Physical Therapy

Medical Reviewers: Dr. Jessica Magee PT, DPT, ATC, LAT ; Caroline Ubben, DPT; Katy Bowen, PT, DPT, NCS
Last Updated: July 12, 2021

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy (PT), also known as physiotherapy, is a form of rehabilitation that incorporates different techniques and procedures to help patients regain their motion and function, and reach their goals of being independent again.

Physical therapists at Brooks Rehabilitation specialize in the rehabilitation of injuries that disrupt the normal movement pattern, and facilitate recovery through optimizing range of motion and strength through tailored exercises and manual therapy intervention. Additionally, our physical therapists provide patients with education to aid them in establishing a regular exercise routine for lifelong health and wellness. The overall goal is to reinstate a patient’s independence and allow one to move safely and efficiently.

Unique to physiotherapists at Brooks is the residency and fellowship training that they take, making them some of the most highly trained clinicians you could see. Brooks offers inpatient physical therapy and outpatient physical therapy services.

Types of physical therapy

There are many types of physical therapy based around things like a patient’s age, their physical needs, and their individual goals. Here are the most common types treated at Brooks.

Pediatric physical therapy

Pediatric physical therapy is a specialty area that works with children, from newborns up to the age of 21. Physical therapy with children demands a high degree of creativity as you need a scientific knowledge to develop purposeful intervention, but also the imagination to bring that intervention to life in the eyes of the child.

Within this concentration, physical therapy could focus on anything from orthopedic injuries to developmental delays, neurological conditions and anything in-between. Pediatric physiotherapists specialize in conditions that affect this population in order to provide the most appropriate and effective physical therapy.

Geriatric physical therapy

The specialty of geriatric physical therapy is focused on conditions that primarily affect the aging population. Our geriatric physical therapy treatment will focus on maximizing your functional abilities by addressing your specific conditions and needs. We often focus on strength, balance and endurance to help you move better and feel more confident as you age. Additionally, we work on joint replacements and issues stemming from memory loss.

Aging adults experience age-related and condition-related changes. Our trained clinicians will create a personalized program to maximize the benefits you can receive from our rehabilitation services. Physical therapists with a specialty in geriatric PT at Brooks may partner with patients living at University Crossing or other assisted living facilities, but other geriatric patients are seen in the outpatient clinic.

Balance and vestibular physical therapy

If you are dizzy and/or off balance, you may have a dysfunction of your inner ear, also known as your vestibular system. The vestibular system is the sensory system in the human body that involves vision and the inner ear. It plays an important role in your balance and coordination of your head and eye movement. The vestibular system greatly affects balance, so vestibular physical therapy specifically addresses balance issues caused by this system. Some of these issues include vertigo, a car accident that knocks this system out of alignment and dizziness.

Vestibular physiotherapists specialize in treatment of these issues. The goal of vestibular rehab is to retrain the brain to better process and organize information from the inner ear, helping understand its “new normal” after a dysfunction of the system occurs. This process involves repetitive stimulation of the inner ear via movement to help the brain utilize the remaining information from the inner ear more effectively. As your brain becomes more efficient at processing information from your inner ear you will notice improvements in your dizziness and imbalance.

Orthopedic physical therapy

Orthopedic physical therapy is a larger branch of physical therapy that involves rehabilitation of anything related to joints, bones, ligaments, and muscles. An orthopedic physical therapist utilizes a combination of therapeutic interventions to improve function by targeting joint mobility, muscle strength and performance, motor control, and overall biomechanics to allow for safe movement patterns and reduce risk of re-injury.

Some examples of common treatment techniques are manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, and modalities. We treat a vast array of orthopaedic conditions, including but not limited to neck and back pain, upper and lower extremity injuries, pre and post-surgical management, and even concussion. Sometimes, other specialties may be included under orthopedic physical therapy — for example, pediatric PT can involve orthopedic PT, as well.

Neurological physical therapy

Neurological physical therapy is a specialty that focuses on recovery for stroke, brain injury, and spinal cord injuries. Injuries caused by disease or injury of the nervous system are addressed through neurological PT. Neurologic physical therapy can help individuals with various neurologic conditions that affect their mobility and independence.

We work collaboratively with patients and families to develop individualized plans to meet the needs of our patients, wherever they are in the recovery process. Many of our rehabilitation professionals have completed extensive training, residency programs, and board certifications in the field of neurologic rehabilitation. In addition to our skilled staff, we utilize a variety of equipment best supported by current research to facilitate recovery and increase independence.

Sports physical therapy

Sports Physical Therapy is a specialty within the profession of physical therapy that focuses on the rehabilitation and the return to sport participation of athletes of all ages, genders, and skill levels. In addition to rehabilitation, Sports Physical Therapy works with athletes on injury prevention/risk reduction concerns, and sports performance enhancement.

Sport physical therapy has the very specific end-goal of returning an athlete to their sport after an injury. Techniques used in sports PT may be similar to those in other areas, but the approach to exercise and frequency of training is more performance-based.

Pelvic health physical therapy

Pelvic Health Physical Therapy is performed by therapists specially trained in treating dysfunction of the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles responsible for sexual function, maintaining continence, supporting the pelvic organs, and core stability in both men and women. The goal is to improve the strength and function of the muscles and alleviate pain, weakness, and dysfunction.

Pelvic Health PTs use a variety of treatment techniques including exercise, manual therapy, modalities, and education to treat diagnoses including urinary and fecal incontinence, constipation, pelvic pain, pain during pregnancy and postpartum, and much more.

Oncology physical therapy

Oncology rehabilitation focuses on maximizing function and prolonging independence for those who have been affected by cancer. Patients can benefit from oncology rehabilitation whether they have a history of cancer or they are actively going through cancer treatments. Oncologic rehab therapists focus their interventions on minimizing the effects of cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy or immunotherapy. The overall goal is an individualized treatment plan to help each patient reach their highest level of recovery.

Aquatic physical therapy

Aquatic therapy is great for those who have pain with day to day activities, are unable to exercise on land pain free, or are partial weight-bearing through one of their legs. Due to the buoyancy provided by the water, patients are able to exercise with minimal stress on their joints and strengthen through new ranges of motion. During an aquatic therapy session you will be going through a series of specially formulated exercises under water using different pool equipment to help you work towards your goals and a better quality of life.

What to expect

When you arrive for your first PT visit, you will be evaluated by a physical therapist. This evaluation will include a long discussion about specifics of your injury, pain and anything keeping you from doing what you want to do. It will focus on where you feel your function is at this time, where it was before you experienced a decline, and where you want to be in the future. The therapist will take baseline measurements and discuss the findings of the evaluation with you at that time.

Next, a physical evaluation will take place to look at movement, strength, and coordination. Based on these evaluations, the physiotherapist will develop a plan of care. At times exercises are prescribed at the first appointment, but sometimes only education is warranted and exercises will begin at your first follow up.

Outpatient care with a physical therapist is usually conducted two to three times a week for about an hour, and involves a combination of exercises and hands-on techniques to help patients reach their goals. Exercises at follow up treatment sessions will start off slow and gradually become more difficult as you progress.

What patients do outside of outpatient physical therapy sessions is equally important. Once you are ready, your therapist will prescribe exercises for you to complete at home and work towards a step down program for you to complete independently to maintain your progress over time once you are no longer coming into the clinic. Practicing PT exercises at home helps patients to achieve their goals faster, so personal commitment to at-home work is paramount for successful outcomes.

Benefits of physical therapy

Physical therapy allows patients to get the most out of their daily lives and help get you back to what matters most to you. Physical therapy can improve patients’ mobility, their ability to function and help them to better participate in life after an injury.

Physical therapy can reteach you and your body how to move more efficiently without pain, reteach your body to move after an injury, or help teach your body a movement pattern that it hasn’t learned yet.

Additionally, it can help patients to gain the benefits of an active lifestyle, and help them understand how to prevent future injuries.

The outcomes of physical therapy are always for you to move better, feel stronger, and outgrow the need for us.

Do you need a referral to see a physical therapist?

In the state of Florida, most commercial insurances allow for a physical therapist to begin treatment without the need of a referral from their physician. If a patient requires treatment beyond 30 days, a referral will need to be obtained from the patient’s physician to continue.

Patients with Medicare, or insurances that require authorization, will need to obtain a referral from their physician prior to starting their physical therapy rehabilitation. If a patient is unsure of whether their insurance requires authorization, any of our highly skilled front desk coordinators can answer most of their questions over the phone or in person.

Finding a physical therapist

Brooks Rehabilitation has many outpatient facilities with vast treatment options for physical therapy throughout the greater Jacksonville, Fernandina, St. Augustine, Palm Coast, Daytona, Orlando, and Tampa regions.

To find a location closest to you and your needs, check out our locations page to find where our physical therapy services are offered.

Medical Reviewers

Dr. Jessica Magee PT, DPT, ATC, LAT

Physical Therapist, Women’s Health Program Coordinator - Outpatient Division
Dr. Jessica Magee received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) in 2018 from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. Prior to this, she received her Bachelors of Science, also from the University of North Florida, in 2014 and is a licensed and certified Athletic Trainer. She has been a practicing clinician at the Orange Park location of Brooks Rehabilitation since 2018 and is a graduate of the Brooks Rehabilitation Institute of Higher Learning’s Women’s Health Physical Therapy Residency program. She currently serves as the Women’s Health Program Coordinator for the outpatient division of Brooks Rehabilitation and works as a full time therapist serving the women’s/pelvic health and orthopedic populations. Dr. Magee has been a presenter at the 2021 APTA Combined Sections Meeting and has had multiple abstracts published in the Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy.

Caroline Ubben, DPT

Pediatric Physical Therapist
Caroline Ubben is a pediatric physical therapist with a passion for helping children achieve their full potential and maximize their quality of life. She earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from Duke University in 2017 and a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology from the University of Florida in 2014. She completed a Pediatric Residency at Brooks Rehabilitation in 2018 to further her development in treating pediatric patients. She currently works in outpatient, early intervention and private pediatric settings, treating children from prematurity into adulthood with neurologic, neurodevelopmental and orthopedic diagnoses. Caroline also works as a clinical lab instructor at the University of St. Augustine, where she assists in teaching neurologic and pediatric interventions to future DPT students. She has developed and taught continuing education courses related to lower extremity pediatric injuries and has developed APTA Residency consortium content on lower extremity musculoskeletal conditions.

Katy Bowen, PT, DPT, NCS

Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist, Outpatient Neurologic Program Coordinator
Katy Bowen is a Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist. Additionally, she serves as the Outpatient Neurologic Program Coordinator at Brooks Rehabilitation.
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