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Physical therapy

Physical Therapy: Its role in rehabilitation of persons affected by disability from injury or illness

Physical therapy is a form of rehabilitation therapy. It involves the development, maintenance and restoration of maximum mobility, functional ability and improved quality of life in persons who have been affected by disability arising from injury or illness.

Physical Therapists are licensed health care professionals providing these services in a variety of health settings such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other health agencies where they work as part of multi-disciplinary health teams. They also play key roles at fitness facilities and schools and they make significant contributions to the development of sports and the management of sporting injuries.

The American Physical Therapy Association(APTA) is the professional organization that represents the interests of physical therapists, assistants and students. It is an individual membership professional organization aimed at enhancing physical therapist practice and promoting the awareness of the role of the profession in the society. Physical therapists are licensed by the states in which they practice after passing a national exam to get certified.

What Physical Therapists Do

Their primary focus is to ensure that the patient returns to normal activities safely, and as quickly as possible. Utilizing essentially manual therapy skills and aided by cutting-edge treatment techniques, physical therapists treat specific injuries and related dysfunction with a view to achieving full recovery and reducing the risk of re-injury.

Physical therapyA physical therapist evaluates the patient and comes up with a treatment program tailored to the needs of the patient. Emphasis is placed on patient education and training to ensure that the patient becomes independent as soon as possible. Treatment outcomes are evaluated as program implementation progresses.

Recommendations for self-management at home are made at the appropriate time and home stretching and muscle strengthening are encouraged to facilitate quick recovery. Specific physical therapy services include:

Relief of Pain and Stiffness of Muscles and Joints

Manual therapy techniques such as muscle massage and manipulation are employed in the affected areas of the body to relieve pain and promote healing. Appropriate exercises are also prescribed to strengthen group of muscles and improve posture. When necessary, hydrotherapy can be employed to relax muscles and joints. This involves a series of exercises carried out in warm, shallow water.

Lower Back Pain

Physical therapists are commonly consulted for lower back pain, although the pain may be felt anywhere from the neck down to the hips. Many patients go to a physical therapist because self-help measures have not been helpful or the pain has been persistent or recurrent. They may also have been referred by their doctor or health care provider.

Occasionally lower back pain is due to a medical condition such as prolapsed disc. In such cases, they are usually accompanied by additional symptoms such numbness and tingling sensations and they require treatment by an orthopaedic specialist. However, quite often, doctors have not been able to identify the cause of the pain, in which case it is referred to as ‘’non-specific’’ back pain.

Bad posture, incorrect lifting, awkward twisting, overweight and prolonged standing are some of the common causes of non-specific lower back pain and physical therapists provide appropriate advice on regular exercise, maintenance of a healthy weight and the correct methods to adopt for efficiency in the work environment. Specific therapeutic methods are instituted by the physical therapist to alleviate the pain and promote early return to daily activities.

Rehabilitation after Illness or injury

Medical conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis often require prolonged periods of treatment and rehabilitation. Physical therapists play a significant role in providing support and rehabilitation as these conditions are often accompanied by stiff and inflexible muscles with difficulty in walking and carrying out everyday activities.

Respiratory conditions such the chronic obstructive airway diseases (COPD) may grow progressively worse necessitating the institution of breathing exercises along with medical treatment. To facilitate improved respiration so that affected individuals can carry on with their daily activities, physical therapists are invited to co-manage the patients by introducing specialized program of breathing exercises.

Physical therapists also provide rehabilitation following sports injuries. Sports enthusiasts and seasoned professionals are anxious to return to full sporting activities since early return to the field of play impacts substantially on their income. Other services provided include:

  • Prevention of falls
  • Treatment of bursitis and tendinitis
  • Prosthetics
  • Adaptive equipment
  • Rehabilitation after work related injuries
physical therapy service

Setting Physical Therapy Recovery Goals

The expertise of a physical therapist can be fundamental when recovering from certain injuries and medical conditions. Working with a therapist can help you restore the functionality of the injured body parts. The effectiveness of the various treatments used in physical therapy, however, depends on many factors, and the goals set by a patient are some of them. If you are to get the most out of therapy, you have to know why you are doing it. Understanding your objectives before the program begins provides a plan to work with at each stage. Frustration can set in easily when you don’t feel like your therapy is attaining any progress. Goal setting should be a joint undertaking between the patient and therapist to ensure that both comprehend what is at stake. However, there is a right way to lay out these recovery objectives.

Be Realistic

The cardinal rule of therapy goals is to keep them as realistic and attainable as possible. Don’t be too ambitious with your recovery that you come up with objectives you cannot fulfil. Doing that will only cause disappointments, which can be counterproductive to the process. Understand your capabilities before you set recovery goals. What is the extent of your injury? What is the prognosis? A patient who has had a spinal injury, for example, may not be able to gain full mobility, and that should be included in physical therapy servicethe goals. Begin by setting small goals that you are capable of achieving after your scheduled therapy. When starting the program, for instance, you can say that your objective is to move from the bed to the door with minimal support. After that, the goal can change to moving from the room to the main door. Goals keep you grounded but only if they are smart.

Communication Matters

A patient must be able to communicate freely with the physical therapist during the recovery process. Good communication channels will allow you to get the necessary assistance when establishing goals. With communication, the therapist can help you to be reasonable with your goals. If you are pushing yourself, then he/she will tell you. Communication is necessary to get the motivation you need. The PT exercises can be challenging, and you can easily be tempted to give up. When you speak honestly with your therapist, you can get the moral support and advice needed to keep you on track. Communication allows both patient and therapist to discuss the progress of the program candidly. If it is too slow or going well, the therapist will inform you.

Time Frame

Any goal should have a time frame. It is how you measure progress. Of course, the time frame has to be as realistic as the objectives. For example, an athlete with a torn Achilles tendon may want to get well enough to compete professionally. How long that takes, however, depends on several elements. The severity of the injury, the physical condition of the patient and the type of treatment administered are some of those aspects. A therapist will consider these when establishing the right schedule for recovery. You can say that in three weeks, you will be walking a certain distance. In two months, you will be walking without support. However, don’t be discouraged when you don’t meet your goals in the set period. Adjusting them with the help of your therapist is possible.

The point of PT is to help regain as much as possible. PT programs can be extensive in serious cases. Having recovery goals is good advice for any patient because it allows one to get the most out of therapy. Setting objectives for your PT is the best way to get involved in the therapy, which makes you feel in control. Note that recovery goals can go beyond the PT offered by the therapist. In most cases, patients have to continue with exercises when at home and goals can cover those programs as well. Objectives should be specific so you can tell when you have achieved them.

The recovery road is different for everyone, and that is what every patient must remember when setting goals for physical therapy. Attainable and realistic objectives provide a guide when working on your recovery, which makes it easy to monitor progress. Take the time to identify your PT objectives, which can range from being able to dance at a wedding to running a marathon.