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If you’ve suffered a serious injury, loss of a limb, or undergone a major surgery, you may be advised to start a physical therapy regimen to recover strength and coordination. However, physical therapy is far more than the actual patient-physical therapist relationship — countless others work in the field conducting research, educating others, and doing administrative work. Physical therapy can be a difficult process, but is ultimately very rewarding and can lead to a better quality of life for the patient involved. Regaining mobility and strength can also have positive mental effects which can also aid recovery. If you’re about to start rehabilitation services of some kind, it’s good to do some research into your various physical therapy options and decide what course of action is right for you.
What Does Physical Therapy Usually Consist Of?
Physical therapy is a field of medicine that focuses on rehabilitating individuals, reducing physical pain, adapting to living with a chronic injury, or preventing further harm. It supports increased mobility, ability, and a better quality of life by inspecting the patient, figuring out what they need, and how best to treat the individual. Physical intervention usually takes place, where specialists work with the patient physically using machines and exercises tailored to their injury or situation.
On the non-clinical side, other jobs in physical therapy include research into the field to look for new advances, education on how to prevent injury, especially among athletes, and administrative functions. The clinical side may often work closely with other medical fields.
How Do I Know If I Need Physical Therapy?
You often hear of veterans entering physical therapy to help them adapt to missing limbs and increase their strength in other parts of their bodies. Physical therapy is thought to help with rapid recovery, both physical and mental, although it can often be an arduous process. Athletes often enter physical therapy, especially if they play rough contact sports or have a high risk of being injured. Usually a rehabilitative team will be assigned to high profile individuals who need physical therapy. However, your aches and pains don’t have to be so serious to get physical therapy. Some people seek physical therapy to help with sprains, help with balance, or just fitness and wellness training.
What are the Goals of Physical Therapy?
The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to improve quality of life and comfort in a dramatic way. The restorative care it provides individuals should allow them to go about their daily tasks and activities in an easier fashion and with minimal pain or discomfort. Walking, taking the stairs, and getting up or going to bed every day are common examples of activities that are often made simpler with physical therapy. Many people may seek out physical therapy to alleviate health problems and relieve pain. It can also help restore an adequate fitness level and help individuals get back to their original physical function before the accident, illness, or injury.
Physical therapists help patients focus on regaining flexibility, strength, and endurance. Going hand in hand with that are also exercises that focus on better coordination and balance. Some techniques they draw upon are manual therapy, learning about things to avoid or best practices, and heat and water therapy. Ultrasounds and electrical stimulation may also be used in some cases. Exercise is always a key part of the physical therapy process. It can be as gentle as walking and stretching (for flexibility and balance) to core exercises and lifting weights (strength and endurance). The physical therapy regimen will usually start out easy and then push the patient as he or she gets stronger. Physical therapists challenge their patients to be constantly pushing themselves, but in a healthy way.
Physical therapists are all licensed health care professionals. Most have a master’s or Ph.D. in physical therapy.
Physical therapy is an important process on the road to recovery for many people in the aftermath of a surgery, illness, or accident. Knowing what to expect can make the journey a little easier and establishing a good relationship with your physical therapist is also key to seeing the results you want.