Is a Doctor of Physical Therapy a Real Doctor?

What do you think of when someone mentions physical therapy? A physical therapist is a trained professional who aids their patient to reduce pain or move in a better manner. So a physical therapy patient can be anyone who has acquired an injury from an accident or even one who suffers from pain from old age. Physical therapy itself consists of various exercises with or without supporting gadgets.

When a patient suffers from such pain or injuries, they tend to go to a hospital first where they get referred to a physical therapist. What many do not know, however, is that you do not even need a referral to a physical therapist in all of the 50 states in America. You can directly go and take physical therapy if you think you need it. Just like medicine, the faster you get therapy for an injury, the faster you heal. They will direct you to a medical doctor if it seems that you require medical attention instead of therapy.

What Exam or Program Does a Physical Therapist Need to Complete?

A physical therapist needs to pass their licensure exam as well as attend a Doctorate of Physiotherapy, short for DPT, program which lasts three years. So if you are still asking yourself, is a doctor of physical therapy a real doctor? The answer is very much in the name of the program, so yes, they are real doctors. You can also see the similarity in the courses that a physical therapist needs to attend, such as physiology, anatomy, neuroscience, cellular histology, and others. Some skills they need to have include communication, treatment planning, and stamina.

In addition to this, as we all know college helps build a strong base for the career path you choose. An undergraduate degree in a medical, nursing, or even science field is possible to lead to a job in the physical therapy department following, a physiotherapy master program. So you see, it does not take a simple change of mind to become a physical therapist. It takes years of studying and training which puts a patient in good and professional hands.

Pros and Cons of Going to a Physical Therapy Doctor

As mentioned before, after acquiring an injury or suffering from pain, if physical therapy is taken and the wound is attended in the beginning stages the time to heal becomes shorter and there are higher chances of recovering fully. This of course depends on the severity of the injury. Exercising and trying to heal by yourself without professional advice can worsen your pain which eventually will take you longer to heal. With a professional guiding you and treating you to heal, there are close to zero risks of hurting yourself.

The cost and availability are issues heavily depending on which country or state you live in. A way to plan around the cost is to check if your insurance plan can cover the bill or if you must pay out of pocket. You can also call the physical therapy clinic. Most insurance plans cover these treatments.

How Early Should You Visit a Physical Therapist?

When you get sick, what do you do? See a doctor as soon as possible and get proper treatment or medicine. Think of this the same way. When getting an injury and referred to a physical therapist, do not wait around thinking it is just some exercise that you can easily do at home. Wrong move. A physical therapist knows which areas to target and how when listing the exercises you need. They also know which moves you cannot do at home alone, hence will only make you do those workout regimes under professional guidance. One incorrect posture over a course of time can harm you a lot.

It will cost you heavily if you wait after an injury. The longer you wait, the longer it will take you to heal even with professional help. You will only have yourself to blame. The faster you start the healing process it gets easier for both you as a patient and your physical therapist. It is better to start early both in terms of healing time and chances of healing itself.

With this let us get into some frequently asked questions when it comes to physical therapy.


How long will it take me to heal with physical therapy?

There is no certain answer for this. When you go to a physical therapist and diagnose your injuries and their scale, they can give you a rough estimate of the time needed to heal.

Will my insurance cover the cost?

You can always call up both the clinic and the physical therapy center to ask. Most insurance plans do cover the cost of physical therapy, however, just to stay on the safe side, double-check before you land an appointment.

Can I continue my daily workout routine?

Only our physical therapist who knows the depth of your pain or injuries can answer that. Be honest about your pain areas and scale and ask this while diagnosis. If your therapist advises you not to, do not sneak in your daily workout routine. Remember that the physical therapist only wants what is best for your health and will advise you accordingly.

How many sessions of physical therapy will I need?

This can only be deduced by the physical therapist who has had a look at the issue and knows the severity of it. The sessions can take place over months to even years. On average, patients can get one or two sessions weekly.

With all these questions cleared up, we are close to the end.

Final Verdict

It is rather unfortunate when physical therapists are not considered as real doctors, when in fact they must go through intense training, examination, and other programs to reach the stage of taking it as a profession.

They chose this path for us, to help us recover from pain and injuries yet here we are demeaning them. What are real doctors anyway? Just those who check up on the eyes, skin, heart, and other parts of our body? And when it comes to the movement of the body as a whole? Should we not give them the credit that they deserve?

When physical therapists complete their DPT program, they earn the Dr title. I think is unfair to ignore and take this hard-earned title away from them. It takes a lot of study, practice, time, effort, and focus to achieve such a degree and be in a profession where they have to take people’s lives into their very own hands.

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