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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Physical Therapist

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Physical Therapist

by Brandon Bowers, PT, DPT, Astym Cert.Leave a Comment

Did you know physical therapists can treat patients with headaches? Or did you know that physical therapists now receive a doctorate level education? Continue reading to discover ten things you didn’t know about your physical therapist.

1. Physical therapists work in a variety of settings

  • Physical therapists work in outpatient and inpatient environments, sports settings, skilled nursing, home health and in schools.

2. Physical therapists are musculoskeletal experts

  • Physical therapists undergo extensive graduate school training during which they become experts of movement of the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system refers to muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons.1

3. Physical therapy dates back to the early 1900s

  • Physical therapy was first utilized in the early 1900s during World War I. The polio epidemic caused many individuals to experience paralysis – it was during this time that many young women began treating these individuals to help them regain range of motion. Shortly after, the Army developed “reconstruction aide” programs to train individuals to treat soldiers that were injured during the war.2

4. Physical therapists help reduce and/or eliminate pain

  • The goal of physical therapy in many settings is to reduce or eliminate pain in order to improve function. This is accomplished with a thorough clinical evaluation, plan of care development, treatment intervention and goal setting.

5. Physical therapists can help you before and after surgery

  • Post-surgical physical therapy is needed in many cases in order to help patients achieve their prior level of function and to improve quality of life. Physical therapists work closely with surgeons while following a post-operative protocol to help patients achieve their optimal functional level. Physical therapists also help individuals who have non-surgical related pain or functional impairment.

6. Physical therapists work with individuals across the lifespan

  • Physical therapy is a service used for individuals of all ages, spanning from children to older adults. There are also physical therapists that specialize in patients at all stages across the lifespan.

7. Physical therapists treat a variety of diagnoses

  • Physical therapists work with patients with the following diagnoses: low back pain, rotator cuff tears, ankle sprains, ACL tears, headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, concussion, neck pain, golfer’s elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome among other diagnoses. Physical therapists also work with patients who have experienced a stroke, heart attack or traumatic brain injury (TBI), as well as, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. Of course this is not a comprehensive list as physical therapy can address many additional diagnoses than the ones listed above.

8. Physical therapists can be your biggest cheerleader

  • The goal of physical therapists is to help you help yourself. They enjoy helping patients progress from in pain or feeling discomfort to feeling well and without pain. Physical therapists encourage patients every step away and are there to celebrate each treatment milestone no matter how big or how small.

9. Physical therapists can see patients without a referral from a physician

  • In most cases, physical therapists are able to treat patients without a referral from a physician, however, there are a few insurance providers that still require a referral. Review this with your insurance prior to receiving care.

10. Physical therapists now earn a doctorate of physical therapy

  • Modern physical therapy education began as a bachelor’s level program, then transitioned to a master’s program and now to a doctorate program. Physical therapy typically involves a 4-year undergraduate education, followed by completion of a 3-year doctorate of physical therapy program.

Physical therapy is usually the thing you are told to do after medication, x-rays or surgery. The best way to fix your pain is to start where you normally finish – with physical therapy at Athletico. Schedule a free assessment in-clinic or virtually through a secure online video chat where our team can assess your pain and provide recommended treatment options.

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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1. “Becoming a Physical Therapist.” APTA,
2. Rahim Shaik,, Abdul, and Arakkal Maniyat Shemjaz. “The Rise of Physical Therapy: A History in Footsteps.”, 2014,

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