Back Pain Information for Kids

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy, also known as Physiotherapy (fizz-ee-oo-therapy) is often simply abbreviated to PT. PT first came to the United States following World War I around 1914. At that time, it was primarily used to help rehabilitate soldiers injured in the war.

PT & The Spine Today
The profession has certainly grown! People of all ages rely on PT to help restore them to better health. This includes athletes, injured workers, and children recovering from surgery.

Today PT combines treatments like massage with exercise to help restore spinal health. Massage is one type of "passive modality" (moe-dal-it-tee). Modality means the application of therapy. Passive means the patient does not participate. Simply put, the patient relaxes while the therapist applies a treatment. Examples of passive modalities include heat/cold therapy, ultrasound, and hydrotherapy. Massage is another example of a passive modality.

These modalities should not be the only treatment. Therapeutic exercise is also an important part. Therapeutic exercises are designed to stretch, strengthen, correct posture, and prevent re-injury.

Why PT?
Physical therapy helps the patient return to an active life as quickly as possible. Therapy helps to reduce pain, increase flexibility, range of motion, function, build strength, and correct posture.

PT helps patients after spine surgery treat soft tissue trauma (e.g. muscle sprain), nerve inflammation (swelling), muscle spasms, arthritis, and many other problems.

Therapists also teach patients how their spine works, proper body mechanics (how to safely move!), benefits of good posture, and the importance of physical fitness. Physical fitness is related to injury and disease prevention.

How Do Physical Therapists Know What to Do?
Physical therapists have knowledge about the body and how it moves. They are trained in exercise, and other treatment techniques that can help patients return to their highest level of function. Therapists like to help people.

Usually the doctor will write a prescription (an order) for a course of physical therapy. Included in his/her order are the diagnosis and treatment guidelines for the therapist. After the therapist examines the patient, a treatment plan is designed just for that patient! The plan fits the patient's needs and goals.

The doctor, therapist and patient work together as a team toward wellness!
Updated on: 12/10/09