In this article, we discuss what’s physical therapy, the types of it, whether you should get it, and its benefits for your health.
Many things can happen to us throughout the course of our lives that can leave us with severe injuries which may greatly influence our quality of life.
For example, if someone were to have surgery on their leg, they would not only need months for the wounds to heal, but they may also have to learn to walk all over again.
In times like these, physical therapy can prove to be the best treatment plan. So what is physical therapy? Who can benefit from it, and how is it administered? Keep reading to find out the benefits of physical therapy.
What Is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy or physiotherapy can often be defined as the use of various equipment used to exercise or the application of heat, cold, or ultrasound in an attempt to help a patient recover physically from disability, pain, or injury.
Therapy can also be given to a patient in a swimming pool; however, this depends solely on the condition of the patient and the type of injury or disability that they may have.
There are many physical therapy clinics you can visit in your local area. For example, if you live in Denver, Colorado, you can look into The KinetikChain Physical Therapy clinic and get your therapy routine any day.
Physical therapy increases mobility and reduces pain for patients who are recovering from surgery, accidents or are suffering disabilities as a result of genetic disposition.
How Is Physical Therapy Administered?
When you visit a physiotherapist, they will first begin by going through your history. This is something any regular doctor or therapist would do to get a better idea of your medical background. Every person who wants to be a physical therapist needs PT observation hours verification and that proves his/her competency.
Then they will physically examine you. This is when they’ll try to check all affected areas on your body to look a little closer at the problem you have. They might also ask you about the amount of pain and discomfort you have.
After this, they will come up with a highly personalized treatment plan that will help your specific needs. This treatment plan will include details of what sorts of exercises, massages, or other therapy methods will be used to treat your symptoms.
Your visits to the physical therapy clinic must be regular, and you must attend for a certain period of time — much like you would with a course of prescribed medicine. In some cases, the clinic will teach you certain physical therapy methods that you can do at home yourself.
Types of Physical Therapy Treatments
Most treatments that are provided to those taking physical therapy focus on exercises and massages. This might make it look similar to personal training, but there are a few key differences, especially because these workouts are followed by a number of other treatments. These treatments are as follows.
- Temperature therapy is the use of heat or cold to treat an area. This is one of the more common and straightforward methods used by physical therapy clinics.
- E-stim is short for electrical stimulation. Here, a low voltage is used to treat the patient. There are two types of e-stim – one that is used to relieve pain, and the other that is used to stimulate motor neurons within a muscle.
If someone has impaired motor function, meaning they aren’t able to move a certain limb properly, then e-stim can be used to “activate” the nerves so that they respond better.
- Light therapy makes use of UV lights and sometimes lasers to treat the patient.
- Lastly, we have iontophoresis. This process also makes use of electrical currents, but instead of using it to stimulate, it is used to administer medicine to the patient (e.g. topical steroids).
What Can Be Treated Using Physical Therapy?
You’ll be surprised to know that multiple diseases – or the aftermath of these diseases – can be treated with physical therapy.
Heart And Lung Problems
Physical therapy can be used to treat heart and lung conditions, known as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). One of the common conditions that fall into this category is myocardial infarction or heart attack. Another common genetic condition that can be treated is cystic fibrosis.
In cystic fibrosis, a rare genetic pulmonary obstructive condition, thick mucus builds up in the airways of the lungs, making it extremely difficult for the patient to breathe. Physical therapy can help clear the airways by aiding the body in getting rid of the mucus.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often known as median nerve compression and is characterized by pain, numbness, and tingling sensations in your hand. One of the most effective ways to relieve these symptoms is to use physical therapy.
Your doctor will mostly treat you using a series of therapeutic exercises. These exercises will help decrease some of the pressure in the nerves of your wrists. Continued therapy can help relieve this within four to six weeks.
Muscular, Skeletal, and Neurological Problems
Back pain, injuries to the spinal cord, stroke, or severe injuries caused to the brain can also be treated effectively using physical therapy. The problems discussed here are either related to the muscular, skeletal, or nervous system. A wide range of symptoms can easily be treated in this way.
As we all know, Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition where a person’s nervous system is slowly damaged, reducing their ability to function and move properly. Although physical therapy cannot cure Parkinson’s, it can help improve a patient’s quality of life.
Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy
Cerebral palsy affects a person’s ability to maintain their balance and posture and is often caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain during childbirth.
Physical therapy can be used to improve the patient’s movement capabilities so that they have better navigation skills.
Muscular dystrophy is a collection of genetic conditions. Patients usually have very weak muscles. Physiotherapists tend to work with patients with muscular dystrophy to help improve their movements and to reduce any pain or discomfort caused to their joints.
Sports injuries are very common, and most of these can easily be treated with well-planned physical therapy treatment. Therapy is very effective when it comes to dealing with concussions, sprains, or groin pulls.
Amputation is a life-changing experience—having to live without a limb can prove to be difficult, both physically and mentally. Physical therapists can work toward helping amputees by getting them used to their artificial limbs. It’s kind of like learning to walk or using your hands properly all over again.
Furthermore, amputees often experience something called phantom pain. It’s kind of like feeling pain that’s not really there. The pain is often associated with the amputated limb and is usually a psychological issue. It is quite stressful for the patient, and therefore, there are a number of treatments physiotherapists provide to patients to help deal with this.
The Benefits of Physical Therapy
Having discussed the range of conditions that physical therapy can treat, it’s now time to look at how it benefits you as a patient. Obviously, it’s better than taking medicine and stressing your body out. However, there’s more to it than that.
- Reduces the Need for Painkillers
It’s common for anyone with a history of chronic pain to have a list of strong, prescribed painkillers that reduce the pain—but just for a while. With physical therapy, you can easily manage your pain and sometimes completely get rid of it. It will gradually eliminate your need to keep going back to painkillers, thus keeping your body stress-free.
- May Help You Avoid Surgery
For many cases of chronic pain, doctors will often recommend surgery for permanent pain relief. However, this just increases the need for further rehabilitation. Since physical therapy can easily help relieve and manage pain, you won’t need to go under the knife.
- Helps Improve Motor Function
Physical therapy includes a lot of physical exercises over a long period of time. All these exercises slowly condition the body, improving mobility or motor function. It does take time and effort, but the results are definitely worth it as they are long-lasting.
- Improves Rehabilitation
Patients who suffered injuries, strokes, or other conditions can expect to effectively rehabilitate themselves in a matter of months with physical therapy.
Physical therapy involves a lot of massaging and movement, which stimulate the body’s system. This stimulation ensures that the body’s mechanisms are active, and that, in turn, helps the body and mind recover much faster.
- Useful for Aged Patients
Finally, physical therapy is great for the elderly. They are the most prone to suffer from cardiovascular and muscular problems. With age, the body tends to lose its functionality. A little bit of physical therapy will keep the body active, thus boosting metabolism and slowing down the degeneration process.
All in all, physical therapy can help deal with a lot of things that would have otherwise hampered the quality of life of many patients out there. Not only does it help you manage pain, but it also reduces the amount of medicine you need to take and keeps your body’s metabolism running at a healthy rate.
Hope this article helped you learn more about the benefits of physical therapy and has increased your willingness to try it out for yourself. Stay healthy!