Physical Therapy Definition

The goal of physical therapy is to rehabilitate patients who have painful or impaired movement and flexibility. A physical therapist may prescribe specific exercises and stretches to increase flexibility and range of motion and improve strength and endurance.

Physical therapy often includes the use of modalities, or passive physical therapy, such as electrical stimulation, hot packs, cold compresses, and ultrasound. Traction or deep-tissue massage may also be used to relieve pain. When necessary, therapists teach patients to use assistive and adaptive devices (such as crutches) as well as at-home exercises to speed the recovery.