Physical Therapy Can Increase Functional Mobility

Sep 13, 2023
Functional mobility is how well people can move around (standing, bending, walking and climbing) in the environment in order to participate in the activities of daily living and moving from one place to another.

What Is Functional Mobility And How Does Physical Therapy Help?

Functional mobility is how well people can move around (standing, bending, walking and climbing) in the environment in order to participate in the activities of daily living and moving from one place to another. Movement can also be actions that might not typically be thought of in this context, such as scooting along a bed or getting into and out of a chair. After having a period of injury or trauma, it will be important to work with a physical therapist to ensure your mobility level returns to where it was pre-injury.

Physical therapy is a branch of rehabilitative health that uses specifically designed exercises, equipment, and a treatment plan to help patients regain or improve their physical abilities. Physical therapy can be useful to many different types of patients; infants born with musculoskeletal birth defects, adults with sciatica or other injury/surgery issues, and patients who have had a stroke or other type of trauma. And because physical therapy treatment plans can be tailored and altered to the patient, if you have had any injury or illness that prevents you from leaving the house, a physical therapist can come to you until the time you’re able to leave the house again.

The Three Areas of Functional Mobility

Anywhere you can move around can be considered a physical therapy space for designating levels of functional mobility. There are three main areas of functional mobility that your physical therapist may evaluate.

Functional Bed Mobility

Your ability to move around in bed, including activities like scooting, rolling, or moving from a lying to a sitting position (and vice versa). Your ability to move around in bed may be limited and you may need assistance. This is why you have your physical therapist.

Functional Transfers

The act of moving from one surface to another. You may need assistance when moving from a bed to a chair or when moving from one chair to another.


Your ability to walk. You may require assistance from another person or an assistive device (cane, walker) to walk. Your physical therapist may also perform a gait evaluation to analyze the way you walk and to provide strategies to improve ambulation.

Your Level Of Therapy Needed Depends On The Severity Of Your Injury

Depending on how severe your injury is, you may need different levels of assistance to help with functional mobility. Your physical therapist can help to educate your family members or friends on how to provide assistance for you too, if needed. The different levels of potential assistance needed are listed below.

Completely Physically Dependent

You are unable to help at all. Your physical therapist or another healthcare worker will do all the work

Needing Maximal Assist

Physical therapist does about 75% of the work during mobility, while you do the remaining 25%

Needing Moderate Assist

You perform about half of the work necessary to move and the physical therapist fills in the rest

Needing Minimal Assist

You perform 75% of the work to move while your physical therapist does the other 25%

Contact Guard Assist

Physical therapist only needs to have one or both hands on you to support you while performing the task but doesn’t actually do any assisting.

Stand-By Assist

Physical therapist does nothing to help except to stay close by in case you need to adjust your footing, or you lose your balance

Completely Independent

Every physical therapist dream for their clients. You can perform the functional task with no help and do so safely

Finding a place to do physical therapy where you feel heard and respected will help immensely in the healing process. Here at Manhattan Physical Therapy & Pain Center our goal is to relieve pain & increase mobility, while also making sure that you feel part of the rehabilitation process.

 Ready to Get Started?

Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center is a leader in pain relief and injury recovery, and we look forward to helping you with all your physical therapy goals. Call us at (212) 213-3480 or contact us today to set an appointment.