What is Physical Therapy?
Physical Therapy (PT) is considered a conservative treatment method addressing the treatment, healing and prevention of injuries and disabilities. PT focus primarily, but not solely, on pain relief, promoting healing, restore function and movement, fascilitation and adaptation associated with injury. Other areas that are focused upon within PT are ergonomic (body mechanic) training, fitness/wellness, and especially education.
What can a Physical Therapy program do for me that I cannot do on my own?
Many patients may think that they know how to properly exercise, manage their pain and rehabilitate themselves. Patients commonly give explanations for why they do not need therapy – for example, “I have had this before and I know what works for me,” or “I know what is causing this, because my neighbor had the same thing so I will just do what she did,” and attempt to manage themselves. A Physical Therapist is a specialist skilled and educated specifically in proper rehabilitation. We are continually educated as to management for different dysfunctions, differentiation of one dysfunction/injury from another and work closely with the referring physician in the development of a rehabilitation program specifically designed for each individual. The other important aspect to remember with physical therapy is that each individual is different. We all have different types of bodies, different patterns of movement, different alignments and different habits. A Physical Therapist monitors each individual and attempt to correct improper habits, alignments and movement patterns.
Most importantly with therapy is education. Because of healthcare guidelines and reimbursement changes, your physician may not have the time that they need to explain to you exactly what your injury/dysfunction/disability is and why/how it occurred. Your therapist is specialized in this and many times will be the one to educate you on the specifics of your problem and what the course of action will be to correct it and hopefully prevent it from reoccurring. PT focuses on education, correction and prevention.
How long is it going to take?
This is such a popular question. It seems that everyone has to have timelines, which is understandable because we all have lives to lead. Your physical therapist is aware that rehabilitation can be an imposition. Each person is different, rates of healing are different. We can usually get an idea of your progression within two weeks. Even though they have other things to do, rehab. Is important and takes time just as injuries generally have taken a significant amount of time to progress to the point of injury or pain.
The other factor that patients must understand is that, even though we are here teaching you and rehabilitating them, it is their responsibility to do their Home Program. This is a major factor in how quickly one recovers.
Who benefits from therapy?
Many and all can benefit from therapy. Individuals with perfect body mechanics, training techniques or movement patterns are very rare. This is where wellness comes into play.
Typically, the most appropriate patients are those who have been in accidents (work, auto, or falls), athletes with overstress injuries, arthritic patients, pre- and post-operative patients, and those with general deconditioning or strains.
What will I have to do in therapy?
Therapy generally encompasses pain relief, strength and flexibility training, proper postural alignment, regaining movement or range of motion, improving and correcting posture, endurance training, relaxation and stress relieving techniques, balance and coordination training, proper walking, education, safety awareness and development/implementation of a home exercise program.
Remember that each individual is different, so each rehab/physical therapy experience and program is different. Be patient with yourself, your physician and your physical therapy staff. Healing takes time, diligence and compliance. If you think you may be a candidate for physical therapy, speak to your physician or to a therapist. We never will say “no” to questions.
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