Understanding physical therapy

physical therapyThe thought of a debilitating injury sends shivers down everyone’s spine. The possibility of being unable to function normally is terrifying to say the least. However, thanks to the branch of rehabilitative medicine, people can resume normalcy and in some cases, function even better than before. In the centuries past, physical therapy was referred to as a massage, manual therapy or water therapy by Hippocrates and medical gymnastics by Swedish practitioners in the 1800s.

For the longest time, this branch of medicine has been synonymous with sports figures. However, that assumption has been debunked with time and the diverse practice of physical therapy. Instances of rehabilitative medicine abound in our communities daily today. It is used on:

  • Orthopedic patients to help with lower back pain or knee injuries among others
  • Patients recovering from neurological conditions (stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson disease etc)
  • The elderly because of aging ailments (arthritis, osteoporosis, etc)
  • Burn victims (to regain function of the affected area)
  • Women to alleviate incontinence, pelvic floor dysfunction, and even to help in conceiving
  • Patients in need of palliative care

It is important, however, to know what to look for in a physical therapist. Just like in any other branch of medicine, there are facilities that have unprofessional practices or unprofessional staff. Suffice it to say, such places or people endanger you and hold you back from recovery. Here are some tips from Advanced Rehabilitation of Jersey City on what traits your therapist should possess:

  • is good at manual manipulation. This includes, but is not limited to, stretching and strengthening the area in need of work in both gentle and powerful motions. Work with someone experienced in handling your problem.
  • has proper communication skills that get you comfortable and at ease with him/her. The therapist should be able to give you clear instructions as well as listen to you.
  • can diagnose issues from your sessions. To do this, they must be up to date with your clinical diagnosis. This is important because their diagnosis can help other members of your medical team treat you better.
  • is compassionate and relates well with other members of his/her team. Your therapist needs to see you as a person and not just focus on the injury alone.
  • Is trained in fitness because then more care is given to ensure you are even more fit that you were before the injury.
  • Finally, ensure the provider is licensed, well equipped and staffed. Also, find a facility in your vicinity to prevent missing any sessions because of distance.

Good physical therapy can not only help you recover faster from injuries, it can prevent them from happening in the first place. It is important to mention here that you may have the best therapist but if you do not follow the instructions given, you may not achieve your full potential in recovery. You must therefore try to be a model patient. Start by listening to the therapist and following instructions. Do any recommended exercises over and above those that you do together. Eat right and maintain a healthy weight. Pace yourself per your therapist’s training instructions and do not do anything strenuous that may exacerbate your injury. If you work with your therapist and on yourself as well, your injury will be a thing of the past or at least, your quality of life will improve greatly.