One of the primary misconceptions about physical therapy is that it is all about exercise. The true aim of physical therapy is to rehabilitate patients, so that they can achieve optimal functional movement and live their lives to their fullest potential.
The physical therapy field is huge with a tremendous amount of breadth and subspecialties. But generally speaking, a physical therapist will commonly take the following approach to a patient:
- Meets with a patient who is experiencing pain or other functional impairments
- Analyzes the source of their pain
- Treats the structures that are involved in causing the impairment or pain
- Prescribes the appropriate strengthening exercises and educates the patient on the proper way to perform their exercises in order to help them in their recovery
In order to accurately analyze and identify why a patient's posture or joint alignment is off, a physical therapist will rely on ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and iontophoresis devices, all of which can help a physical therapist mobilize and stretch tight tissue.
But, it's not just about the exercises that a physical therapist performs on the patient. Part of the value of a physical therapist, is the ability to teach patients how to perform their exercises, which helps prevent future pain or injury.
Additionally, physical therapy is helpful for more than just musculoskeletal problems. For example, it can be used when recovering from heart and lung conditions or even a stroke.
Physical therapy can also help children who experience developmental delays. A physical therapist can prescribe adaptive equipment including orthotics, canes or crutches to help off load and protect joints or help with balance.
For every condition, the goal for a physical therapist is to empower patients to be able to take charge of their own well-being. That may mean an exercise prescription or program for strengthening, removing the bathroom throw rug to prevent a fall for a person with poor balance, or techniques to manage and reduce pain.
Your physical therapist should begin with a proper evaluation and spend time getting to know your individual condition and, most importantly, get to know what goals and values you hold for living your life. This allows the therapist to collaborate with you and your doctor to improve your quality of life, specific to your needs and situation.
If you'd like to learn more about physical therapy, contact us today and discover how a physical therapist can help you with your recovery.