What is Physical Therapy?
According to the America Physical Therapy Association, Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education. Physical therapists diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to people at the end of life. Many patients have injuries, disabilities, or other health conditions that need treatment. But PTs also care for people who simply want to become healthier and to prevent future problems. Physical therapists examine each person and then develop a treatment plan to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapists can have a profound effect on people’s lives. They help people achieve fitness goals, regain or maintain their independence, and lead active lives.
10 Reasons to Seek Physical Therapy:
- Reduce or eliminate pain. Therapeutic exercises and manual therapy techniques can help relieve pain and restore muscle and joint function to reduce pain. These therapies can also prevent pain from returning. Therapists also use pain relieving ‘modalities’ such as electrical stimulation, ultrasound and various forms of heat and cold.
- Improve mobility. If you’re having trouble standing, walking or moving, physical therapy can help – no matter your age. Stretching and strengthening exercises help restore your ability to move. Physical therapists can properly fit individuals with a cane, crutches or any other assistive device, or assess for orthotic prescription. Customizing an individual care plan means care tailored to your specific needs.
- Avoid surgery. If physical therapy helps you eliminate pain or heal from an injury, surgery may not be needed. Even if surgery is still required, you may benefit from pre-surgery physical therapy. Going into a surgery stronger and in better shape means recovery will be faster afterwards in many cases. Also, by avoiding surgery, health care costs are reduced.
- Recovery after a Stroke. It’s very common to lose some degree of function and movement after having a stroke. With physical therapy, weakened parts of the body can be strengthened. Physical therapists can also help improve patients’ quality of life at home by improving their ability to move around and be more independent when it comes to daily hygiene rituals and other activities.
- Help manage diabetes and vascular conditions. As part of an overall diabetes management plan, exercise can help effectively control blood sugar. People with diabetes may also have problems with sensation in their feet and legs. Physical therapists can help provide and educate these patients on proper foot care to prevent further problems down the road.
- Help manage heart and lung disease. After a heart attack, patients may complete cardiac rehabilitation. However, if your daily functioning is affected, you also may receive physical therapy. For pulmonary problems, physical therapy can improve quality of life through strengthening, conditioning and breathing exercises, and help patients clear fluid in the lungs.
- Recover from or prevent a sports injury. Physical therapists understand how different sports can increase your risk for specific types of injuries. They can design appropriate recovery or prevention exercise programs for you to ensure a safe return to your sport.
- Manage age-related issues. As individuals age, they may develop arthritis or osteoporosis or need a joint replacement. Physical therapists are experts in helping patients recover from joint replacement, and manage arthritic or osteoporotic conditions.
- Improve your balance and prevent falls. At the beginning of your physical therapy treatment, you may be screened for fall risk. If you happen to be at high risk for falls, therapists will provide exercises that safely and carefully challenge your balance as a way to demonstrate real-life situations that might occur. Therapists also help you with exercises to improve coordination and provide assistive devices to help with safer walking.
- Manage Women’s Health and other conditions. Women have specific health concerns, such as with pregnancy and postpartum care. Physical therapists can offer specialized management of issues related to women’s health.