Physical therapists (PTs) are licensed health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTs examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles. PTs:
-Diagnose and manage movement dysfunction and enhance physical and functional abilities.
-Restore, maintain, and promote not only optimal physical function but optimal wellness and fitness and optimal quality of life as it relates to movement and health.
-Prevent the onset, symptoms, and progression of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities that may result from diseases, disorders, conditions, or injuries.
-Treat conditions of the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and/or integumentary systems.
-Address the negative effects attributable to unique personal and environmental factors as they relate to human performance.
PTs provide care for people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes. State licensure is required in each state in which a PT practices. Source: American Physical Therapy Association [1/1/2020: definition modified]
Additional resources: https://www.apta.org/PTCareers/RoleofaPT/