What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapists (PT's) are the healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions, illnesses, or injuries that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities as well as they would like in their daily lives. We use an individual's history and physical examination to arrive at a diagnosis and establish a management plan and, when applicable, incorporate the results of laboratory and imaging studies. PT management commonly includes prescription of or assistance with specific exercises, manual therapy, education, manipulation and other interventions. In addition, We work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles, providing services to individuals and populations to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan. This includes providing services in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by aging, injury, disease or environmental factors. Functional movement is central to what it means to be healthy.
Physical Therapy and Recovery from Injury
Physical therapy can help you recover from an injury and avoid future injury by reducing pain in the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments & joints), improving flexibility and function, and building muscle strength. We can also evaluate how you do an activity and make suggestions for doing the activity in a way that is less likely to result in an injury.
Physical Therapy and Chronic Health Conditions
Physical therapy can help you live more easily with chronic or ongoing health conditions. We will work with you to establish your goals, then create a program of educational, range-of-motion, strengthening, and endurance activities to meet your needs. Here are some examples of chronic conditions that may be helped by physical therapy:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Physical Therapy is a treatment that:
- Guides you in learning to improve physical function in order to improve quality of life
- Develops awareness to enhance movement, balance, strength, flexibility, alignment, and integrate these
skills into function.
- Integrates healing, wellness and prevention to keep you active for life doing the things you love.
Do I Need Physical Therapy?
If you have an injury or illness that results in physical impairment or loss of function, we can help. We can evaluate and treat many conditions including:
• Auto and personal injuries
• Back, neck, shoulder, arm, wrist,
knee, leg and ankle injuries
• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Multiple Sclerosis
• Parkinsons disease
• Orthopedic rehabilitation
• Recreational and sports injury rehab
• Spinal cord injury
• Total joint pre and post surgical
rehab - knee, hip, shoulder and
• Vertigo and balance rehab
• Work related injuries
We can treat many other problems besides the ones listed. In general, any problem that causes pain and limits normal movement or function can be evaluated and treated by us. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you feel you may need physical therapy.
What Should I Expect at a Physical Therapy Visit?
At your first physical therapy visit, we will review your medical history and do a physical evaluation. Depending on your diagnosis or symptoms, we may evaluate your flexibility, strength, balance, coordination, or posture. We may look at how you walk or get up from lying down (functional activities), along with how you use and position your body as you perform activities (body mechanics). Our team will work with you to decide on your goals for physical therapy and to begin planning your treatment. You may or may not begin your actual therapy at the first visit.
In general, the first goal of treatment is to decrease any pain and swelling you may have. This may include the use of physical agents such as heat, ice, ultrasound or electric stimulation. The next steps usually are to increase your flexibility and then to increase your strength and endurance, depending on your condition. The goal is always to improve your ability to do your daily tasks and activities. We often use manual therapy including hands on treatment of joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons as well as therapeutic exercise to help people gain range of motion, increase strength and improve function. As with any deep tissue work or exercise, you may have mild soreness or swelling as a result of treatment, and these will be noted by our therapy team. We will watch your reaction to treatment (for example, if you have swelling or become out of breath) and will adjust your treatment as needed. This ongoing assessment and adjustment means that the risk of injury or complication from physical therapy is very low.
We will evaluate your need for special equipment such as particular footwear, splints, or crutches. If you need equipment, we can help you know what to get and either get it for you, or tell you where you can find it.
In most cases, part of your physical therapy will be education. We may teach you about performing your daily tasks safely, protecting your joints and avoiding re-injury, proper body mechanics and movement patterns, a customized home exercise program, and the use of any special equipment you many need. Patient education about a condition or illness is paramount to the practice of physical therapy, and we may use charts, models and diagrams to help you understand your diagnosis and prognosis. Please feel free to ask us if there are questions you have regarding your therapy and recovery.