Written by Allison Stringer MS, PT, FAAOMPT, CHA, and Clinical Director at Salem, MA
Every October we celebrate National Physical Therapy Month. This annual occurrence is our opportunity to raise awareness about the range of skills our Physical Therapists have and the important role they play in safe and effective pain management, recovery and rehabilitation.
Physical Therapists wear so many hats. They are detectives, psychologists, diagnosticians, educators, mentors, life coaches, personal trainers and cheerleaders (“You got this”). PTs use skills similar to chiropractors and massage therapists, and are movement experts and pain management specialists.
Physical therapists care for people of all ages and abilities. They diagnose and treat existing health conditions, but they also provide patient education, customize plans of care, and preventative treatments that can help people avoid many health problems before they occur.
Primarily, Physical Therapists restore function by decreasing pain, improving range of motion, and increasing strength and joint mobility. But they do so much more! Physical Therapist are generalists and specialists all wrapped into one. PTs are trained in many different areas to ensure optimal outcomes for patients.
- Kinesiology (movement and exercise)
- Massage therapist/chiropractor (joint and soft tissue mobilization/manipulation)
- Personal training (exercise and stretching)
- Pain management
What to Expect at Professional
During the initial evaluation, your Physical Therapist will utilize their detective skills reviewing your medical history and any referrals or notes from doctors, surgeons, or other healthcare workers. Next your Physical Therapist will actively listen as you present the history, onset of injury, and current presenting problems. You may be very thorough or succinct; your Physical Therapist will ask follow up questions to gain a better understanding of the problems while trying to identify specific causes. Your history will help your Physical Therapist identify what is causing the problem, develop a hypothesis that will help lead the evaluation and ultimately help them implement actionable problem solving methods.
After discussing the history and mechanism of injury, your Physical Therapist will assess your function and movements by observing your posture in standing and sitting as well as how you walk, bend and or actively move the injured body part. Your Physical Therapist may test passive range of motion, joint and muscle flexibility, strength, and use other neurological and special tests to help develop an accurate diagnosis.
Developing a Customized Recovery Plan
When the examination is complete, your Physical Therapist will discuss your diagnosis and together you will develop an individualized plan of care and outline your goals. Your Physical Therapist will educate on how to achieve the expected outcomes, help you understand factors that are contributing to your problem, and implement techniques to prevent pain and dysfunction. Your Physical Therapist will educate you, and when appropriate your family, about what to expect from the recovery process and how best to cope with challenges throughout the process.
At the end of the evaluation you will schedule follow up visits; typically 2 to 3 times per week from 4 to 8 weeks depending on the injury. During the follow up sessions you should expect to move! Physical Therapy will likely include exercises, stretching maneuvers, hands-on therapy to help increase your mobility, prevent further pain or injury, and facilitate health and wellness. Your Physical Therapist will be evaluating and recording your progress, modifying a plan of care and trying new treatments as needed as well as implementing an independent home exercise program.
What Happens after Recovery?
When you have met you goals, your Physical Therapist will transition you to a long term home exercise program. But just because you are no longer an active patient your Physical Therapist will always be available for questions, advice, and encouragement. Or, if you just want to let us know how you are doing; we love to hear your success stories!
By understanding what your physical therapist can do to help you, you can have realistic expectations about your rehab and a positive outcome with your physical therapy experience. As a patient at Professional, you can expect an individualized recovery plan, using the most state-of-the-art technology and practices to get you back to enjoying life.
If you are experiencing pain, contact Professional Physical Therapy for an assessment and/or physical therapy evaluation, so you can get your life healthier and more comfortable today!