Medical specialty treating chronic disabilities through physical means to help patients return to a comfortable, productive life despite a medical problem. Its objectives are pain relief, functional improvement or maintenance, training in essential activities, and functional testing of areas such as strength, mobility, breathing capacity, and coordination. Physical medicine may use diathermy, hydrotherapy, massage, exercise, and functional training. The last can mean learning to work with a guide dog or a prosthesis or learning new ways to carry out everyday activities with a limb missing, sometimes by using assistive devices. Physician specialists head rehabilitation teams including a physical therapist, rehabilitation engineer, rehabilitation nurse, psychological counselor, and sometimes a respiratory or speech therapist. Seealso occupational therapy; orthopedics.
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Training in physical fitness and in skills requiring or promoting it. In the U.S. it is required in most primary and secondary schools. It generally includes calisthenics, gymnastics, various sports, and some study of health. College majors in physical education have been available since the early 20th century. Most teaching is done in gymnasiums, though outdoor sports are also emphasized.
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