Helping to Reduce Pain and Restore Mobility
January 02, 2018
Submitted by Poonam McAllister, Vestibular Physical Therapist, Central Illinois Institute of Balance
People often think of physical therapy as a medical profession that primarily helps athletes recover from injuries. Physical therapy has a much broader scope of practice. From babies with physical disabilities, to women with pelvic pain, to those with chronic diseases like Parkinson’s — physical therapists help patients from all walks of life reduce pain and restore motion, strength, and mobility.
Many are unaware that physical therapists are required to complete extensive graduate studies that lead to a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. This program is comprised of three to four years of post-baccalaureate study in basic and applied science, clinical science, social science, and research methods. It also involves a rigorous clinical internship.
In addition, many physical therapists pursue Clinical Competency based certification in specialized fields as well as continuing their education and training by participating in a physical therapy residency or fellowship program for an additional nine to 36 months. Furthermore, physical therapists must be licensed by the state in which they practice, as well as take continuing education courses throughout the course of their careers.
Generalists and specialists
There are many different fields that all fall under the general physical therapy heading. Like other medical professionals, some physical therapists are generalists while others specialize in treating specific areas of the body — the back, neck, or knee — or concentrate their practice to certain types of conditions, such as vestibular disorders, balance problems, sports injuries, stroke, pediatrics, or women’s issues.
Physical therapists may also choose to be certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in one or more of these eight specialty areas: orthopedics, sports, geriatrics, pediatrics, cardiopulmonary, neurology, clinical electrophysiology, and women’s health.
A variety of settings
In addition to the broad range of conditions physical therapists treat, they provide care in a wide variety of settings: hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, rehab centers, and nursing homes. Physical therapy is covered by most commercial and government health insurance plans, including Medicare. In addition, some states allow direct access to see a physical therapist but several still require a physician referral. Because there are so many different types of physical therapists, people are often confused about how to choose the right one for their specific condition. Read next month’s article to find out more.
For more information on problems with balance or dizziness, you may contact Poonam McAllister at Central Illinois Institute of Balance,
309-663-4900, www.dizzyil.com. Poonam is specially trained in the evaluation and treatment of balance disorders using a comprehensive approach that looks at the complexities of balance problems in the context of the total patient. Her office is located at 211 Landmark Dr., Suite E-3 in Normal.
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