Physical therapy (PT, also called physiotherapy) is a health care specialty involved with evaluating, diagnosing, and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Common ailments in PT include back and neck pain, arthritis, heart and stroke rehabilitation, long-term breathing problems, and incontinence. The ultimate goal is to restore maximal functional independence to each individual patient. Physical therapists evaluate, diagnose, and manage the physical therapy treatment plan, customizing it to each individual's needs.
PT and occupational therapy (OT) are similar, except that OT also focuses on lifestyle changes and managing a client's health through non-physical means, while PT focuses more on curing the actual injury and preventing re-injury. Rehabilitation science is the general term for both PT and OT, and some schools use this term instead.
PT is a branch of kinesiology and rehabilitation sciences, and is similar to physical medicine and rehabilitation and OT. It is also related to orthopedics, sports studies, and biomedical engineering.