You may have heard your neighbor, friend or your doctor suggest physical therapy for an ache or pain you have mentioned to them. But what exactly is physical therapy, what does a physical therapist do and how can it help?
Many do not realize the benefits of Physical Therapy. According to Amy Adams, MPT at Progressive Physical Therapy, “Physical Therapy is health care provided by a licensed physical therapist that remedies impairments and disability caused from injury or illness”. Physical Therapists are trained in movement and movement disorders and are considered specialist in musculoskeletal function. They perform an evaluation to determine limitations and why the pain or dysfunction is occurring. Physical Therapist then use their training to correct the dysfunction, educate the individual about the dysfunction, and provide them with the knowledge to keep themselves healthy, decreasing the possibility of continued need for therapy or other medical services. The goal of PT is to return people to their level of function prior to the illness or injury, as quickly and safely as possible.
Physical Therapy can address many different issues including sprains/strains, back and neck pain, shoulder instability, ankle pain and instability, foot pain, sports injuries, work injuries, dizziness, pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, incontinence, pre- and post-pregnancy pain, arthritis, osteoporosis and weight bearing restrictions. This is not an all-inclusive list, as physical therapy has multiple aspects to help an individual to regain their function.
Physical therapy is often considered a last ditch effort before surgery but in actuality early physical therapy treatment can decrease not only the individual’s pain but the overall cost of health care they may encounter, such as decreased testing, decreased medication prescription and decreased return physician appointments. Studies in Spine, a peer reviewed medical journal, reports the positive aspects of physical therapy intervention when received within 2 weeks of injury verses delayed intervention (15-90 days after injury). Those patients that received early physical therapy used decreased medical services over the course of the following 18 month period.
Early physical therapy can also increase a person’s function quicker, returning them to a more productive and meaningful life. Early intervention of physical therapy can speed up the recovery process by decreasing the time the body is able to compensate or perform “bad” movements, leading to increased complications or problems. If a surgery is indicted, it will also allow the muscles to stay toned and strong, making the post surgical recovery easier.
Physical Therapist are becoming more accessible to the general public through direct access of the service, i.e. without the need for referral, therefore, they are also trained in identifying problems which are outside the scope of physical therapy and need referred to a physician or specialist. Physical Therapy will provide safe and effective activity to assist in the healing process and allow quick referral out to another trained medical professional if needed. Remember, your doctor is still an integral part of your care, so talk to your doctor about the benefits of physical therapy. Be an active part of your health! For more information on physical therapy, visit our website at www.progressive-pt.net.
Article submitted by Amy Adams, MPT Progressive Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Center