Frequently Asked Questions

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical Therapists are movement professionals. We specialize in the skilled manipulation of the body’s tissues to restore function and improve performance in virtually any task. It may include mobilization of the joints and muscles, specific exercise training, patient education, or application physical modalities for pain control. We operate in a variety of settings including hospitals, long term care facilities, outpatient clinics, and even people’s homes. There are no age restrictions for participation, making physical therapy accessible for everyone. Physical Therapy is the process by which Physical Therapists
and Patients work together to reach specific functional goals. This can range from as simple as wanting to eliminate low back pain so you can bend down and tie your shoes to as complex as restoring control of a paralyzed limb following a stroke. Generally speaking, Physical Therapy can be broken up in to two broad categories: Restorative and Preventative Care.

What is Restorative Care?

This is what most people think of when they hear physical therapy. Restorative care involves recovery from any condition of the musculoskeletal, nervous, or cardiovascular system resulting in a loss of function – namely not being able to do something now that you could before.

What is Preventative Care?

Preventative Care describes the process of preparing the body to accept the stress and demands of a
new or more strenuous activity without resulting in injury. It is most commonly used in the Sports and Occupational settings to improve performance and keep people on the field or jobsite. In our setting, we also see a lot of people utilizing preventative care to improve balance and reduce the risk of falling as we age. All physical therapy, regardless of whether it is restorative or preventative, will utilize a holistic approach that includes close collaboration with a patient’s entire medical team, including physicians, surgeons, nursing, and other healthcare professionals.

What type of education do Physical Therapists have?

The first physical therapists were nurses working with patients suffering the debilitating effects of the poliomyelitis epidemic of the 1920s and 1930s. At that time, the conventional approach was based on a philosophy that emphasized bed rest over exertion and patience over practice. These first therapists took a novel approach that turned this paradigm on its head: they sought to stimulate the neuromuscular system through specific movements and exercises to slow, and in some cases restore, the physical effects of the disease. Over the following decades, the profession of Physical Therapy continued to develop. What started as a group of innovative nurses soon turned into a professional organization requiring post graduate education and regulation via national licensure. As of 2020, all newly licensed physical therapists will have earned a Doctorate of Physical Therapy as part of their postgraduate education. Some therapists choose to specialize beyond their Doctorate, completing a residency or fellowship much the same way a medical doctor specializes in Cardiology, Orthopedics, Internal Medicine, and so on.

What do the initials after a therapist’s name mean?

The initials after a therapist’s name will denote their level of education and specialization. Here are some of the most common to look for:
PTA = Physical Therapist Assistant
PT = Physical Therapist
DPT = Doctor of Physical Therapy
OCS = Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
CHT = Certified Hand Therapist
FAAOMPT = Fellowship of American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Do I need a referral from my doctor to receive Physical Therapy?

It depends. In California, Physical Therapists are licensed to see patients without a referral. This is
called Direct Access and reflects our ability to accurately diagnose and differentiate between conditions that are both within and outside of our scope of practice. However, some insurances continue to require a physician’s referral to cover the costs of physical therapy. Generally speaking, if you have a PPO you are entitled to Direct Access care for 6 weeks or 12 visits, whichever happens first. If you have an HMO or government funded insurance, a referral is required before your first visit.

When is a good time to start Physical Therapy?
Physical Therapy is appropriate at any time. Whether you’re looking to prevent injury, restore function,
or manage chronic pain, physical therapy can help you accomplish your healthcare goals. At MJ Physical
Therapy, our mission is to enhance quality of life through a comprehensive approach to physical
therapy, with a focus on manual treatment and movement re-education to promote carefully tailored treatments to your specific condition and goals. Reach out, and see how we can help you today.

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