WHAT IS PHYSICAL THERAPY?
Physical therapy is a primary care patient-focused health profession that is dedicated to:
- Preventing and managing pain, physical impairments, disabilities and limits to physical activity
- Improving and maintaining functional independence and physical performance,
- Promoting fitness, health and wellness.
Physical therapy’s unique contribution to health care stems from its advanced understanding of how the body moves, what keeps it from moving well and how to restore mobility.
WHAT DO PHYSICAL THERAPISTS DO?
Physical therapists assess a patient’s level of mobility, strength, endurance and other physical abilities to determine the impact of their illness or injury on their physical function, whether at work, rest or play. They diagnose the
condition and develop a treatment plan to restore movement and reduce pain or limitations to mobility. They treat the condition and help the patient understand its effect on their function. They measure the patient’s progress regularly and adjust the treatment accordingly. They also advise the patient on how to manage their condition independently and help the patient prevent avoidable recurrences or complications. Physical therapists can also advise you on ways to prevent potential health problems from occurring before they arise.
Physical therapists provide valuable health care for people across the life span from birth to older age. Hands On Rehab therapists primarily work in 3 practice areas: orthopedics, neurology and cardio-respiratory. The following
are examples of the types of conditions physical therapists may treat:
- Back and neck pain
- Sports injuries
- Repetitive strain injuries (i.e.: carpal tunnel, tennis elbow)
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Post‐surgical rehabilitation (i.e.: hip or knee replacement)
- Balance and Dizzyness
- Spinal cord injury
- Cerebral palsy
- Head injuries
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Chronic obstructive lung disease
- Post‐surgical rehabilitation (i.e.: cardiac, thoracic or abdominal)
- Cardiac Rehabilitation
- Cystic Fibrosis
Physical therapists also work in areas that span all three practice areas such as women’s health (including pre and post natal care, and other women’s health issues), incontinence, paediatric and senior’s care. They also help manage the physical complications of cancer and its treatment, and care for physical symptoms associated with arthritic conditions.
OTHER SPECIALIZED SERVICES
- Pain management
- Bell’s palsy
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Low back pain and pregnancy
- Post mastectomy care, and others
PHYSICAL THERAPY – HOW IT WORKS
Physical therapy involves using a variety of techniques to help your muscles, joints, heart and lungs work to their potential. Physical therapists work in partnership with individuals of all ages to break down barriers impeding physical function. Physical therapy can help individuals living with congenital or chronic diseases or other debilitating conditions and can assist hose recovering from: surgery; illness; neurological conditions such as stroke; injury; industrial or motor vehicle accidents; or age related conditions. The practice of physical therapy is drug-free.
Fundamental to a physical therapists’ approach is an appreciation of your role in your own care. Physical therapists work with you to integrate your care into your lifestyle. They are skilled in providing treatment, preventative advice, rehabilitation and care for people with long-term or terminal illness and will develop a full treatment plan to suit your unique needs.
Physical therapists are university-educated, regulated health professionals that play an important role within your health care team.
PHYSICAL THERAPY – WHAT TO EXPECT?
When you see a physical therapist, he or she will complete a thorough assessment that may include your health history, evaluation of pain and movement patterns, strength, joint range of motion, reflexes, sensation and cardio-respiratory status.
They will also examine relevant x-rays, laboratory tests, medical records and surgical notes. Based on this assessment, the physical therapist develops a diagnosis and works in partnership with you to plan individualized goals and treatment programs.
Physical therapists promote independence, including emphasis on how you can help yourself. For example, you may be shown exercises that you can do between treatment sessions and how to set goals to achieve results. Where appropriate, physical therapists also advise care-givers on how they can help you.
PT’s can also advise on other appropriate healthcare providers that patients should consult with for their particular condition.
WHAT CAN THE TREATMENT INVOLVE?
SOME TREATMENT OPTIONS:
- Strengthening and therapeutic exercise programs
- Mobility and flexibility improvement
- Improvements in muscle imbalances and alignment
- Balance retraining and movement coordination
- Manual therapy – intervention to reduce pain and stiffness and improve circulation
- Electrical modalities such as TENS (electrical nerve stimulation) or ultrasound
- Gait retraining and general conditioning regimes
- Acupuncture – some physical therapists are trained to use this technique to help alleviate your pain
Physical therapists are primary care practitioners for musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders offering direct access to physical therapy services without the need for physician referral. It is important to note that some extended health insurance plan require a physician’s referral in order to reimburse you for claims.