In physical therapy, the focus is on the movement of the human body required by the individual to live as functionally independent as possible. Physical therapists promote healing to injured sites and educate patients on posture, body mechanics, and other prevention strategies. Deficits including muscle weakness, decreased muscle activation, impaired balance, and proprioception, and decreased joint mobility are assessed and treated as needed from the person to provide interventions for the patient to return to prior functionality.
Often physicians will refer an individual to physical therapy for conservative treatment of a ligament or tendon tear, muscle strain, or joint sprain before electing to perform surgery. If surgery is indicated, the patient may be referred to physical therapy after the fact to improve any limitations that presented before and after the surgical procedure.