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What Are Health and Wellness?

Written by Teo Buzas, PT, DPT


If health is just the absence of disease, the medical profession is the one that can declare an individual healthy.

What Is Health?

What about how an individual feels about his/her state of health? Health is more than the absence of disease. Health is more than just being pain-free. The World Health Organization defines health as, “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”


I should go to the doctor, but…

Some people display symptoms of a disease but do not feel ill. What about others who have no symptoms and are free of disease yet feel ill and do not function well? Should you just seek professional help when you are sick? That is not health care. That is disease care.


What about preventative measures? What about reversing chronic disease?

So, we see that the presence of a disease does not take away an individual’s access to health. Those with and without disease can strive for a better state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. For those with the disease, you can simultaneously work on alleviating or reversing the disease and establish a state of wellbeing within oneself and the environment.

Within the presence of disease, this goes beyond treating the symptoms of pain (Read “What Is Pain?) and disease. It explores how individuals feel about themselves and disease, what they believe about disease and themselves, how it influences their lives, and how they would like to best improve their health.


Health does not stop at alleviating diseases and treating problems.

It involves the individual whose health is to be pursued. Look for, but also beyond, risk factors that may lead to disease. Look at the other lifestyle areas of an individual’s life:

Consider how you would rate these multiple areas (0-10)?

Look at an individual’s needs, wants, goals, desires, etc.:

How this applies to physical therapy and health is important.


The focus should be on what people can do to empower themselves to participate in life’s valued activities. No one empowers anyone else. People must be the ones who discover, claim, and boldly stand by their own power. What physical therapists can do is to create a climate that encourages clients to be powerful. Illness focuses on pain and pathology. Wellness looks at pain, movement, thoughts, beliefs, activity levels/exercise, purpose, social engagement, goals, etc.


At Bridging the Gap Physical Therapy, we are here for you. We offer full body evaluations and discuss your treatment plan. This includes your diagnosis, your goals, and the plan for getting you there. Find out more by speaking to our team today at 239-676-0546.