Physical Therapy

Being an active participant in art therapy means that you need to be physically capable of holding a drawing utensil.

Though art therapy is not a substitute for physical therapy, it can be used in conjunction to improve your physical capability while simultaneously improving your emotional well-being. The two can be used together, for example, when an art therapist instructs a patient to mold clay with their hands, or hold a paintbrush or pencil. Making art involves physical exertion, and there are plenty of opportunities for art and physical therapists to work together to promote overall health.

Physical therapy is mainly concerned with improving impairments and disabilities that cause limited mobility, function, and affect quality of life. Therapists work with patients in a wide range of ages, who have experienced any of these symptoms from a variety of illnesses or disorders. The therapist establishes a series of goals for the patient to work towards while improving their symptoms. The improvement is done using exercises, manual therapy, and other interventions individually tailored to the problem you are experiencing.


Like art therapy, physical therapy can be administered in a variety of settings. Depending on the kind of therapy needed, physical therapists can work in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, schools, private homes, or fitness centers, among many others. Therapists are usually trained in a subspecialty to more specifically treat the target population they are working with.

These subspecialties include:

  • Orthopedic
  • Geriatric
  • Pediatric
  • Sports
  • Women’s Health

There are ongoing studies looking at whether or not art therapy can significantly reduce pain in patients with physical illnesses. Some research has shown that cancer patients who received art therapy experienced less pain than those who did not. If these results hold up in a number of studies, which still needs to be determined, there would be a very clear connection between art and the physical body, linking it even closer with physical therapy.

One of the ways art therapy could work in conjunction with physical therapy is with patients suffering from neurological disorders. Patients who have had strokes, ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s, among others, would benefit from treatment of both kinds. Physical therapists work with these patients to improve problems with vision, balance, movement, and muscle strength. Art therapists could work with them to help them through the frustrations of neurological impairment, while also having them use their hands to physically create something. Creating art is a physical, manual process. These patients would benefit from both types of therapy improving their quality of life physically and emotionally.

If you are experiencing pain in your hands that would prevent you from being able to actively participate in art therapy, a physical therapist may be able to help.  Once your medical doctor has diagnosed your condition, a physical therapist can work with you to improve pain levels and return function to your hands. In New Jersey, there are many experienced physical therapists available to help you restore function to your hands and other parts of your body.

Practices we recommend:

University Orthopaedic Associates is one of the largest orthopedic practices in NJ, also providing physical therapy, with three locations. They have a rich history of both physical therapy and orthopedic care and are up-to-date with the latest technological and surgical innovations.

In Northern New Jersey, we recommend the hand specialist Michael Horowitz of The Center for Hand Disorders in Bergen County.  He is a highly trained specialist able to treat most disorders of the hand.