Are Physical Therapists Doctors?

Nov 2, 2022

Physical therapy is a safe and holistic approach to healthcare that can be effective for many different types of patients. However, if you’ve never taken part in physical therapy, you’re bound to have a lot of questions. One of the most common questions focuses on the background of physical therapists and whether or not they’re actual doctors. In this blog, we’re answering this common question and more to help you learn more about physical therapy and how this type of treatment can be effective for many types of patients. 

At Total Physical Therapy, our physical therapy office specializes in a variety of different treatments to help our patients heal and recover. As one of the leading physical therapy offices in Denver, we offer one-on-one access with many of Colorado’s top physical therapists to provide the most comprehensive care possible. We understand that each path to recovery is unique. That’s why we develop personalized treatment plans based on your specific needs. 

In addition to general physical therapy services, our Denver office also offers patients a variety of healthcare services, including dry needling therapy, Kinesio taping, vestibular rehabilitation, and more. Our team also specializes in rehabilitation and recovery, car accident care, and treating sports injuries. 

If you’re experiencing an injury that affects your musculoskeletal system, our evidence-based and effective therapy techniques can speed up your recovery, boost your physical performance, and even improve your overall physical and mental wellness. Physical therapy can also reduce your risk of future injuries. With our proven therapy techniques and dedicated team, Total PT can get you back to the lifestyle you love—sooner than ever. 

What is Physical Therapy?

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), physical therapy is a specific type of healthcare and treatment that involves the evaluation, assessment, and treatment of patients who are working to recover from an injury or illness. Physical therapy is often recommended by your primary care physician to speed up and improve the overall recovery process. Physical therapy can be beneficial for many different types of patients and is commonly included in a comprehensive treatment plan for those recovering from an injury, such as a car accident injury or sports-related injury.

When you enroll in a physical therapy program, your physical therapist will be a licensed healthcare provider (they may or may not have a doctorate, but we will cover this in more detail below). Your physical therapist will work closely with you to provide hands-on, manual therapy that incorporates specific stretches and exercises. 

The program itself will be designed specifically for the healthcare needs of the patient. With time, focus, and dedication to your physical therapy program, these exercises and stretches can encourage your body to heal naturally. Physical therapy can also boost your overall fitness and wellness and help you avoid invasive treatments like surgery or medication. 

Are Physical Therapists Doctors?

This question is not as simple to answer as it might first appear. Whether or not your physical therapist could be called a “doctor” depends on their education and background. To earn the classification of “doctor,” one must hold a Doctoral degree. In the physical therapy world, this is known as a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy). The very first DPT was awarded in 1996, and now, it’s required that a physical therapist earns their Doctoral degree to actively practice as a licensed physical therapist.

However, this wasn’t always the case. As noted, the first DPT degree wasn’t awarded until the mid 1990s. Before then, most physical therapists only earned a Master’s or a Bachelor’s degree. This means that there are still many active physical therapists who do not have a doctorate, and thus, wouldn’t technically be considered doctors. 

So the answer to this common question is that it depends. While working with a physical therapist who earned their Doctoral degree can be advantageous, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a physical therapist who only earned their Master’s isn’t qualified and can’t successfully help in your recovery. It speaks more so to when they earned their degree. If working with a physical therapist who earned their degree is a top priority for you, that information should be easily found on their website. You can also simply ask your physical therapist about their background and education. During your initial evaluation when your physical therapist learns about your healthcare needs, you can use this as an opportunity to learn more about them as well. 

Who Could Benefit from Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy has become such a popular type of treatment, in part, because it works for so many different types of patients. While you may primarily think of physical therapy for patients recovering from a major injury, like in the aftermath of a car accident, this is just the beginning of what physical therapy can do. From chronic pain to major accident recovery, physical therapy is ideal for many different injuries and ailments.

If you think physical therapy could help you get back to full health, you can also talk to your primary care physician. They can help you determine whether or not physical therapy could be an effective option for you. In many cases, they’ll even be able to refer you to an experienced and trusted physical therapist in your area.

If you’re experiencing one of the following health issues, physical therapy could be an effective option for your recovery:

·  Chronic pain throughout the body.

·  Neck pain or stiffness.

·  Sports-related injuries.

·  Car accident injuries.

·  Arthritis.

·  Cardiac rehab.

·  Work-related injuries.

·  Cancer recovery.

·  Joint injuries and limited mobility.

·  Balance or mobility issues.

·  Post-surgical rehabilitation.

·  Muscle sprains and strains. 

Conclusion – Are Physical Therapists Doctors?

If you’re recovering from a car accident, sports-related injury, or you’re simply tired of living with constant pain or poor mobility, you should consider the many benefits of physical therapy. Physical therapists are trained and licensed healthcare providers who are skilled in providing manual therapy to help your body heal naturally.

While most physical therapists these days are doctors, since they’ve earned their Doctorate degree (DPT), some older physical therapists may only have their Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees. This, of course, does not disqualify them from providing safe and effective physical therapy. If you are curious to learn more about the education and background of your physical therapist, that information should be accessible on their website. Of course, it also never hurts to simply ask during your first physical therapy session.

Total Physical Therapy is your choice for effective physical therapy. With our unique approach to treatment, we can speed up and improve your recovery. We offer one-on-one access with some of Denver’s top physical therapists. If you need car accident care, treatment for a sports-related injury, post-surgical treatment, or simply need to finally get relief from chronic pain, our team can help. With an effective, evidence-based, and holistic approach to care, our physical therapy experts offer personalized care for your full health and wellness.

Contact us today or call us at 303-758-5060 to schedule an appointment for your preliminary consultation. Together, let’s get you back to total health.

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Schedule Your Dry Needling Appointment Today

You don’t have to spend another day in pain. Total Physical Therapy is here to help. Get started with your recovery and give us a call at (303) 758-5060 to schedule your preliminary physical therapy appointment. Our doctors will evaluate your therapy needs and determine a specialized treatment plan designed for you. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is available daily throughout the week to offer support and detailed information about how we can treat any of your musculoskeletal injuries.

Schedule your appointment with Total Physical Therapy today.