Moving Forward

A physical therapist's perspective on being a health care consumer and on the profession of physical therapy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What is Physical Therapy and Who are Physical Therapists?

Day to day in the clinic and around the community I frequently encounter misconceptions about what physical therapy is and who physical therapists are. I suppose this state of affairs is true of a lot of professions, but I find that these misconceptions often influence when and why a person might seek the care of a therapist.

Here are a few questions about who we are that I am often asked:
- How much school did you have to go through?
- Do you guys just treat athletes?
- What types of problems do you treat?

First and foremost, physical therapists are specialists in treating movement dysfunction. We have a variety of ways to deal with a variety of movement problems. These problems may consist of the issues that come with a stroke, a spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, or from having had an amputation. There are many many disorders and diagnoses that might bring about movement dysfunction. Then there is pain. Pain often creates movement dysfunction as well. It can limit your amount of movement, decrease your tolerance to movement, and make functioning annoying, difficult, or flat out impossible.

Physical therapists are trained and licensed professionals. We must graduate from an accredited physical therapy program. A typical duration of schooling for a physical therapist is 6-7 years of undergraduate and post-graduate university training (and yes it did feel like a long time!). After graduation we must pass a state licensure examination. Each year we must update our training with continuing education courses.

It is a very rewarding profession and well worth the effort it takes to become one.

A very common question I am asked next is: "Isn't that a lot of school to learn about exercise?" In order to answer this I need to address what is physical therapy, which I will do in the next post.....

In the meantime, please feel to add any other questions you can think of about who are physical therapists and I will answer them.

Cory Blickenstaff PT
Forward Motion Physical Therapy

Introduction

Welcome to my blog. My name is Cory Blickenstaff and I am a physical therapist. I own and operate a clinic in Vancouver, WA called Forward Motion Physical Therapy. I am a board certified specialist in orthopaedics and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. While physical therapists help a wide variety of people with a wide variety of problems, my particular interest is in helping people in pain. These people may be young or elderly, elite athletes or couch potatoes, dealing with new pains or with very old and persistent pain. They may have any number of medical diagnoses. I see people at many places on many spectrums. If they hurt when they move I try to help them.

This blog will often be about discussing issues involving physical therapy, pain, and its treatment. I will hope to keep it entertaining, bringing in seemingly unrelated topics and tying them in to what it is to experience and recover from pain.

Also of concern to me is protection of the consumer. Searching for effective health-care today is daunting. There are as many resources as there are people to ask and often times advice is conflicting. Oprah may say one thing while your physician says quite another and a chiropractor tells you a third. In this time of easy to access information there is a lot of opportunistic marketing around to prey on the unsuspecting health-care consumer.

The second purpose of this blog will be to examine some of these issues. We'll discuss some of the marketing ploys out there, how to recognize the deceitful ones, and where to find good information. Consumer protectionism if you will.

Feel free to comment on my posts and join in the discussion.

Cory Blickenstaff PT

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