Everyone has a different reaction to being referred to physical therapy by their physician. Some firmly believe in the benefits of therapy while others are a bit skeptical. Quite often in orthopedics, physical therapy is among the first treatments the physician will order to start the process of strengthening and moving the affected area of the body. Sometimes physical therapy will be 1-2 visits to obtain and learn a home exercise program. Other times physical therapy will be for an extended period of time for rehabilitation in the case of a total joint, a fracture or other major injury to a part of the body.
Physical therapists are trained to work with patients on an individual basis to identify deficiencies in the biomechanics of the body. They are able to develop a program of therapy to meet the specific needs of the patient based on their current condition and eventual goals of therapy. All patients respond differently to different types of therapy and at their own pace.
The reasons people get physical therapy are varied but the most common are to reduce or eliminate pain, avoid surgery, improve mobility, recover from stroke, recover from sports injury, improve balance and strength to prevent falls, pre-diabetes management, and managing age related issues.
There are so many benefits of physical therapy, not just the immediate need for strengthening or rehabilitation, but long after your sessions are over. Here are a few of those benefits:
1. Helps manage pain. Therapy techniques and exercises can help mobilize joints and soft tissue and restore muscle function. This in turn will reduce the pain and help to keep it from returning.
2. Help to avoid surgery. In some cases, therapy can eliminate the pain, assist with healing, and improve physical health to allow injured tissue to heal and become mobile again on its own, thus eliminating the need for surgery. Physical therapy can also help you recover faster after surgery.
3. Can prevent injuries. One of the key parts of physical therapy is assessing the patient’s weak areas and having a plan to help strengthen these muscles and joints thus helping to prevent further injuries in these areas.
4. Improves mobility and balance. When walking and movement is restricted due to injury or surgery, physical therapy will have a plan to help strengthen these areas to help both restore the movement and also help with balance.
5. Helps with age-related health issues. Physical therapy exercises are a more conservative approach for older patients to help and manage joint pains, arthritis, and osteoporosis.
6. Help recover from a stroke. Physical therapy can help strengthen those parts of the body most commonly affected by a stroke. It can help improve posture and balance and help patients become more independent at home again.
7. Help maximize movement. Physical therapists are able to diagnose and treat movement related issues. The therapy plan will be specific for each patient’s individual needs and will set goals to help live pain free and active and sustain those levels by continuing the exercises at home.
Should your physician order physical therapy for you in the future, keep an open mind and remember all that you can gain from the physical therapists’ expertise.