Physicians may prescribe a course of physical therapy to rehabilitate a painful or poorly functioning area or system. This is done mainly through passive and active means. Modalities such as heat, ice, electrical stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, massage, and lymphatic drainage are passive, meaning that the patient does not exert any effort during these portions of the treatment.
Exercises may also be passive, such as having a therapist stretch a patient throughout his/her range of motion. Active exercises include self-stretching, strengthening, conditioning, posturing, and gait training.