What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy addresses the functional limitations resulting from injuries and diseases, affecting the muscles, joints and bones, as well as neurological (brain, nerves, spinal cord), respiratory (lungs), circulatory (blood vessels) and heart systems.
The role of physical therapy is to help recover the maximum physical capabilities based on the patient's own recovery potential. To achieve this, the physical therapist uses a variety of treatments, such as massage, regulated exercise, electrotherapy (electricity), hydrotherapy (water) and thermotherapy (heat or cold).
These interventions, focused on the patient's self-responsibility, allow the acquisition or restoration of physical capacities necessary for social integration, activities of daily life and fulfillment of a job, a hobby or a sport.
When Physical Therapy Can Help?
Whatever your age, physical therapy can provide effective solutions tailored to your needs:
- Car accidents
- Post-surgical care
- Sports injuries and rehab
- Neck pain
- Lower back pain
- Arm and leg pain
- Exercise management
- Gait and balance disorders
- Foot disorders
What Does a Physical Therapist Do?
On the first meeting the physical therapist will draw a picture of your condition, of your abilities and your physical functions. He/she will ask about the reasons that lead you to the clinic, take note of your medical history (current health problems, allergies, medical history, medical tests, list of your medications) and will ask you to identify all your symptoms and limitations with which you are struggling in your daily life.
During that same visit, the physical therapist will also conduct physical tests enabling him or her to analyze the problems that affect you, to establish the cause and make a diagnosis.
Following that review the physical therapist will inform you of the results and tell you what might help you regain, maintain or maximize your physical abilities and functions. He/she will establish with you a realistic treatment plan that will suit your condition while meeting your expectations and goals. This plan will include treatments that can begin as early as this first meeting or at the next meeting.
In addition, he or she may give you specific advice and instructions related to your condition so that you will be an active part of your rehabilitation.
Is Physical Therapy Safe?
Physical therapy is a vital component of recovery after illness, injury or surgery, but as with any medical intervention, participation in physical therapy is no guarantee of recovery or complete resolution of symptoms. In front of apparent lack of outcome, you might be tempted to give in to discouragement. However, it is important to stay the course.
You may also experience some pain, and it may actually increase as you rehabilitate and recover, leading to confusion and lack of motivation to continue.
Swelling is another common side effect of physical therapy. As your therapist challenges your muscles, ligaments and tendons to strengthen them, your body may respond with increased swelling.
It is essential to discuss all these issues with your therapist. He or she will determine if alternate treatment interventions would help alleviate pain and help control swelling, and recommend solutions to allow continued participation and get the maximum benefit from your physical therapy.