Physical therapy is often the last step on the road to recovery, whether a patient has suffered a traumatic injury, undergone surgery or is making a comeback after an illness.
“The goal of physical therapy is to help patients return to their normal state of health, free from pain and suffering, so they can perform their daily activities with minimal difficulty,” explains Doug Hinton, manager of NorthBay Rehabilitation Services in Fairfield and Vacaville.
Physical therapists have the knowledge to help maximize their patients’ movement and function. They assess joint motion, muscle strength and endurance, heart and lung function and understand what each patient needs for daily living. They are state board-certified health care professionals who hold graduate degrees from accredited physical therapy programs. They study biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, and pharmacology and also complete clinical rotations, enabling them to gain supervised work experience in areas such as acute care and orthopedic care.
“Physical therapists have the manual skills to mobilize joints and soft tissue that individuals can’t perform on their own,” Hinton says. And the sooner the patient starts treatment, the better their chance for a good recovery.
A Bounty of Benefits
Many people think physical therapy is only available for injury recovery. The truth is that physical therapy treats a broad range of conditions. Some of those include:
- Orthopedic conditions, such as back and neck pain, headaches, and osteoporosis.
- Joint and soft tissue injury, including sprains and strains, fractures and dislocations.
- Workplace injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Arthritic conditions.
- Neurologic conditions, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
- Cardio pulmonary and circulatory conditions such as congestive heart failure, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
For more information, call NorthBay Rehabilitation Services at (707) 646-4150.
Scar tissue, which is the body’s natural response to immobilization, can form in joints or muscles within 72 hours, especially following surgery. Bed rest and a lack of movement will also cause muscles to atrophy. That’s one of the reasons your doctor wants you up and moving as soon as possible.
“When scar tissue builds up it can restrict movement,” Doug says. “A physical therapist knows the techniques necessary to help minimize scar tissue formation. An injury needs time to heal and a therapist’s intervention can help the healing process.”
Patients undergoing physical therapy may find their overall strength and health improve with long term work. But for any treatment to be effective, the patient must approach it with a positive attitude.
Studies show that a patient’s mental disposition also can affect their body’s rate of healing and its response to injury. Physical therapists help their patients stay motivated and hold them accountable for performing their exercises— something they miss trying to manage a program on their own.