Physical Therapy is a form of rehabilitation that applies the science of movement to the neuro-musculoskeletal system in order to improve function and quality of life. Physical therapists use a number of techniques such as therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, modalities, and patient education to help patients achieve their goals.
Therapeutic exercise, designed to improve the patient’s function and decrease disability, differs from traditional exercise as it takes into account the patient’s pain, injuries, and functional impairments. Patients who suffer from these tend to avoid movement and exercise due to fear of pain and fear of their condition getting worse. The opposite is actually true, the lack of movement will worsen their functional impairment and increase the risk of developing serious chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and depression. Therapeutic exercise helps to improve the patient’s functional condition and general health.
Manual therapy involves the use of the therapist’s hands or specialized tools to help improve healing, tissue function, and decrease pain. Treatment techniques may include soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, passive movements, and stretching. In most cases, treatments are tissue specific and focused in and around the area of dysfunction. The ultimate goal is to improve posture and alignment while decreasing pain in order to improve the patient’s ability to participate in a therapeutic exercise program.
Modalities are external devices used in conjunction with other physical therapy treatments to help decrease pain, inflammation, swelling, and improve circulation. Modalities may consist of heating and cooling devices, electrical stimulation, and/or cold laser treatments. These are adjunct therapies in order to help the patient participate in therapeutic exercise.
Patient education is necessary for everyone recovering from pain, injuries, and functional impairments. All patients will participate in a home program consisting of the exercises designed during the treatment session. Participation in the home program is vital to the patient’s recovery and the success of rehabilitation. Patients will receive individual one on one guidance for each exercise as well as a handout with pictures of the exercises to be performed most often on a daily basis.