Treatment by a physical therapist may be prescribed by the referring physician and/or a plan the PT develops following a comprehensive assessment of the patient's condition. Therapies are described as passive or active. Passive therapies do not require the patient's participation, active therapies do.
The goals of physical therapy include reducing inflammation, muscle spasm, pain, and increasing flexibility (range of motion), strength, and mobility. Postural correction, ergonomics (proper body mechanics), and prevention are key to all physical therapy programs.
Passive therapies include heat and ice, joint mobilization, manipulation, massage, myofascial release, spinal traction, transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), and ultrasound.
Active therapies include stretching, strengthening, and aerobic (cardiovascular) training. Therapeutic exercise may be performed in a swimming pool (anti-gravity environment) to make stretching and strength building easier for patients who find weight-bearing exercise difficult.
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