First of all, Happy National Physical Therapy Month! 

My name is Kimara, and I am one of the physical therapists at Stevens Point Orthopedics. As a practicing physical therapist, I am blessed to work in a healthcare profession where patients become family.

Physical therapy means something different for everyone, whether they’re therapists or patients. Here are six fascinating facts about the physical-therapy profession and what we do as physical therapists.

1. Many of today’s physical-therapy techniques are thousands of years old.

Many physical-therapy techniques date back as far as 400 B.C. Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen are believed to be among the first advocates of massage and hydrotherapy.

These techniques aren’t all Greek to us, however; ancient writings from Persia, China, and Egypt describe the benefits of exercise, movement, and massage for ailments.

2. Physical therapy comes in many forms.

While it’s easy to call all physical therapists “physical therapists,” this is inaccurate and often misrepresents their specialties.

Like other healthcare forms, physical therapy deals with a variety of injuries and body parts and comes in many forms, including orthopedic, acute care, post-operative care, cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation, lymphedema management, wound care, and neurologic rehabilitation therapy.

There’s also pediatric physical therapy and occupational therapy.

3. Physical therapists can treat vertigo.

Have you ever stood up from a chair and briefly experienced dizziness? These brief bouts of dizziness, called positional vertigo, result from a change in position or movement – and they’re one of many things physical therapy can treat.

Positional vertigo is caused by a dysfunction of the vestibular system in the inner ear, and one session with a physical can successfully treat the annoying sensation.

(If you have positional vertigo, note: I’m Vestibular Rehabilitation & Concussion Certified.)

4. Physical therapy can save patients money.

According to the Health Service Research Journal, patients who sought physical therapy for their lower back pain saw an average 72% decrease in costs the first year compared to those who didn’t seek treatment.

Another study by the University of Pittsburgh found that patients who received physical therapy and those who underwent spinal surgery had the same ending recovery levels. However, the physical-therapy patients spent roughly half as much as the patients who had surgery.

5. Physical therapy ranks among the top 10 “happiest jobs.”

According to Forbes, physical therapy is one of the “happiest” occupations, based on median salary, job flexibility, and projected job growth (39% between 2010 and 2020). The ability to care for others is another reason physical therapists are especially satisfied with their occupation.

While a career in physical therapy offers many benefits, it’s not a decision someone should take lightly. If you’re pursuing a physical therapy career, figure on about seven years of school to receive a doctorate. You can also expect courses to be about 80% classroom-based learning and 20% hands-on learning.

6. Physical therapy began as a female-only profession – you go girls!

The very first professional physical-therapy association, the American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association, formed in 1921 in response to WWI. It began as a female-only profession with 274 members and was often referred to as a “women’s health” profession.

Not more than a year passed before men began to join and the name changed to the American Physiotherapy Association. Today the organization is called the American Physical Therapy Association and has more than 100,000 members, including physical therapists, assistants, and students.

I hope you enjoyed these fun facts about physical therapy … and Happy National Physical Therapy Month!