Physical therapy covers a range of treatments designed to prevent, treat and manage physical disorders using therapies that relieve pain and improve range of motion.
At The University of Kansas Health System, our expert physical therapy team works closely with your physician and other care team members to provide you with streamlined care to meet your needs. We provide therapy for people of all ages and with all conditions.
What is physical therapy?
Physical therapy is a noninvasive way to treat and manage a variety of conditions and disorders. Physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists are called physiatrists. They treat medical conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves and the musculoskeletal system.
Physical therapists are licensed health professionals who are sometimes called physiotherapists. They use specialized exercises and therapeutic equipment to treat those who are recovering from injury, disease or surgical procedures. The ultimate goal of any physical therapy treatment is to improve your quality of life.
Our programs are designed to meet your healthcare needs and goals. Therapeutic exercises and training may help you address issues such as:
- Joint mobility and flexibility for arms, legs and trunk
- Pain reduction and pain management
- Posture, body mechanisms and balance
- Problems with moving independently, walking, running
- Return to sports and other physical activities
- Strength, conditioning and endurance
Who can have physical therapy?
Many care plans include physical therapy. Our team will work with your physician and other care providers to help you manage a condition or recovery from an illness or injury. Specialty areas that often include physical therapy as part of the care team include:
How does physical therapy work?
You can receive physical therapy in all phases of your treatment, from diagnosis to recovery. Physical therapy treatments are designed to reduce pain and improve mobility.
The types of therapy that are used to achieve healing are called therapeutic modalities. There are many therapeutic modalities that can be used to aid in healing, ranging from targeted exercises to sophisticated equipment. However, therapeutic exercise is the foundation of any physical rehabilitation treatment plan.
Benefits and risks of physical therapy
Although physical therapy is noninvasive and typically low-impact, different therapeutic modalities can carry some risks. Poor or incorrect technique when performing physical therapy exercises can lead to additional pain or a worsening of the condition, as can over-extending muscles during exercise.
It is always important to strictly follow the advice of your physical therapist and clearly communicate any pain or discomfort during sessions. Any risks associated with physical therapy are greatly reduced by only working with board-certified professionals.
What happens during physical therapy?
You will enjoy a safe, motivational environment during your physical therapy sessions. We provide these services in several convenient locations and by telehealth using common technology such as a computer, tablet or smartphone.
During your first appointment, your physical therapist will evaluate your condition and medical history in order to design an effective treatment plan. The physiatrist or physical therapist will conduct a subjective exam to determine your quality of life and an objective exam to understand your physical condition.
After a treatment plan is in place, regular exercise and treatments are conducted to strengthen and train muscles and reduce pain. A major part of any physical therapy treatment plan is an estimate of the length of time needed to heal and train a patient’s musculature. Milestones will be set to track and celebrate progress towards an improved quality of life.