What do you think of when someone mentions physical therapy (PT)? If you find yourself believing that physical therapists are called on scene only after someone has suffered a traumatic injury or stroke, allow us to reacquaint you with this particular medical specialty.
PT has numerous applications, for everything from orthopedic pain and neurological conditions to autoimmune disorders and even asthma. And as you may have already guessed, there are various types of PT, too, including orthopedic, acute care, post-operative care, neurologic rehabilitation and more.
In reality, once you look at all that can be accomplished with PT, you’ll probably realize that you or someone close to you could benefit greatly from a consultation and treatment plan.
What can a physical therapist do for me?
PT is about improving quality of life. That may mean reducing pain, improving physical function or limiting the effects of a disability or impairment. The most common reasons people seek help from physical therapists include:
- Joint Pain (affecting hips, knees, ankles or shoulders, including arthritis)
- Sprains, Strains & Sports Injuries
- Post Operative Pain/Limited Function
- Vertigo & Balance Disorders
- Spinal Stenosis & Scoliosis
- Cardiac & Stroke Rehab
- Degenerative Diseases (e.g. cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, Guillain-Barre syndrome, etc.)
- And more!
But did you know that PT is also valuable in preventative care? The basics of PT focus on posture, increasing strength and flexibility, and improving coordination, which makes it an ideal way to prevent sports or work-related injuries, arthritic and joint pain, and complications of certain spinal conditions.
How does a physical therapist determine my needs?
Your initial PT evaluation will usually include a basic physical examination and several functional tests. But don’t worry—your therapist isn’t looking for an Iron Man competitor and therefore does not expect impressive feats of physical strength.
Instead, functional tests look at range of motion, general patterns of movement, flexibility and overall strength, as well as posture while sitting and standing. In addition, your therapist will ask several questions related to daily activities, work environment, current physical complaints and your expectations for therapy.
Following the initial evaluation, your therapist will walk you through a proposed treatment plan, which may include physical exercises and stretches, heat and/or ice therapy, massage, electrical stimulation, manual therapy and more.
So what are you waiting for?
Clearly, there are a multitude of reasons to consider a visit with your nearby physical therapist. Whether you’re struggling with pain or mobility issues today, or want to prepare your body for a specific physical endeavor, a physical therapist can help you better understand your body, the way it moves and how to care for its structure.
If you believe PT could be the ideal method to manage or prevent pain, treat an injury or stay on top of a disability, contact the outpatient physical therapy team at Methodist Hospital for Surgery.