Whoever first said the cure is worse than the illness must have been treated by a physical therapist.
The bending and stretching and twisting and turning and all the other manipulations and exercises they put you through might make you wonder if your physical therapist wasn’t a medieval torturer in a past life. But just when you’re thinking of giving up, you discover you can move your shoulder more naturally; the pain in your knee is almost gone; you can climb stairs and carry groceries and get back to doing what you used to be able to do.
For working those kinds of miracles every day, October is set aside as National Physical Therapy Month. It’s a way to recognize the nation’s physical therapists, but, as the American Physical Therapy Association says, it’s also an “annual opportunity to raise awareness about the benefits of physical therapy.”
While much of the work of a physical therapist is helping with recovery from an injury and surgery, you’ll find therapists helping improve mobility in seniors and those with debilitating conditions. Others work as trainers in gyms, colleges and with amateur and professional sports to improve fitness and help avoid injury. Prevention is always better than rehabilitation, which is why you’ll hear physical therapists urging us this month especially to get out and get active.
Becoming a licensed physical therapist is hard work and takes no less than three years. You first earn an undergraduate degree in a health-related field then earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy studying anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, orthotics and prosthetics, nutrition and other even more specialized courses. Hands-on clinical experience is always part of the curriculum.
To practice, they have to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. Individual states have other requirements.
Many new graduates enter residency programs where they begin to specialize in particular areas like geriatrics and pediatrics and fitness.
Now that we’ve helped raise your awareness of the profession, be sure to thank your physical therapist and do your stretching and exercises.