What is Physical Therapy?
Injuries sustained from an accident or surgery for a medical condition can be traumatic and stressful to the body. Sometimes, rest and relaxation isn’t enough for a patient to make a full recovery. In these cases, physicians may recommend physical therapy in order for the patient to regain their normal, full range of movement.
Physical therapy is a type of non-invasive treatment which helps make daily activities easier for patients who have been injured, have a health issue, or are recovering from surgery. These treatments often revolve around physical activities, including stretching and lifting.
A physical therapist evaluates each patient individually to determine the area or areas which need improvement, then develops a treatment plan so that the patient can restore full mobility.
Physical therapy is used for:
- Pre-operative patients
- Post-operative patients
- Spinal injuries
- Spinal conditions
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
- Treating Pain
Physical therapy may be recommended on its own, or as one aspect of a larger treatment plan depending on individual need.
Common Types of Physical Therapy
- Aquatic: Also known as ‘water therapy’ or ‘water therapy exercise’, aquatic therapy involves physical therapy treatment in a pool. This type of therapy is best for patients who have extreme pain during the same activities on land, a disability, or other medical condition which makes it difficult to exercise or stand on solid ground.
- Cold Therapy: Sometimes called ‘cryotherapy’, applying cold compresses or ice to the affected muscle or limb induces vasoconstriction, or a narrowing of blood vessels. This helps reduce inflammation to an area, numbs pain, and may reduce or stop muscle spasms. Cold and heat therapies are sometimes used on their own, or prior to an exercise therapy.
- Heat Therapy: Heating pads, heated gel packs, and other hot compresses are used during heat therapy. Heat stimulates vasodilation, or a widening of blood vessels, resulting in relaxed muscles and improved blood flow. Good blood circulation promotes healing, which is especially helpful for patients with significant injuries.
- Electrical Stimulation: Also known as ‘electrotherapy’, electrical stimulation therapy uses electricity to achieve a certain result. These results vary. Some types of electrical stimulation block and reduce the sensations of pain. Others help strengthen a muscle more quickly after exercise. Others help with healing wounds or reducing inflammation.
- Manual therapy: Manual therapy is a hands-on method of treatment. A highly trained specialist uses their hands to manipulate joints, muscles, and tendons. This hands-on approach aims to reduce pain, loosen tense muscles, and improve the function of joints.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasound therapy generally uses a device to transmit specific ultrasound waves into the affected part of the patient’s body. There are several different possible methods. One method heats the deep tissue for deep healing. Another method focuses on improving blood flow and relaxing muscle tissue.
Your primary care physician will know the best method for you, but remember that the final decision is always up to you.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
There are many benefits of participating in physical therapy sessions.
- Teaches patients how to manage their condition
- Can reduce pain in some cases
- Promotes flexibility and mobility
- Increases confidence
- Strengthens muscles
- Develops well-rounded fitness and wellness for every individual
- Helps avoid re-injury of muscles or causing new damage
A positive mindset, dedication, and practice are key to helping make any physical therapy treatment successful.
What to Expect at a Physical Therapist Appointment
Your first physical therapy visit will usually involve an evaluation, followed by the beginning of the treatment plan. The following sessions may educate and reinforce specific exercises, stretching routines, and care management techniques.
At most physical therapy sessions, you can generally expect to participate in one or more of the following:
- Low-Impact Aerobics Training
- Strength Exercises
- Exercises to Relieve Pain
Physical Therapy at Florida Medical Clinic
Recovering from surgery or a serious injury can be a long process, but you don’t have to do it alone. The goal of Florida Medical Clinic’s Physical Therapy Department is to restore not only your strength and movement, but your confidence and quality of life.
Our physical therapy program focuses on rehabilitation, prevention, fitness, and education. Equipped with these, you’ll be able to speed along your recovery and improve your health at the same time!