A physical therapist is a trained medical professional that works with individuals after surgery or an injury to restore strength, activity, and range-of-motion. The physical therapist usually teaches their patients specific techniques, exercises, and stretches that can be performed with or without special equipment.
By definition, physical therapy aims to promote physical activity and maintain the proper functioning of body organs and tissues. Physical therapists operate in a wide range of clinical settings, including private practices, rehab centers, home health, fitness and sports fields, and outpatient offices.
Physical therapists assist patients through their recovery journey to completion. The recovery journey consists of diagnosis, prevention, and restorative phases of recovery.
Additionally, physical therapy can be used alone or to augment other treatment options to heal an injury. Physical therapy has numerous benefits such as maximizing the performance of athletes, improving movement and balance, managing age-related illnesses or conditions, and expediting recovery from trauma. For more insight into achieving a successful physical therapy experience after an injury, review this list of tips for a speedy recovery.
Physiotherapists sometimes prescribe mobility aids to individuals with injuries that limit their range-of-motion. Mobility aids help patients maintain balance and master coordinated body movement after an injury.
While some mobility aids ease movement and boost a patient’s quality of life, old-fashioned walking aids can negatively affect a patient’s posture and have detrimental effects on their overall physical health. Modern upright walking aids such as The Perfect Walker reduce the strain exerted on a patient’s back, neck, wrist, and hands.
The device prevents hunching or unnecessary bending while walking and distributes a person’s weight across the arms and shoulders, unlike old-school mobility devices known to place undue pressure on wrists and hands. The Perfect Walker’s frame provides ample room for a patient to step and big wheels that allow the disabled user to glide across flat surfaces. Additionally, the device is equipped with a seat and back support that promotes good posture and ensures user comfortability.
Learn from and listen to the physical therapist
During physical therapy, it is the physical therapist’s responsibility to examine a patient’s body as a whole instead of focusing on individual elements of an injury. To encourage a quick recovery time, physiotherapists give general advice to improve a patient’s physical well-being. A physiotherapist often suggests routine exercises or stretching as part of treatment.
Along with prescribing at-home exercises, physiotherapists advise a patient on how to safely complete everyday activities to minimize the likelihood of an injury or pain. One should stay committed to treatment options offered by the physical therapist, whether in the form of posture adjustments or home exercises.
Stretching the joints and tightening muscles
Patients who have sustained an injury can improve their muscles flexibility and the range-of-motion of their joints through stretching exercises. Tight muscles and stiff joints can make normal activities like reaching overhead and climbing stairs challenging. Therefore, with proper stretching as directed by a physical therapist, routine tasks can be performed.
A physical therapy patient should engage in activities that involve whole-body movement, such as swimming and walking. These exercises will expedite the recovery of an injury that limits your mobility.
After surgery or injury, scar tissue around the site forms, leading to soft tissue contraction. The contraction limits muscle movement, making simple activities challenging. Therefore, it’s critical to stretch frequently after an injury to ensure that scar formation doesn’t affect physiotherapy’s success.
Completing resistance and other strengthening exercises boosts your muscles’ function, as the main objective is to increase strength and endurance. Additionally, activities under the direction of a physiotherapist can significantly improve a patient’s range-of-motion.
Due to the risk of injury associated with performing these exercises after surgery, a physician or physical therapist should guide and supervise your exercise routine. With the right guidance, these exercises can correct the injury. If performed improperly, some exercise routines can damage or limit the healing process of your injury.
One can exercise under warm and shallow weather during aquatic therapy to avoid sustaining further injuries. During aquatic therapy, a physical therapist will incorporate resistance training to strengthen the muscles. As an additional benefit, the water can support and relax the joints and muscles of a patient, promoting function and mobility.
Core strengthening is an innovation in physical therapy designed to increase a patient’s overall strength and reduce the risk of injury. Core strengthening suggests that if one builds a house (in this case, a body) with a strong foundation, the likelihood of collapse or damage minimizes.
Some of these core strengthening exercises include pilates, a low-impact exercise that tremendously increases a patient’s body core stability. Professional athletes build their core by performing these exercises, as they target the pelvis and back muscles necessary for throwing, swimming, leaping, etc. Whether the patient identifies as an athlete or not, these core-strengthening exercises will promote a successful recovery.
Physiotherapists often use acupuncture, ultrasounds, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). These techniques encourage a patient’s quick recovery and reduce pain experienced through the recovery journey. TENS, in specific, uses a device that delivers electric currents to the site of injury.
By contrast, an ultrasound depends on sound waves of high frequency to stimulate cell activity and deep tissues’ blood circulation. Ultrasound accelerates the rate of recovery and reduces spasm and pain caused by the injury sustained.
Manual therapy is a physiotherapy technique that involves the use of the hand to massage, mobilize, and manipulate body tissues. The method alleviates stiffness, muscle pain, and improves muscle movement while increasing blood circulation and relaxing the patient. A well-trained physical therapist will often combine these techniques with the RICE method that includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation to promote a speedy recovery.
Rest is an essential component of a person’s healing process. Without proper rest, inflammation could worsen, predisposing one to further injury. Ice packs encased with a cloth should be applied to the site of injury and should be paired with elevation. Elevation helps minimize swelling by decreasing blood flow to the location of the damage. Compression can also reduce pain and inflammation.
While every physical therapist will implement a different approach, recovery should be a patient’s utmost priority. Recklessness and negligence can cost a patient their full range-of-motion and may even lead to chronic pain. To minimize the risk of long-term injury, follow your physiotherapist’s instructions accordingly.