There’s More to Physical Therapy Than Meets the Eye
There are perhaps few medical fields that are surrounded with more mystery and misconceptions than physical therapy. Commonly thought to just help rehabilitate surgery patients or those who’ve experienced a medical condition like a stroke or heart attack, physical therapy is used for so much more.
Here are some commonly known (and not so commonly known) uses and/or needs of physical therapy.
Avoiding Surgery Altogether
Physical therapy is commonly the first course of action doctors suggest before surgery. Because surgery is invasive, comes with a long list of risks and then also often requires physical therapy in the aftermath, physical therapy is usually a preferable first course of action.
Much like professional massages can help with pain management, physical therapy can help those dealing with chronic pain or pain related to injuries or surgery. Whether that is with custom exercises used to strengthen muscles or to correct common movements that are causing joint and/or muscle pain, physical therapy is one of the most commonly used methods for main management.
Sometimes this goes hand-in-hand with surgery, as surgery tends to stiffen joints with scar tissue and the necessary in-mobility phase patients must go through post-surgery to allow healing to take place. Custom stretches and strength-training exercises help retrain the body to move correctly to both avoid future pain and to alleviate current pain.
Strokes hit hard, often leaving patients paralyzed or with extreme difficulty in moving. Physical therapy helps build up weakened parts of the body, improves balance and teaches patients how to live with their new body – giving them much needed freedom and independence.
From recovery to even preventative measures, physical therapy is central to athletes’ health. Professional therapists recognize that sports (especially contact sports) present unique injuries like stress fractures or muscle tears that don’t usually happen in day-to-day activity. Customized routines and exercises tailored to an athlete’s needs can help them make a smooth and speedy come back.
From arthritis, osteoporosis and joint replacement issues to diabetes management and fall prevention, physical therapists help elderly patients manage their day-to-day activities and adjust to the age-related changes happening to their bodies.
Specific health conditions surrounding pregnancy and postpartum care can be addressed with physical therapy, along with conditions like bowel incontinence, breast cancer, constipation, fibromyalgia, pelvic pain, urinary incontinence and more.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), a physical therapist is a trained and licensed medical professional with experience in diagnosing physical abnormalities, restoring physical function and mobility, maintaining physical function, and promoting physical activity and proper function. As, such, the uses and functions of a quality physical therapist are endless, and so many people and conditions can benefit from their expertise and care.
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