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What is the Difference between Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation?

Physical Therapy vs. Rehabilitation

People often confuse physical therapy and rehabilitation, yet they both actually are very different. So, one of the most common questions that arises is: “What is the Difference between Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation?”

Now, just to be clear, physical therapy is a smaller but essential part of rehabilitation. However, there’s more that sets them apart. Understanding the difference between these two can help you navigate your healthcare journey better. Let’s dive deeper into the matter.

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What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a type of healthcare that helps people function and feel better when they have gone through an injury. It mainly includes exercise and stretching, with a special plan made for the person seeking help. Moreover, this plan is deduced by a physical therapist.

What do Physical Therapists Do?

Physical therapists are experts in the field of physical therapy and are responsible for helping a person recover from injury by helping them move better. They look at how your body moves after an injury and figure out what you need to do to allow recovery faster. Thus, they might give you exercises to do or even use their hands to help your muscles and joints feel better.

Why Might You Need Physical Therapy?

You might need physical therapy if you have trouble moving because of an injury, surgery, or illness. It could be a minor mishap, such as a sprained ankle from playing sports, as well as a major surgery that takes away your ability to walk. Moreover, physical therapy is also known to help with muscle pain or aching joints.

Also Read: A Brief Overview of Interventional Pain Management

What Happens During Physical Therapy?

When you go in for physical therapy, the therapist begins by asking you routine questions about the injury as well as how you feel and what you can and can’t do for the time being. They keep an eye on how you move and see what might be causing the problem in your body to pinpoint the issue at hand. Then, they’ll come up with a plan catered to your needs to help you get better.

Sometimes, the therapist might use special tools or machines to help you, such as ice packs or small machines that send gentle vibrations to your muscles.

Where Can You Get Physical Therapy?

You can get physical therapy in a number of places. It could be at a hospital, a clinic, or even at home if the therapist comes to visit you. They’ll make sure you’re comfortable and have everything you need to do your exercises. If you wish to get the best-personalized exercise regimens, then visit Jersey Joint, Spine, & Regen today!

How Long Does Physical Therapy Last?

The length of physical therapy treatment depends on the problem at hand and how well you are recovering from it. Some people might only need a few sessions, while others might need to go for several weeks or even months.

Remember, physical therapy is all about helping you feel better and move better. Your therapist is there to support you every step of the way and cheer you on as you get stronger and healthier!

What is Rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation, on the other hand, is a broader term that consists of a range of services to help someone get better after they’ve had an injury, surgery, or a long-term health problem.  Moreover, it is not just about fixing the body movement; it’s also about helping a person mentally deal with emotions. While physical therapy is one of the main parts of rehabilitation, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and mental health counseling play an equal role.

Who Helps with Rehabilitation?

Lots of people can help with rehabilitation. Including but not limited to doctors, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and more. Even though they all have different roles, they work together to make sure you get the help you need. For example, a professional physical therapist might help you with exercises to help with movement, while an occupational therapist might help you relearn how to do everyday tasks like cooking or getting dressed.

What Happens During Rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation is a journey with different stops along the way. First, you’ll meet with a healthcare team who will figure out what kind of help you need and make a detailed plan for you. This plan might include exercises, therapy sessions, or even special equipment to help you recover under a certain time span.

Where Does Rehabilitation Happen?

Rehabilitation can be arranged in lots of different places, depending on what you need. You might go to a hospital if you’re recovering from surgery, or you could visit a special rehab center where they have all the equipment and experts you need. Some people even do rehabilitation at home with the help of visiting therapists.

Why is Rehabilitation Important?

Rehabilitation is important because it’s about giving people hope, strength, and a path forward after facing tough times. Whether it’s walking, playing sports, or just being independent, rehabilitation offers people the tools and support they need to do the things they enjoy. It’s not always easy, but with hard work, attentive joint care, and the right help, miracles can happen during rehabilitation.

Key Differences Of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation


  • Physical Therapy: It mainly focuses on improving your body’s movement and function. This includes getting stronger and more flexible, as well as reducing pain after an injury or surgery.
  • Rehabilitation: It’s about helping people get back to life after a traumatizing experience. Thus, it includes helping a person think clearly as well as feel better emotionally.

What They Do:

  • Physical Therapy: It uses a physical therapist to help with exercises, stretches, and sometimes special tools to help you move better.
  • Rehabilitation: This consists of working with a group of physical therapists and other experts, such as speech therapists (who help with speaking and swallowing) and occupational therapists (who help with daily tasks like dressing and eating).


  • Physical Therapy: The main goal here is to make your body function smoothly once again. Furthermore, it helps you with goals like walking without pain or being able to lift things again.
  • Rehabilitation: On the other hand, the main goal here is to get back to your normal life after a traumatizing experience, such as an accident or surgery.

Where They Take Place:

  • Physical Therapy: You can receive physical therapy in a clinic, a hospital, or even at home with a therapist’s guidance.
  • Rehabilitation: This can happen in different places too. However, it’s often in a special rehab center where they have all the equipment and experts you might need for consultation.


  • Physical Therapy: Mainly short-term, focusing on getting your body back to functioning.
  • Rehabilitation: Long-term because it’s about getting your whole life back on track. Hence, it might take weeks or even months of hard work.


So, while physical therapy and rehabilitation might seem similar, they’re actually different pieces of the puzzle when it comes to helping people recover from injuries or illnesses. Physical therapy is like the nuts and bolts, fixing up specific parts of the body. Rehabilitation is like the whole car, making sure everything is running smoothly again. Both are important in helping people get back to feeling their best!

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