what type of patients do physical therapists work with

What Type of Patients do Physical Therapists Work With?

Physical therapists are skilled people who work with a variety of patients. Each one has their own needs and conditions. What kind of patients do physical therapists really work with? In this blog post, we’ll be investigating what type of patients do physical therapists work with.

If you need your memory refreshed. Physical therapists help everyone from athletes to elderly individuals trying to regain mobility. They help those who have a developmental delay and those in chronic pain. From surgeries to accidents they also assist those recovering from them as well. Managing arthritis or helping someone recover from a stroke is just another day at the job for these professionals.

In order for a patient to understand their specific needs and goals, physical therapists treat each person differently. This includes various exercises, manual therapy techniques, and educating on injury prevention. Their expertise helps these patients regain strength, mobility, and most importantly independence.

Below we will go more into detail about each type of patient physical therapists work with. By end of this article you’ll have gained valuable information while having fun learning!

What Type of Patients do Physical Therapists Work With?

Physical therapists see a wide range of patients with various needs and conditions. It’s important for aspiring physical therapists to understand the different types of patients in order to provide them with the best care and treatment.

Pediatric Patients

Physical therapists work with a range of patients, including pediatric patients. These are children who need specialized care and treatment due to their unique needs. Pediatric physical therapy works on improving the physical function and mobility of children from their infancy through adolescence.

This age group can be broken down into many different stages. Physical therapists play an extremely crucial role in the life of these young souls by helping them regain strength, mobility, and independence despite their condition or injury.

A common condition that pediatric physical therapists come across is cerebral palsy. This disorder affects muscle tone, movement, and coordination, which causes difficulty in performing normal everyday activities. The purpose of therapy interventions is to develop muscle strength, balance, and coordination so that children with this disorder can perform daily activities effectively.

Another area in which kids may need help is developmental delays. Physical therapist use exercises that promote skill development such as crawling, walking or running to make sure they reach milestones at the correct time.

Musculoskeletal injuries also happen frequently among pediatric patients. Injuries can occur while playing sports or even for just simply falling off something. Regardless of how it happens though physical therapists work closely alongside these individuals to reduce pain as much as possible.

Geriatric Patients

Physical therapists work with lots of people including geriatric individuals. These are older adults who require specialized care to maintain their mobility and independence throughout life . By using physical therapy old people can live more fulfilling lives up until they die.

As people age they face unique challenges associated with getting old like decreased strength , balance issues ,and chronic conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis  . It’s hard dealing with things like this but that’s why there are professionals out there right? 

One popular goal within geriatric physical therapy is to improve mobility and reduce the risk of falling. This is done through strategic exercises and balance training.  Physical therapists can also help older adults regain coordination and strength that they lost over the years . This not only enhances their ability to perform everyday activities but also reduces the likelihood of injuries caused by falls.

Physical therapists don’t just stop there though with getting people back on their feet. They focus a lot on reducing pain and promoting optimal joint health for geriatric patients as well. Alleviating pain helps increase joint mobility allowing them to do more without feeling constant discomfort.

Physical therapists also play a key role in promoting independence and functional abilities in geriatric patients. They assess the patient’s needs and create individualized treatment plans that may include anything from gait training to assistive devices, to home exercise programs. By giving geriatric patients an active role in their own care, physical therapists are able to help them maintain their independence while improving their overall quality of life.

Injuries and Athletes

When it comes to sports medicine, physical therapists deal with quite a few patients who have sustained sports-related injuries. These professionals provide specialized care and develop rehabilitation programs specifically designed for athletes.

One type of injury they commonly treat is sprains and strains. Physical therapists use many techniques like manual therapy and therapeutic exercises to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and restore function which then helps reduce recovery time.

ACL tears are another example of common injuries for athletes, but this one requires a much more intense recovery process. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is most commonly injured in movements that involve quick stops, changes in direction or blows directly to the knee. Physical therapists work closely with these athletes on extensive rehabilitation programs that focus on strengthening muscles surrounding the area to build stability before reintroducing functional movements.

Concussions occur often as well due to how dangerous some athletic activities can be, especially high-contact sports. In regards to concussions physical therapy works by assessing symptoms alongside other healthcare professionals so that they can slowly guide the athlete through safe exertional training until they’re able to make a full return-to-play protocol without further complications being developed indefinitely.

What makes sport-specific rehabilitation different from other types is that physical therapists work off of the specific demands played within each sport so that they can then cater treatment accordingly based on individual needs. Programs typically focus on developing strength, flexibility, agility as well as any skills specific to said sport itself for competition safety.

Orthopedic Patients

Orthopedic patients are those who seek out physical therapists to help them recover from a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. This could range from an athlete recovering from a sports injury all the way to an elderly person needing help with age-related joint problems. By going through this process, physical therapists are able to guide orthopedic patients towards regaining functionality and reducing any pain they may have.

An example of an orthopedic patient is someone who’s experienced fractures. Physical therapists work alongside these individuals to create personalized treatment plans that concentrate on strengthening the impacted area, improving overall movement and promoting strong healing.

Another group of orthopedic patients are those who’ve gone through joint replacements. No matter if it’s a hip, knee or shoulder replacement – therapy is always part of the recovery process. Through exercises and techniques that focus on rebuilding mobility, increasing strength, and enhancing joint function as a whole; this will help speed up the road back to full health and prevent further down the line issues.

Tendonitis is another typical orthopedic ailment that physical therapists look at. This takes place when tendons get inflamed from an excessive amount of use or repetitive motions. Physical therapists use tons of different methods to treat it, like stretching exercises, manual therapy, and ultrasound. All of this combines to help get patients back on their feet.

The impact physical therapy has had on orthopedic patients is undeniably impressive. To create a treatment plan for each patient’s unique needs, physical therapists lean on their knowlege in anatomy and biomechanics. They normally go with combinations of therapeutic exercises, mods such as heat or cold therapy, and manual therapy to achieve the best results for their patients.

Neurological Patients

Various disorders fall under the category of neurological conditions, which affects the nervous system. When it comes to the rehabilitation of patients with these impairments, physical therapists play a crucial role. They help patients regain their independence and improve their quality of life. Physical therapists that specialize in neurorehabilitation typically work with people who have suffered from strokes.

When an individual suffers from a stroke, blood flow to the brain is interrupted. This causes various impairments such as muscle weakness, unsteadiness when standing or walking, and difficulty with coordination. With every patient being so different from one another, physical therapists will create unique treatment plans for each person they work with. The goal is to improve mobility, strength, and functional abilities by using personalized targeted exercises and techniques.

Another common condition that requires services is multiple sclerosis (MS). MS occurs when the central nervous system is affected causing fatigue and muscle weaknesses among other symptoms. Typically starting off mild but progressively worsening over time. To combat this physical therapists use specialized techniques such as strengthening exercises like weight lifting or resistance training and balance training like standing on one leg or sitting on an exercise ball.

Parkinson’s disease is known for being progressive and makes movements stiff due to tremors alongside movement difficulties . Physical therapists collaborate with these patients by designing exercise plans that target certain motor skills providing a significant improvement in movement control.

Neurological conditions restrict our body’s ability to move properly thus making neurorehabilitation essential if we want them to be able to perform tasks on their own again independently. For example breathing exercises can help individuals cope with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which limits airflow through your lungs making it difficult for you to breathe sometimes even at rest.

Cardiopulmonary experts are instrumental in helping individuals recover cardiovascular and respiratory functions back up where they used to be before falling ill or into an accident. Here are three examples of such conditions:

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung disease that stops you from breathing normally. Physical therapist step in and teach patients new techniques to help them control this situation on their own. Chest physiotherapy, breathing exercises, and aerobic conditioning are just some of the things they can try to fix your pulmonary disease.

Heart failure happens when your heart isn’t pumping blood at an acceptable rate leading to fatigue even with very little activity. Since the workout for individuals with heart failure is minimal, physical therapy aims to gradually increase exercise tolerance, improve circulation and strengthen the heart muscle.

After cardiac surgery mobility is also limited since strength and flexibility may have diminished. With regular exercises from a physical therapist, these attributes will eventually return alongside endurance over time. The goal here is to prevent any complications by focusing on promoting better healing and facilitating a safe return to daily activities after rehabilitation.

Physical therapy is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving physical health. Specifically for patients with cardiopulmonary conditions. Physical therapists use a number of different techniques — aerobic conditioning, strength training and breathing exercises — to improve lung capacity, increase endurance and better cardiovascular health on the whole.

Pre and Postnatal Patients

Physical therapists work with a broad range of patients, including pre and postnatal individuals. These patients require specialized care that focuses on their unique conditions during pregnancy and after giving birth.

One example of this is diastasis recti, which refers to the separation of abdominal muscles as the uterus grows. Physical therapists can dole out exercises and techniques that help strengthen abs, promoting healing.

Pelvic floor dysfunction is another common condition in prenatal patients. Symptoms include urinary incontinence, pelvic pain or difficulty having bowel movements. However, physical therapists have been trained to provide pelvic floor exercises that improve muscle strength and coordination.

Pregnancy also puts strain on an individual’s back as they gain weight and their posture changes over time. This often leads to discomfort or pain that physical therapists can address through stretches, exercises and ergonomic advice.

On top of everything mentioned above, physical therapy plays a crucial role in overall prenatal health too by improving posture, strengthening muscles and relieving discomfort throughout the process; before baby arrives!

The same goes for postpartum recovery as well. After giving birth there’s a lot going on inside both physically and mentally; however the body still needs attention paid to all of its parts so it recovers in due time.

Chronic Pain Patients

It’s not uncommon for patients who experience persistent pain for longer than three months (chronic pain) to reach out for help from physical therapists regarding how they can manage pain better while increasing their quality of life.

But just like there are countless types of chronic pain conditions there are equally as many treatments depending on what’s going on:

Fibromyalgia: a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and tender points. Physical therapists develop personalized treatment plans for fibromyalgia patients that may include exercises to improve strength and flexibility, as well as manual therapy techniques to alleviate pain.

Low back pain: Millions of people worldwide are affected by low back pain. Physical therapists play a crucial role in the management of it by providing targeted exercises to strengthen the core muscles, improve posture and reduce pain. They also educate patients on proper body mechanics and ergonomics to prevent further injury.

Arthritis: Joint inflammation can be incredibly painful which is what arthritis tends to create. But through heat or cold therapy physical therapists can help control pain levels along with therapeutic exercises aimed at increasing joint mobility for arthritis patients.

Physical therapy is critical for individuals struggling with chronic pain, as well as for enhancing their general quality of life. Physical therapists help people handle their pain, improve how they function, and make themselves more mobile using a combination of therapeutic exercises, patient education, and manual techniques. On top of that, physical therapists offer tips on lifestyle adjustments to bring about better health.

Recovering Patients

Recovery patients are a diverse bunch who need specialized care enabling them to regain their mobility and independence again. In the rehab process, physical therapy plays an important part in helping people get back to normal after enduring various injuries and conditions. We’ll dive into the different types of patients that physical therapists cater to shortly but first let’s address the significance of taking a multidisciplinary approach in facilities designed for rehabilitation.

Patients work with physical therapists following injuries or issues that affect their overall well-being and mobility. Some examples include musculoskeletal injuries (injury within the muscles or bones), neurological disorders (disease affecting the brain or nerves), and chronic pain conditions (pain lasting longer than 12 weeks). The main goal is to implement personalized treatment plans backed by solid evidence so that patients can have a higher quality of life.

Spinal Cord Injuries: Individuals with spinal cord injuries often struggle through their daily lives. However, physical therapists are able to lend a hand in getting some strength back into them while also working on their ability to be active throughout the day using targeted exercises, assistive devices, and adaptive strategies.

Brain Injuries from Trauma: After experiencing traumatic brain injuries like concussions or getting knocked unconscious there’s usually lingering effects on an individual’s mental health, balance problems — which can lead to coordination issues — and muscle weakness. Thanks to specialized rehab techniques from physical therapists these personal trainers help sufferers reimplement basic functional abilities while reintegrating themselves into daily life where possible.

Amputations: Newly amputated individuals need considerable help adapting to their situation. However, physical therapists make it a goal to get them back on track as soon as possible by teaching them the best way to use prosthetic limbs and showing them how far they can push themselves in terms of coordination and balance without feeling pain.

Why Rehabilitation Facilities Should Take a Multidisciplinary Approach?

The entire rehab process is amazingly complex and typically requires assistance from multiple health experts. Physical therapists work closely with different specialists such as occupational, speech, and psychological therapists to ensure that every single aspect of an individual’s journey is covered. By taking this approach patients can expect better outcomes which will then lead to an improved quality of life.

Final Words

In conclusion, physical therapists work with all kinds of patients. Each patient has their unique needs and challenges. For an aspiring therapist to be good at their job, they must understand these differences.

Physical therapists deal with a wide range of people. Starting from babies and ending with seniors. Some have muskuloskeletal injuries, neurological disorders or chronic pain. Others, play sports and are recovering from an injury. Furthermore, there are those who are rehabilitating after surgery.

The better the understanding of what each population needs, the better a professional can cater his treatment towards them.

Gaining clinical experience is encouraged for young physical therapists since it helps them learn how different bodies function. By working on numerous patients they will develop more than just practical skills, but also knowledge.

To sum up things up: Physical therapists work on different people that require unique treatments and care plans.


"Hasan", I am a physiotherapy Doctor. I have completed my B.S.c course (4 years) under Rajshahi University, Faculty of Medicine, Rajshahi. Currently I am working as a clinical physiotherapist at a renowned physiotherapy center and I am continuing my MPT (Master's of physiotherapy) degree at CRP, Savar.

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