon themselves to certify individuals and widen their scope of practice so please please please be educated on whom your are seeking treatment from.  But when it comes down to it, if you need physical therapy, rehab, physiotherapy, functional rehab, etc. just go see a licensed physical therapist!  


Physical therapists can have a wide range of treatment tools but ultimately the evaluation and plan of care is the most important and is where the PT and the patient create goals for a direct path to achieve those goals.  PTs with doctorate level of education are capable of differential diagnosis, meaning that they can refer you to another medical provider if they feel your ailment is not musculoskeletal in nature.  

Next time you feel you pulled, tweaked or moved weird to create abnormal body movements due to pain, swelling, numbness or tingling consider calling a physical therapist first.  PT evaluation and treatment can be more affordable and more effective than a route of unnecessary diagnostic imaging and medications.  Also, don’t wait to seek help.  Often times, injuries that obtain treatment sooner will heal quicker and won’t be a nagging injury plaguing your training.  

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