9V6RJ3rpFgRWRKz9atzwHWSEAzE Useful Articles Hard To Ignore: What to Expect with Physical Therapy

Monday, February 6, 2012

What to Expect with Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a science dealing with treating musculoskeletal system disorders and their relation with physical movement.  The processes involved are evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of those people who have sustained disabilities, impairments, or limitations in their overall physical function.  These disorders may have been the result of a disease or injury that when left untreated can result in more serious conditions.  There is a wide patient base for this therapy, from newborn babies to geriatrics.

Not everybody can practice this form of therapy.  It can and should only be provided by physical therapists.  They are professionally licensed and should be the ones who will do the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment basing it on what the patient needs.  They hold a master’s or doctorate degree in such field and their workplace can be in hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, outpatient facilities, schools, and nursing homes.

The goal is to restore the movements and function of those parts involved with the disorder.  This kind of therapy requires the use of all or some of the following: exercise, mobilization, heat, cold, electrical stimulation, and massage.  Through patient and therapist interaction, therapy can help restore movement and function helping patients return to their prior level of physical independence.  Alongside restoring function and improving mobility is decreasing the patient’s pain as he reestablishes his prior functional level.

Physical therapists focus on the evaluation of the following: strength, balance, range of motion, coordination, endurance, and posture of each patient at the initial examination.  They then go on in developing the treatment plan specific to correcting the physical findings.  This treatment plan is based on the goals set by the therapist.  The patient may have his own goal but the therapist is there to determine if that goal is a realistic one.

Rehabilitation efforts involve exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles as well as improve the posture, balance, and endurance.  Aside from manual stretching and other modalities such as heat, cold, electricity, and ultrasound, the use of traction machines are sometimes incorporated in the treatment plan.  Moreover, devices that assist the patients to increase mobility such as crutches, canes, and walkers can also be included in the plan.

Throughout the course of the rehabilitation, physical therapists track the patient’s progress, reevaluate findings, and modify treatment plans if needed.  Oftentimes, they work together with other specialists and professionals in order to reach the goal of giving the patient maximal functional independence.  They team up with physicians, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, or recreational therapists.

The duration of the treatment program depends per patient.  Even if two patients have the same disorder, their rate of healing may vary largely so much so that one can walk within three days while the other may require weeks.  There are also variations in pain perception and motivation, which can affect the amount of therapy time required.

A home exercise program is an effective way of speeding up the process of regaining function and movement, if and only if the exercises are executed in the manner instructed by the therapist.  Physical therapy will work best for the patient if he goes for the therapy sessions regularly and if he follows the home exercise program correctly and religiously.

These things accompanied with a positive attitude and motivation can make the patient recover faster.  The next thing he knows he is on his way to regaining full range of motion.

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