Physical Therapy: What is it Good For?

You’ve heard of physical therapy. Maybe you’ve even known someone who saw a physical therapist for a while. But have you ever thought about what it actually does?

Well, the answer is pretty much what you might expect. Physical therapy (PT) helps people recover or gain physical abilities that have either diminished or were impacted by a medical condition.

But while the basic definition is simple, it has a ton of benefits and many different capabilities. Let’s take a deeper dive into the topic.

Who is PT for?

Anyone may require or benefit from a physical therapist’s care at some point. This type of therapy is used to help patients for a variety of reasons, including recovery after a serious illness, physical impairment of some sort, a medical condition that causes limitations with mobility or function, and even sports injuries.

Many times, therapists offer specialty care for a subset of patients, such as the elderly, pediatric patients, or athletes. This offers patients highly individualized care and knowledge of their specific needs.

Anytime your mobility (ability to walk or move) is negatively affected, you can benefit from seeing a physical therapist. Beyond that, physical therapists can also help patients prevent injury or limit the loss of function through specially targeted exercises.

What does physical therapy involve?

When you first begin physical therapy, the therapist’s first step is to evaluate and assess your abilities. This will typically involve an assessment of:

  • Range of motion
  • Flexibility
  • Joint mobility (how well you can move your joints)
  • Pain level
  • Strength
  • Functional mobility (overall ability to move)

Because many patients are experiencing diminished abilities because of a medical condition, your therapist will also review basics like neurological, cardiac, and pulmonary function to ensure that you’re healthy enough to complete physical therapy exercises. This information will also guide the therapist as he or she decides what strategy will work best for your specific needs.

Based on this initial evaluation, your therapist will formulate a rehab plan for you designed to help you regain abilities or limit further decline. This plan is not set in stone — as you meet goals, the goals will be redefined.

Physical therapy may include a variety of therapies, including manual therapy-specific exercises, heat, ice, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation. During the course of your rehab, your therapist will likely walk you through exercises to perform during sessions as well as assign exercises to do at home to continue improving.

How does PT help?

Working with a physical therapist can benefit patients in a number of ways. This varies from person to person depending on individual needs, but in general may include pain management, improved ability to move and walk, fall prevention, improved balance, and more.

Thanks to these benefits, physical therapy can help patients avoid surgery, recover after an injury or surgery, and recover abilities after a stroke or other paralysis. In addition, for older adults feeling the effects of aging, physical therapy has been shown to help slow down normal age-related issues with mobility, balance, and walking.

Each Erlanger Physical Therapy location offers comprehensive evaluations, screenings, and treatments, including:

  • Post-surgical care and pre-surgical therapy to optimize surgical outcomes
  • Sports injury rehabilitation
  • Acute injury rehabilitation
  • Manual therapy
  • Treatment for low back pain and neck pain
  • Vestibular rehabilitation (balance disorders)
  • Concussion management
  • Therapeutic modalities including taping, Astym® soft tissue therapy, and dry needling, a treatment approach to reduce myofascial pain and improve motor recruitment

With seven convenient locations, we offer access to world-class physical therapists who are certified in a broad range of specialties. If you believe you could benefit from working with a physical therapist, talk with your doctor or learn more about physical therapy services at Erlanger here.