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What is a Physical Therapist, Anyway?

1/27/15 4:37 PM
A Physical Therapist is defined as a health professional primarily concerned with the remediation of impairments and disabilities and the promotion of mobility, functional ability, quality of life and movement potential through examination, evaluation, diagnosis and physical intervention.

What do they do for their patients?

A Physical Therapist evaluates components of movement including:
  • Strength
  • Range of Motion
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Posture
  • Body Mechanics
  • Coordination
  • Endurance 
  • General Mobility

After evaluation, a Physical Therapist will develop a treatment program unique to each individual patient to help decrease deficits and restore function. The Physical Therapists of Onondaga Physical Therapy in Syracuse, Baldwinsville, Cicero AND Liverpool all complete these assessments during an hour long, one-on-one evaluation.

What are the education requirements to be a Physical Therapist?

Physical Therapists are highly trained medical professionals, currently graduating with Doctoral Degrees in Physical Therapy. This degree requires an average of 6-7 years of higher level education. You will often see this abbreviated as DPT or as PT, DPT within post-nominals. 

...Education does not stop there...

Physical Therapists in New York are required to complete 36 hours of Continuing Education (or CEU's) every 3 years to maintain their license to practice. This requirement for hours can be completed through online courses, live seminars, or participation in local or national conferences. You will often see and hear of our therapists working together in what we call "Journal Club." This is Onondaga Physical Therapy's quarterly "pow wow" of therapists in which new techniques, learning and latest research are shared, discussed and practiced between therapists. 

This "Journal Club" came to be because our therapists wanted to share what they learn from these courses with and learn from each other in a meeting of the minds in order to be able to provide top-notch care to their patients. 

How does one get started with Physical Therapy?

By Prescription....The most common way to begin Physical Therapy is to see your doctor - either primary care or any specialist - and obtain a prescription for Physical Therapy. Nurse Practitioners, Physicians Assistants, Podiatrist, and Chiropractors can all refer a patient to PT.

Direct Access... The State of New York allows for Direct Access to Physical Therapy. This means that you are allowed to be seen by a physical therapist for 10 visits or 30 days (whichever comes first) without having to first obtain a prescription from your doctor. Many insurance plans allow coverage for Physical Therapy using Direct Access - more and more are adding this coverage everyday. You can find out by asking if Direct Access is allowed on your plan, or by contacting one of our offices. One of our Office Coordinators will be happy to let you know whether Direct Access is available under your insurance plan. (Worker's Compensation and No Fault cases are exceptions to this rule, as well as Medicare) 

Free Injury Screening...This is a 15 minute meeting with one of our therapists, used to discuss your concerns and decide if PT is the way to go. This is a great option if you are unsure if Physical Therapy is right for you.  If necessary, we can also discuss with and forward these findings to your physician in order to obtain a prescription or come up with a plan together to get you on the road to recovery. After determining Physical Therapy is for you with a Free Injury Screening, it is also possible to get started with treatment right away using Direct Access. 

Information provided by the entire staff of Onondaga Physical Therapy. Have a question? Contact us and pick our brains!

Topics: physical therapist, physical therapy