6 Health Conditions Helped by Physical Therapy

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Chris Illiades, MD on October 23, 2020
  • female-patient-receiving-physical-therapy
    PT: A Vital Part of Living With Chronic Conditions
    If you have a long-term (chronic) health condition, you might benefit from physical therapy (PT). PT is part of the treatment plan for many conditions. It's especially helpful for conditions that make it hard for you to enjoy day-to-day activities. PT can help ease pain and make it easier for you to get around and stay active. This can help you stay independent. In turn, that can improve your quality of life. Here's how PT can help with six specific medical issues.
  • Ischemic stroke
    1. Stroke
    Most people who've had a stroke need some type of rehabilitation therapy. PT is often part of that rehab. PT may start a few days after a stroke. It might continue for years or even the rest of your life depending on the degree of disability. PT might start with your physical therapist moving a paralyzed limb for you. You may learn ways to use limbs affected by the stroke. Over time, your PT program could include exercises to help you get stronger and have better balance.
  • elderly-woman-holding-cane-accompanied-by-nurse
    2. Parkinson’s Disease
    Parkinson's is a disease that causes stiffness and slowed motion. Loss of movement can have a big effect on your quality of life. But, having a physical therapist on your treatment team could help you in many ways. The therapist can tailor a daily exercise routine to your abilities. PT can help you keep moving. It can help you maintain balance and stay fit. That's important for preventing falls. PT may also reduce your pain and improve your energy level.
  • General Practitioner examining patients hand
    3. Arthritis
    Joint pain from arthritis can make it hard to stay fit and active. That makes you more likely to develop other chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes. A PT plan for someone with arthritis might include exercises to increase flexibility. You'll make the muscles around your joints stronger, which makes it easier to move. Body awareness exercises might be part of the program, too. They help improve balance and coordination. Benefits of PT for arthritis? Less pain. More energy. Better sleep.
  • woman-receiving-physical-therapy
    4. Multiple Sclerosis
    PT is an important part of treatment for some people with multiple sclerosis (MS). It works best for those who have muscle weakness or muscle spasms. If you have the common problem of MS fatigue, a physical therapist can develop an exercise program tailored just for you. This can help because exercise often improves fatigue. Other MS symptoms also may improve with PT. These include pain, trouble walking, and problems with bowel or bladder control.
  • close up of black male touching heart
    5. Heart Disease
    Recovery from a heart attack, heart failure, or heart surgery includes cardiac rehabilitation therapy. PT is a key part of that. Making your heart work a little harder is important. It helps your heart heal and get stronger. A physical therapist can show you exercises that are good for your heart. The therapist will also make sure you're exercising safely. You'll also learn about healthy lifestyle choices and reducing stress.
  • group-of-female-patients-doing-breathing-exercises
    6. COPD
    If you have COPD, you'll benefit from a pulmonary rehabilitation program. PT is an important part of such a program. Your physical therapist will design an exercise plan that's safe for you. PT can help you strengthen the muscles you need for breathing. It will increase your endurance. This will let you be more active. You may learn breathing exercises. The therapist can also show you ways to conserve your energy.
6 Health Conditions Helped by Physical Therapy

About The Author

  1. Role of Physical Therapist. American Physical Therapy Association. http://www.apta.org/PTCareers/RoleofaPT/
  2. Post-Stroke Rehabilitation. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://stroke.nih.gov/materials/rehabilitation.htm
  3. Complementary Therapies. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. http://www.pdf.org/en/comp_therapies
  4. Exercise and Arthritis. American College of Rheumatology. http://www.pdf.org/en/comp_therapies
  5. Rehabilitation. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Treating-MS/Rehabilitation
  6. What Is Cardiac Rehabilitation? American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/CardiacRehab/What-is-Cardiac-Rehabilitation_UCM_307049...
  7. Pulmonary Rehabilitation. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pulreh#
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 23
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.