Physical Therapy

UW-Madison DPT students in clinic.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) describes the vision for the physical therapy profession as “Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.” Physical therapists diagnose and treat people of all ages who have medical problems and other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.

PTs examine individuals and develop treatment plans 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. Physical therapists 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. (Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, 2nd Edition, 2003)