Physical therapy is a diverse and growing field in medicine. Most physical therapy patients suffer from musculoskeletal issues, movement impairments and chronic pain in joints, but this isn’t always the case. A lot of physical therapy patients are regular people looking to improve their health, such as athletes and people with desk jobs who lead sedentary lifestyles. There are many benefits of physical therapy that are largely unknown,
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy, also known as physiotherapy, involves treating health conditions such as chronic or acute pain, soft tissue injuries, cartilage damage, arthritis, gait disorders and physical impairments.
Most conditions treatable by physical therapy are of musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary and neurological origins. Physical therapists use methods such as massage, acupuncture, therapeutic exercise, ice and heat and electrical stimulation to help patients during their recovery process.
Such methods help to improve a patient’s physical functions, whereas ongoing physical examinations of the patient’s health helps therapists to monitor problems. Examinations can also help physical therapists to diagnose conditions sometimes, however, many patients already obtain a diagnosis from their doctor before visiting a therapist – in which case physical therapy is usually a recommendation from the doctor.
Physical therapists aim to improve the quality of life of patients and enhance their physical, psychological, emotional and social well-being. Movement is an integral part of life and improved movement can often drastically improve a patient’s overall quality of life. It has been proven that physical therapy treatment may eliminate the need for surgery in patients with multiple injuries.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
There a many advantages of physical therapy. While some patients do stand to benefit more than others, almost anyone could benefit from seeing a physical therapist.
Therapeutic exercises and manual therapy techniques or treatments such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation can assist with relieving pain and discomfort. Treatment can also restore muscle and joint function to help with better body movements. In some cases, these therapies can completely heal the patient and prevent pain from returning.
Back pain is an especially common problem in modern society. Many people have sedentary office jobs, which can lead to a lot of back tension. Over time, the problem can become worse, leading to almost chronic back pain. Physical therapy can help patients get relief from back pain, while also helping to improve posture.
Physical therapy can help patients heal from an injury, which can prevent the need for surgery to recover. This is one of the many benefits of physical therapy, but it’s definitely among one of the most advantageous. Even patients who are scheduled for surgery can benefit from post operation physical therapy, as it will help speed the recovery process.
Physiotherapy can be a wonderful way to assist when patients who experience difficulty walking or have other mobility impairments. Specific stretching and strengthening exercises can help to boost overall mobility and reduce discomfort related to moving.
After a thorough examination, a physical therapist will devise a treatment plan for each patient’s mobility impairments. Prescriptions and assistive devices often comprise part of the overall treatment plan.
Rehabilitation After a Stroke
Stroke patients are commonly left with restricted body movement as an aftereffect of brain damage. Physical therapy on a regular basis assists in strengthening and balancing for weakened parts of the body.
After undergoing physical therapy, a patient’s ability to move around and perform tasks around the home often improves, allowing patients to live a more independent life. Daily activities such as getting dressed and maintaining personal hygiene are basic functions that many patients want to regain when starting physical therapy sessions after a stroke.
Other neurological conditions that can benefit from treatment through physical therapy include cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
If you or a family member are suffering from a neurological disorder, talk to you doctor about the possibility of introducing physical therapy as part of your treatment plan.
Recovering from Sports Injuries
Physical therapy can be highly beneficial to athletes from all walks of life. Specialized therapists know that every sport has a different impact on the body. The types of injuries athletes tend to obtain from their sport tend to differ greatly from one sport to another. Golfers often struggle with knee problems and wrist pain, whereas football players might suffer from back and shoulder problems, for instance.
Physical therapists are able to develop a specific recovery for injured athletes. When treating a sports injury, the goal is always to help athletes partake in their sport again.
While many people partake in sport for purely recreational reasons, athletes competing in competitive sports on a professional level are usually eager to return to their sport. Unfortunately, partaking in sports too soon after sustaining an injury can exacerbate and cause temporary injuries to leave permanent damage. Physical therapists can help professional athletes return to their sport as soon as possible, but also prevent permanent issues by advising athletes whether they’re ready to return.
Balance issues can greatly increase patients’ risk of falling and injuring themselves. To treat balance problems, physical therapists will assess patients to determine their risk for falls. Exercises to help improve balance ensure that patients retain a better sense of stability. Physical therapists can introduce exercises to enhance coordination to a patient treatment plan. Specially customized devices are also often recommended to help with safer walking.
Unfortunately there are many health complications that increase in prevalence with aging. Problems such as arthritis and osteoporosis are common issues among the elderly, often even requiring joint replacement. Physical therapy is the most beneficial treatment in supporting patients recovering from joint replacement and can also help with managing arthritic conditions effectively.
Water retention is a common problem and can lead to uncomfortable swelling of limbs. Many conditions are associated with fluid retention in the body. Causes for water retention include certain medications, cardiological problems, kidney complications, damaged veins and cirrhosis.
There are some things patients can do to reduce their risk of developing edema (swelling of the limbs), but the problem isn’t always easy to treat. Physical therapy serves as an excellent treatment option for patients suffering from edema.
Heart and Lung Disease
Normally, patients will go through cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack or some kind of cardiac-related procedure. Physiotherapy provides extra care to support patients during their recovery period. Lung disease patients can also benefit from strengthening and breathing exercises to help clear fluid on the lungs and open up the airways for better breathing.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Strengthening
The pelvic floor muscles are responsible for maintaining some of the body’s most basic functions. Unfortunately, when these muscles become weak, cause patients can experience embarrassing complications in the form of incontinence. Physical therapists can assist in strengthening pelvic floor muscles to improve patients’ ability to control the release of pelvic muscles.
Physical Therapy at Home vs Visiting a Therapy Practice
Many patients in need of physical therapy suffer from impaired movement. This makes it difficult when patients need to visit an office for therapy sessions. One of the benefits of physical therapy at home is that patients with mobility impairments don’t need to go to regular therapy sessions at a physical therapy office.
But there are many reasons why patients might not be able to commit to visiting an office. Transportation issues or childcare responsibilities also often pose a problem for many patients.
Receiving physical therapy at home is a great alternative. Home health care offers patients the convenience of getting professional medical care without ever having to leave the house. A patient can book an appointment and the physical therapist will visit the patient’s residence for treatment.
Receiving treatment in a comfortable environment can also help patients perform better during sessions, helping to speed up recovery times.