What Is a Physical Therapist?

Dr. Chris Telesmanic notes that the title of physical therapist “is not an unfamiliar one in our society.”

Though physical therapists “play an integral role in medical systems around the world” defining what a Physical Therapist does “is more difficult than it may seem at first glance.”

Actually looking up a definition doesn’t help much either; results vary from vaguely describing a person who facilitates others capacity to complete daily tasks, to simply helping people move better, to someone who treats “disorders of the human body.” Technically, none of the definitions are incorrect, but nor are they very helpful to someone unfamiliar with the profession and what it has to offer.

For people who know they have pain or injuries, it’s less confusing, this part of the population is often simply referred to a physical therapist, and they learn first hand exactly what it is that physical therapists do. But if the only people accessing care from physical therapists are those who are already injured, then a huge disservice is being perpetrated. This is because treating the healthy segment of the population would make the biggest impact physical therapists could make on our society.

This seems contradictory at first, but in fact, if a physical therapist is anything, they are preventative health specialist. This is not how most of society perceives this profession, and unfortunately, its not even how some physical therapists perceive themselves. But in my opinion, a PT’s capacity to identify a problem before it results in an injury is the most important role we can play.