"Movement is a key to optimal living and quality of life for all people that extends beyond health to every person's ability to participate in and contribute to society (American Physical Therapy Association)." 


Physical therapy can help with a range of conditions, including arthritis, back pain, fitness, knee pain, obesity, osteoporosis, overuse injuries, shoulder pain, stroke, sprains/strains/fractures, and much more. Physical therapy can even be an alternative to pain medication and potentially to surgery as well. 

WHAT are the pros and cons of physical therapy?

PROS: Physical therapy can help individuals avoid surgery, decrease pain, learn to walk after an injury, get stronger, gain motion, and return to prior work, home, and recreational activities.

CONS: Physical therapy costs money. Fortunately, health insurance companies usually cover some or all of the cost of therapy. It is important to note that physical therapy is an active process that involves effort by both the physical therapist and the client and requires time. 


Your first visit will be an initial evaluation during which the physical therapist learns about your current condition through questions and examination. During this hour long evaluation your physical therapist will likely take measurements of your motion and strength as well as ask you to move in specific ways. The visits following the initial evaluation are treatment sessions that last for about 45 minutes. Each treatment plan is individualized and may involve stretches, exercises, modalities, or manual therapy techniques to improve flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and balance. Clients are usually given a home exercise program to promote healing.

How long can i attend physical therapy?

Each insurance company has different rules governing how many physical therapy visits are covered. The physician will often prescribe a certain number of visits when providing a referral to physical therapy. However, a client is discharged from physical therapy once they have met their goals and are independent in their home exercise program. The physical therapist and physician communicate regularly regarding a client's status and progress. The length of time and number of visits that a client can expect largely depends on their condition, but may range from 4-12 visits for a period of 2-6 weeks or longer.

Who are physical therapists?

A physical therapist, or “PT”, is a healthcare professional who is trained to diagnose and treat illnesses, injuries, or other medical problems that limit an individual from moving and performing desired functional and daily activities. PT’s can help individuals of any age, from newborns to elderly adults, restore and maximize mobility by managing several of the body’s systems: musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular/pulmonary, and integumentary (skin).

How much training do physical therapists have?

The current education path for a physical therapist includes a bachelor’s degree (usually four years of school), followed by a three year doctorate degree. Passing the national licensure examination is required after graduation to practice as a licensed physical therapist. Each physical therapist is held to a standard of care and a code of ethics, diminishing differences in levels of care. After obtaining their degree and license, a physical therapist may choose to complete a residency, fellowship, or specialty certification in a specific area, such as geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, aquatic therapy, manual therapy, etc.


Every individual has the right to request a referral to physical therapy from their health care provider. Each client also has the freedom to choose which physical therapy practice they attend. Alaska allows clients to have “direct access” to physical therapy, meaning that an individual can attend physical therapy without a script from their health care provider. However, insurance company coverage of physical therapy visits varies especially if a client chooses the direct access route. It is highly recommended that a client calls their insurance company regarding their physical therapy coverage.