By Doug Giles, DPT
You have probably heard of physical therapy. Maybe you had a conversation with a friend about how physical therapy (PT) helped get rid of his or her back pain, or you might know someone who needed physical therapy after an injury or surgery. You might even have been treated by a physical therapist yourself. But have you ever wondered about physical therapists—who they are and what they do?
In my 5 years as a physical therapist I have noticed that most people know a little about PT, but often are not aware of our profession, our educational background and the variety of services we provide.
What we do in physical therapy, (also known simply as PT) has been around a long time. Hippocrates was known to employ the healing benefits of massage and hydrotherapy in ancient healing. The earliest modern day physical therapists worked in hospitals treating patients with polio and injured soldiers from World War II.
Today, physical therapists are highly educated, licensed health care professionals who work in a variety of settings. The education levels of physical therapist are similar to pharmacists and lawyers. In about 3 years after college, physical therapists receive either a Masters or Doctorate Degree in physical therapy. Some therapists choose to specialize in specific areas and take additional tests to certify them as board certified clinical specialists. You will find PT’s working in a variety of workplaces including outpatient clinics, hospitals, skilled nursing homes, home health care and with athletes and sports teams.
I believe the two most important concepts we emphasize in physical therapy are movement and function. Healthy movement is the ability to move freely without pain and restrictions. When we stop moving, or move poorly or un-evenly, our bodies will pay for it sooner or later. The old saying: ‘use it or lose it’ is so true. Healthy function is when we can live, work, and play without pain or injury.
As physical therapists we are trained to diagnose and treat movement problems. We seek out the source of the problem and strive to restore proper movement and balance in our patients. It is a process that can take some time, but can yield long lasting results. We value our role as a conservative alternative for those looking to avoid surgery or taking medication for their problems.
For me, the most rewarding part of being a physical therapist is seeing the quality of life improve in a patient. When a patient can move better, with less pain, and return to those things that are most important to them, we are successful!
Nevada is known as a Direct Access state, which means you can see a physical therapist directly, without a physician referral. Most insurance plans have a physical therapy benefit. If you have insurance, sometimes a physician referral is required to see a physical therapist, and sometimes it is not. Check your plan or call the clinics in our area for more information.
We are fortunate to have good therapists in our community. Keep in mind that regardless of whether your physician refers you, or you come to a physical therapy clinic directly, you always have a choice of where to receive physical therapy care.
Doug Giles, DPT is a licensed physical therapist and has his Doctorate in Physical Therapy. He sees patients at FIT Physical Therapy located at 475 N. Moapa Valley Blvd in Overton. He can be reached at 702-397-6700.