Physical Therapists and Your Care
Physical therapists (PTs) are licensed health care providers who utilize evidence from research studies and proven techniques from clinical experience to help people improve their mobility and function.
Today all physical therapists are required to receive a graduate entry level physical therapy degree. In 2015, all PTs who graduate in the United States from an accredited program will receive a clinical doctorate. Graduating from an accredited program is a requirement to take the national licensure exam, and a passing score on this exam is necessary to obtain a license to practice physical therapy. PTs are trusted health care professionals with extensive clinical education and experience who examine, diagnose, and then prevent or treat conditions that limit the body's ability to move and function in daily life, work and/or sport.
Physical therapy likely originated from very early physicians that recognized the benefit of manual therapy and exercise. In the United States, physicians recruited people with physical education backgrounds to use exercise and massage to treat patients with Polio and injuries from the First World War.
Physical therapy became institutionalized in 1918. The first school of physical therapy was established at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC. and a professional organization was formed (now the American Physical Therapy Association or APTA). In 1974, the first specialty group was formed to address unique practice needs and focused in the area of orthopedics. Now the APTA has 18 specialty sections; acute care, aquatics, private practice, pediatrics, orthopedics, research, cardiovascular and pulmonary, electrophysiology and wound management, education, federal, geriatrics, hand, health policy and administration, home health, neurology, oncology, sports, and women's health.
Sports physical therapists treat people who have sustained an injury while playing sports or have pain or impairments that prevent them from participating in their desired sport. Sports physical therapists have extra training and education in sport-related biomechanics, performance training, on field emergencies, injuries, and psychology.
Many of the PTs who work as part of the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation program hold extra certifications, which demonstrates advanced and specialized training. These include board certified sports clinical specialists, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning specialists, certified bike fitters, certified pilates providers, certified pitching coaches, certified Titliest performance institute providers, and performance enhancement specialists.
The department also offers several specialty clinics: runners clinic, cyclists clinic, golfers clinic, swimmers clinic, sports concussion rehab clinic, and dancers clinic. The department also has a sports residency program to offer PT graduates additional training in preparation for a career in sports physical therapy.
UW Health offers Direct Access to PTs without the need of a physician referral. To schedule an appointment at any of our locations, please call (608) 263-4765.