October is NATIONAL PHYSICAL THERAPY MONTH so what better time to honor our awesome physical therapy staff for their skills and dedication to help our patients get back on their feet, back to work, back in the game, and back to life. Physical Therapy is often times misconstrued as a regimen of pain, or only for injuries, or even “why bother, I can do it myself”. So let’s take a look at dispelling some common misconceptions.
First of all, Physical Therapy may be prescribed for a number of reasons: post-surgical rehabilitation, sports injury rehabilitation, joint replacement therapy, or to relieve the discomfort of a long term health condition such as arthritis. Rehabilitation of major joints and muscle groups allow you to move better and relieve pain. It even helps improve and restore physical function and fitness levels. The ultimate goal is to make daily tasks and activities easier for you to perform.
So why shouldn’t you do the therapy on your own? Bottom line, you could do more harm. A Physical Therapy regimen is certainly one to be practiced on your own as prescribed, however, that does not mean a single visit. Typically, a physical therapist assesses your condition and creates an individualized treatment plan to help restore your physical and vocational function specific to you. The ultimate goal is for you to return safely and efficiently to your previous level of activity. This requires on-going monitoring by the professional guidance of a licensed Physical Therapist, and possibly increased therapy and/or additional exercises.
We’ve heard many a patient say “I thought surgery was my only option”. While that may ultimately be the case for some people, many an injury or condition has been successfully treated with physical therapy as an alternative to surgery. For example, a rotator cuff tear or knee arthritis does not necessarily translate into a surgical procedure. Specific muscle strengthening therapies may help support the shoulder or knee and provide relief from discomfort as well as a return to normal activity. A recent patient survey showed 79% of those patients said physical therapy has helped them avoid surgery.
Another myth is that “physical therapy can be performed by any health care professional”. Physical Therapists are licensed professionals with years of education and extensive training. After an undergraduate degree, as many as three additional years of education in their respective field are required to become licensed. There are even specialties like orthopedics, geriatrics, pediatrics, oncology, sports and women’s health certifications within the field.