By Sara Murray, DPT
October is Physical Therapy month!
Here at Tulsa Bone & Joint, we currently have 24 PTs and 11 PTAs across 5 different locations, all working hard to provide excellent patient care and get people back to living their lives to the fullest. They have a wide range of experience and backgrounds, ranging from 25+ years to new graduates. Our therapists use a variety of adjunctive techniques, including ASTYM, dry needling, and manual therapy.
Below are some FAQs about physical therapy to help you have a better understanding of the profession.
What is physical therapy, and what does a physical therapist do? PTs are movement specialists. We are trained to assess your movement, strength, and functional ability. We provide evidence based care through exercises, hands-on techniques, and patient education. We evaluate patients and create a plan of care based on the person’s impairments and functional limitations. We strive to restore movement, strengthen weak muscles, improve mobility, and manage pain.
How long do you have to go to school to become a physical therapist? PT school is currently 3 years, and you receive a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, DPT, upon completion. In order to apply for PT school, you are required to have a Bachelor’s degree, take the GRE, complete observation hours, and complete all prerequisite courses. After graduating from an accredited university, you must pass a state licensure exam in order to receive a PT license to practice in your state of choice.
What is the difference between a PT and a PTA? A PT is a physical therapist, and a PTA is a physical therapist assistant. A PT will evaluate you, but both PTs and PTAs are capable of carrying out the plan of care in subsequent visits. PTAs complete 2 years of schooling and are skilled in choosing appropriate exercises and manual techniques that are best for you as the patient, all under the supervision of your PT.
What type of settings can I work in as a physical therapist? There are multiple settings and specialties available to you after graduation. The most common PT settings are outpatient, acute/hospital, inpatient, and home health.
Do I need to see a doctor before starting physical therapy? No! Oklahoma has a limited form of direct access, which means you can be seen by a physical therapist without a referral. However, this is limited to 30 days, and after that time, you will need a referral from a doctor in order to continue with physical therapy.
What should I expect during a physical therapy session? Your first session is typically an evaluation, where the physical therapist will ask you questions, take objective measurements, and assess for impairments. Your physical therapist will also give you a home exercise program with exercises and stretches to get you started on your road to recovery. They may also use manual techniques including joint mobilization and therapeutic massage to address your pain. Subsequent visits will include treatments and techniques based on your specific impairments and what you and your physical therapist discuss during the evaluation.