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What Is Physical Therapy?

October 9, 2023


Physical therapy: chances are you’ve heard this term thrown around before. But what exactly is it, and how can it help you? If you have such questions, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve put together this handy guide that covers what physical therapy is and what to expect when going for it. Let’s take a closer look at this option for your healthcare at Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center.

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What Is Physical Therapy?

To put it simply, physical therapy is a component of your healthcare that focuses on restoring and maintaining physical functioning and mobility. This type of therapy uses a wide range of therapeutic techniques and exercises that help to reduce pain, improving your flexibility, strength, and balance. At your initial physical therapy appointment, you can expect to start with an assessment and a diagnosis, which are developed into a personalized treatment plan that helps address your unique needs and goals in a way that is achievable for you. The treatment plan is continually adjusted based on your progress and feedback.

The Role of a Physical Therapist

Becoming a physical therapist requires extensive education and training. The therapists at OMHC hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, which involves rigorous coursework and clinical rotations. Their expertise in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and therapeutic techniques equips them to provide comprehensive care to patients. Physical therapists will focus on fostering a great patient-therapist relationship that address the physical aspects of treatment but also on the emotional and psychological well-being of their patients.

Techniques and Modalities Used in Physical Therapy

One of the cornerstones of physical therapy is therapeutic exercise. These exercises are designed to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. They may include resistance training, stretching, functional movements, and stabilization exercises, among others. Another therapeutic technique is manual therapy. This is when physical therapists use hands-on techniques to manipulate muscles, joints, and soft tissues. Joint mobilization, massage, and myofascial release. At time your physical therapy sessions may use electrical stimulation and ultrasound therapy. These are used to facilitate healing and pain relief. Electrical stimulation can stimulate nerves and muscles, aiding in muscle reeducation and pain management, while ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to promote tissue repair and reduce inflammation.

Injury Rehabilitation and Post-Surgery Recovery

A few key ways that physiotherapy helps with injury rehabilitation and post-surgery recovery include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Sports Injuries and Rehabilitation: Athletic injuries are an unfortunate occurrence.  Physical therapy can rehabilitate these injured athletes so they can get back to playing. With targeted exercises and functional training, physical therapists assist athletes in regaining strength, agility, and coordination. Physical therapy also helps to strengthen the muscles that were injured or were around the injury to help prevent a reoccurrence, making the athlete that much stronger in the process.
  • Orthopedic Surgeries and Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is a crucial component for successful recovery after orthopedic surgeries such as joint replacements or ligament repairs. Physical therapists guide patients through the rehabilitation process, focusing on regaining range of motion, strength, and function while preventing complications.
  • Managing Chronic Pain through Physical Therapy: Physical therapy offers a holistic approach to managing chronic pain by addressing its root causes, improving mobility, and teaching patients coping mechanisms to enhance their daily lives. Those suffering from chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis, can therefore find relief through physical therapy.

Addressing Myths and Misconceptions about Physical Therapy

There are various myths and misconceptions surrounding physical therapy; let’s debunk a few:

Myth 1: Physical Therapy Always Involves Pain

While some therapeutic exercises and manual techniques may cause mild discomfort, the entire point of physical therapy is not to inflict pain but rather to get rid of it. Physical therapists are trained to assess each patient’s tolerance levels and tailor treatment plans to ensure progress without unnecessary suffering.

Myth 2: Physical Therapists Are Only for Athletes or Serious Injuries

Physical therapists cater to a diverse range of patients, including those with mild injuries, chronic conditions, and even individuals seeking preventive care. Their expertise isn’t just for athletes or those recovering from serious injuries—that’s just part of it! Whether you’re recovering from a minor sprain or managing a chronic back problem, physical therapy can help you, no matter your age or activity level.

Myth 3: Physical Therapy Is Only Effective in the Short Term

Some people believe that physical therapy provides only temporary relief and that the effects wear off once the treatment is completed. In truth, evidence-based physical therapy interventions can lead to long-lasting results. The long term effectiveness of physical therapy lies in addressing the root causes of conditions, promoting healing, and teaching patients techniques to prevent future injuries or relapses. Physical therapists equip patients with knowledge and tools to maintain their progress even after therapy concludes.

Myth 4: Physical Therapy Is Too Expensive

Cost can be a significant concern for individuals seeking healthcare services. However, investing in physical therapy can often save money in the long run. By addressing issues early on, physical therapy can prevent more extensive injuries & interventions, such as surgeries or prolonged medical treatments. Many healthcare plans cover physical therapy services, making it a more accessible and cost-effective option for patients.

Myth 5: Physical Therapy Is Just Exercise

Exercise is definitely part of physical therapy, but like many things, exercise isn’t a cure-all. Because of this, physical therapists use a multifaceted approach that can cover manual therapy, education, modalities, and patient-specific treatment plans. They consider the whole person, including lifestyle, habits, and individual goals, to create a comprehensive strategy for recovery and well-being. Your physical therapist might say that a daily stretching plan works better for you than exercises you have to do once a week, for example. Your physical therapist will talk with you beforehand about the treatment plan to make certain you’re up for the amount of exercise that is part of it, so any concerns you have can be brought up before the treatment begins.

At Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center, our Therapy Team includes physical therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy.  If you or someone you know my benefit from Physical Therapy or Occupational and Speech Therapy please reach out to us to lean how we help you along your health journey.