Real Life PT Heroes

In Physical Therapy, Therapist's Thoughts by Advance TherapyLeave a Comment

by Brian Allred
My wife and I recently watched all of the Marvel movies now that they are on Disney+. I might be a little biased, but I realized that the REAL hero in Dr. Strange was the physical therapist at the beginning of the movie. He’s the one who gave Stephen Strange an inspirational pep talk and then gave him the contact information of another patient who in turn, told Dr. Strange where to go to learn all of his world-saving powers. (By the way, giving out another patient’s information is VERY illegal and that wouldn’t really happen.) It got me thinking that “movie physical therapy” isn’t really accurate. I guess I can’t be too picky about a movie that also involves time travel and magic capes.

If you were to walk into a physical therapy clinic in a movie, you could expect to see dozens of patients who either survived a bad car accident or tore their ACL in the big game. They would all be walking in the parallel bars in a montage of exciting and inspirational music. And that’s probably because most people don’t really understand what we do.

In a real, non-movie physical therapy clinic, there is a lot more variety (thank goodness) to the patients you would see. We do see the occasional victim of a car accident, but we see pretty much everything that will limit someone’s movement. That can include surgeries, good old-fashioned pain, ACL tears, brain injuries, weakness, tight muscles and even vertigo.

The scope of what we, mere-mortal, non-movie PTs can treat is vast! One of the hardest things with the profession is that most people with treatable problems don’t know that they are treatable. Often, I will look out the window and see someone limping towards the front door, but as I am thinking about how I’m going to treat them, they turn and head into the nail salon instead. It makes me want to run out and yell, “Hey, gimpy! Come in here and fix your broken self!” Physical therapists may not save the world or give pep talks to those who do, but we certainly can help save one patient at a time whose world has turned lopsided by pain.

Fun note: After I wrote this, one of my physical therapy blogs mentioned Rated PT ( It’s a blog about physical therapy in movies and on TV.

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