What Determines Physical Therapy’s Success?

If you’ve sustained an injury that hinders the movement of any part of your body, you may need to undergo physical therapy to regain its capacity. Physical therapists measure your progress by assessing the following:

Range of Motion

Most people enter physical therapy to regain mobility lost due to:

  • Muscle strains and sprains
  • Neurological diseases
  • Cardiac episodes
  • Joint stress
  • Incorrect movements

Physical therapists document a patient’s ability to move before therapy begins and compare that with predetermined goals. For example, a patient recovering from hand surgery may be unable to make a fist, indicating a capacity for a full range of motion. Therapy is successful if the patient progresses to a point where it is possible to make a fist without difficulty.


Patients experiencing balance problems may benefit from physical therapy to prevent injuries from falls. Physical therapists first make baseline assessments using various tests. The “Functional Reach Test” measures how far an individual can reach forward while maintaining a standing position. The goal is to remain balanced while stretching the arm to a predetermined point.

The “Berg Balance Test” uses a zero to four scale to rate a patient’s ability to perform routine tasks from both a sitting and standing position. The average of these scores shows the patient’s progress in physical therapy. The test is re-administered until a patient’s average score is 45 or higher, indicating a normal ability to maintain balance.


Physical therapy is useful for increasing physical and functional endurance. For example, exercises that target specific muscles can improve the strength and resistance necessary to perform activities, including walking, weight-lifting, and standing.

The “Six-Minute Walk Test” measures the progress of patients undergoing physical therapy to increase endurance compromised by heart and lung problems. A patient walks for as long as possible — up to six minutes — without shortness of breath or chest pain. Therapy, including various aerobic exercises, helps to increase endurance, which can also determine medication requirements.


Patients undergoing physical therapy for musculoskeletal conditions can provide physical therapists with valuable insight into their progress. A standard self-assessment tool involves a questionnaire that asks patients to assign their pain level a number on a scale of one to ten, with ten indicating unbearable pain. Patients ideally give lower numbers to their discomfort as therapy progresses.

If you require rehabilitation to overcome pain or mobility problems from an accident or medical condition, physical therapy, like physical therapy from Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic, can improve your life’s quality dramatically.