What first comes to your mind when you hear the words, “physical therapy”? Most people would say, of course, an exercise of some sort. But there is more to this kind of special treatment. Physical therapy (PT) is actually a healthcare treatment for those with problems in moving or those who are experiencing a great amount of pain in their body.
It is done with a physical therapist. These are professionals who are trained to assess your condition and improve your body’s function. These individuals are required to have a clinical doctorate degree or a master’s degree first. They also must pass the licensing exam before they can treat patients like you.
According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), a physical therapist is someone who has an experience in curing physical abnormalities, maintaining proper body function, and promoting activity.
Each therapy will depend on your condition. Each physical therapist has his or her technique and modalities. Sometimes, the treatment is even personalized, depending on what the physical therapist thinks is the best solution for your case.
How Will You Know If You Need Physical Therapy
The main objective of physical therapy is to ease the pain in your body. Oftentimes, these are the factors that would lead you to undergo PT:
- Improve ability
- Recover from a sports injury
- Relieve pain
- Prevent surgery
- Brace or splint
- Recover after giving birth
- Spinal cord injury
- Chronic illness
- Rehab after surgery
- Control bladder and bowel
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Improve balance
- Artificial limb
- To learn how to use assistive machines
There are other disorders that can be cured through physical therapy. These conditions include any injury or illness that would limit you from moving normally. When this happens, your doctor might recommend that you undergo physical therapy.
Some athletes are required to have their own physical therapist. This is because athletes are more prone to having injuries. By undergoing PT, athletes can keep on playing in the field and make sure that they avoid having injuries.
Different Types of Physical Therapy
There are a lot of conditions that physical therapy can improve. Each therapy requires a different approach and technique. Below are the different types of therapies depending on your condition:
- Decongestive therapy. This type of therapy drains the fluid that can be found in patients with lymphedema and fluid accumulation.
- Orthopedic physical therapy. This treatment is best for those with musculoskeletal injuries, especially in the tendons, muscles, ligaments, and bones.
- Neurological physical therapy. This is usually recommended for patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease, to name a few.
- Wound care therapy. This treatment helps to give your wound the needed oxygen and blood to help in circulation.
- Geriatric physical therapy. This cures arthritis, balance disorders, hip and joint replacement, osteoporosis, and more.
- Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation. This therapy is usually given to those who just had surgical procedures and cardiopulmonary conditions.
- Vestibular therapy. This treatment is best for curing balance problems. It is also good for improving the coordination of your body.
What Happens During Physical Therapy
Once you have decided to undergo physical therapy, the first thing that your therapist would do is to ask questions about what you are feeling. Mostly about the painful parts in your body. Some questions would include symptoms, how you are handling your daily tasks, your sleeping schedule, and so on.
Afterward, the PT would let you take some tests to check your posture, how you walk, heartbeat, and how you can walk around. The PT will then assess your conditions and create a suitable treatment plan for you.
This plan would include your future plans and personal goals. Reaching these objectives depend on the person. Others might take too early or too long. There can be instances when the PT might require you more sessions than others.
When everything is all set, there is an assessment of your condition and a treatment plan, the session will officially start. During the session, you and your PT will do the following:
- Practice with gadgets like a walker or crane
- Exercises and stretches
- Practice using an artificial limb
- Different types of therapy such as ultrasound, cold therapy, warm water therapy, or massage
- Aerobic training
- Pain relief exercises
- Heat and ice packs
The therapist can adjust your treatment, depending on your progress. If you want for a faster progression, you can exercise in between your sessions. Just be sure that you consult with your doctor first before trying out any exercise.
Where Does Physical Therapy Happen
Since the conditions that require physical therapy are common, you will not have a hard time looking for physical therapists. In fact, you can find one in any of these places:
- Cardiac rehab centers
- Outpatient clinics
- Nursing homes
- Sports teams
- Private medical offices
- Assisted living homes
Does Physical Therapy Hurt
Of course, if you are experiencing pain or just got into an injury, moving your body would hurt. Especially when you just started doing the exercises and stretches. Expect your body to hurt at first. You might even experience soreness in your body.
You might need to go through a lot of sessions. But your body will eventually get used to it. Before you know it, you will be fully cured. If the exercises are too much for you, the therapist can change the plan to suit your capabilities and needs.
It is important to note that physical therapy is not just an exercise that you can do whenever you want to. It is a treatment that requires a licensed therapist that can assess and develop a plan for you. The plan will depend on your condition. The exercises might differ as well depending on your body. So if you have suffered any injuries or you are experiencing pain in any parts of your body that you think requires treatment, you can easily find a PT in hospitals and private medical offices.