If you’re dealing with an injury, a trauma, or a chronic condition, you might turn to physical therapy to help you recovery physically and get back to doing the things you love. The World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) defines physical therapy (PT) as a service provided by physical therapists to develop, maintain, and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout a person’s lifespan. Physical therapy is provided when movement and function are minimized by aging, injury, pain, diseases, disorders, conditions, or environmental factors.
While physical trainers help clients to stretch and become stronger, physical therapists help a person’s physical, psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing through the use of medical interventions and other techniques. The techniques can include airway clearance techniques; educating the client in the use of assistive products and technologies; stability and mobility interventions, such as balance training, posture training, and locomotion training; self-care activities training, such as toileting and dressing; domestic life training so that the client may participate as independently as possible in life situations; training in work related instrumental activities of daily living; and educating the client in integumentary repair and protection techniques. This guide from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) provides detailed information on the different types of interventions provided by physical therapists.
What is the NIDILRR community researching in this area? Current projects are focusing on robotics, stroke recovery, arthritis interventions, balance and stability after brain injury, and helping kids with cerebral palsy to sit and play. NIDILRR has funded more than 50 projects in physical therapy over more than 30 years!
If you’re a physical therapist looking for the latest research in your field, we recommend exploring our REHABDATA database. Our literature database has more than 2000 abstracts on PT alone, so here are some targeted searches we hope will help narrow it down for you:
- Physical therapy research from the NIDILRR community
- PT research published in 2016 and 2017 (including international research)
- PT and children
- PT and stroke
- PT and cancer
- PT and limb loss
- PT and assistive technology
Those are just a few examples of ways to explore our collection of research literature. Try your own search or contact an information specialist for a custom search or to order documents from our collection.
If you’ve never gone through physical therapy, you might be curious what it’s like, what to expect, and what you may not expect. Last year, our Media and Information Specialist shared her personal experience with PT following hip replacement surgery.