The many benefits of physical therapy include helping you regain function after an injury or illness.
If you’ve injured yourself, whether it’s a sprain or muscle strain, a torn ligament or broken bone, or if you have a physical condition that affects the flexibility and mobility of your joint, you may be tempted to go to bed to relieve your discomfort and regain your strength. But while rest is sometimes recommended, it can put you at risk for loss of function, muscle stiffness, and blood clots.
Physical therapy may be a better option when it comes to relieving pain, helping you get back into shape, and preventing disability.
And that’s not all when it comes to the benefits of Physical Therapy, for example, it can help rehabilitate you after a serious event, such as a heart attack or stroke, prevent you from needing surgery, and help you learn to use assistive devices, such as canes, crutches or walkers, and limb prostheses. Another benefit of physical therapy is that it can restore your sense of emotional well-being.
What is involved in physical therapy?
A physical therapist will assess your mobility, balance, and strength before creating your physical therapy treatment plan.
Depending on your individual needs, your regimen may include simple stretches and range-of-motion exercises. You may not actually have to do these exercises yourself; for example, after knee replacement surgery , you can use a continuous passive motion machine, which automatically brings your knee to a range of motion without having to use the muscles.
Another approach to physical therapy is massage, which can be used to help relieve a muscle spasm or manipulate a joint.
Heat compresses and cold compresses can be used. Cold packs can reduce swelling in an injured or arthritic joint, while the heat promotes blood circulation, which can help the body’s healing process before strength and flexibility exercises. Ultrasound can be used during heat treatment, and its use as an imaging technique can provide heat to the deepest tissues of the body.
Water therapy is an approach that can be particularly beneficial when it comes to arthritis in the body’s large joints. Hot water provides buoyancy, supports your weight and relieves stress on arthritic joints while working on your flexibility and strength.
Other “accessories” that can be used during physical therapy include weights, resistance bands, balance balls, and medicine balls.
Specific Benefits of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is not just physical and incorporates a variety of specialties, including:
- Neurological therapy can be used to help people who have suffered a stroke or spinal cord injury, as well as people with dementia or other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
- Vestibular therapy is used to help people whose inner ear, which plays a vital role in their balance and coordination, has been damaged. Physical therapy can help your brain adjust and compensate, as well as help you achieve a posture that is less likely to cause loss of balance and educate you about safety.
- Hand Therapy: A physical therapist who specializes in hand therapy may work with you if you have repeated hand stress injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, or rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. They can also help you learn how to compensate for damage to the nerves in your hands, amputation of your fingers, and use of your hands if they were severely injured or burned.
- Amputation rehabilitation: A physical therapist can show you how to care for your affected limb, train you on how to walk using assistive devices, and help you as you become accustomed to wearing and using a prosthesis.
- Cardiopulmonary Therapy: People who have had a heart attack, have heart disease or heart failure, or have had heart surgery may benefit from this type of physical therapy, which will help you learn to exercise enough without getting exhausted or causing your heart rate to rise above a safe level.
- Geriatric Physical Therapy: This is very useful for older people who may be dealing with age-related physical deterioration and pain due to wear and tear on their joints. Fall prevention is an important part of geriatric physical therapy, and your therapist can also teach you how to fall safely if you trip or lose your balance.
- Lymphedema Rehabilitation: Lymphedema is an inflammation that typically affects the arms or legs if the lymphatic system is damaged and lymphatic fluid cannot drain. It is common for women who have their lymph nodes removed during mastectomy to have lymphedema. A physical therapist who specializes in lymphedema rehabilitation can help people with this condition learn how to relieve swelling.
- Osteoporosis rehabilitation: If you are at risk for osteoporosis , a physical therapist can create a weight-bearing exercise program that will help you maintain your bone density.