Ever wonder exactly what physical therapy is and what it encompasses? Of course, many people have part of the equation correct. EXERCISE! Most people only think about exercise as the primary intervention when their doctor asks them to try physical therapy. However, here at Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, there is so much more to benefit from.
Why Do Physicians Prescribe Physical Therapy?
When a person experiences an acute injury or if they’re dealing with another issue such as debilitating pain, nerve damage, balance issues, etc., it usually leads to a visit to their physician. Many people assume their visit will end with a recommendation for some type of surgery or a prescription for pills. There definitely is a need for surgery in certain circumstances. However, it is an invasive procedure with potentially serious risks/side effects, not to mention an often lengthy recovery period. Pain pills can be very useful in treating a patient’s initial acute pain. Over time, however, they don’t do anything to treat the underlying source of pain.
This is why physicians often turn to physical therapy for their patients. Physical therapists are able to evaluate their patients to determine the source of their pain or other physical issues. They employ a broad range of non-invasive treatments, all designed to heal and strengthen so patients can get back on their feet again as quickly as possible. After physical therapy, many patients regain all the function they had prior to the injury. In more complex cases, physical therapy can dramatically improve one’s condition. It allows a person to maximize their physical abilities as they learn to work within their limitations.
How We Do It
So how do we approach your care? Here at CPTR, we take the patient’s concerns, limitations, expectations, and insight into consideration when examining and working with patients. We make our care patient-focused because we understand that each patient is an individual that has a unique set of circumstances and physical challenges.
We first evaluate our patients to find the source of their physical issue(s). Then we work hand in hand with each patient to find the aspects of their life that are affected by their pain and/or disability. Our goal is to make each treatment meaningful to the patient and an overall positive experience!
Since many of our patients are dealing with motion-limiting pain, we often begin treatment with a focus on pain reduction. By reducing patients’ pain levels, they’ll feel more comfortable. The injured area itself will start the process of preparing for the more advanced steps in the healing process, such as stretching and strengthening.
To reduce a patient’s pain levels, we typically begin with a variety of hands-on treatment methods. Hands-on methods such as gentle massage, cupping, instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM), and gentle stretching techniques can all assist in relaxing tight muscles and increasing blood flow to injured tissues. This, in turn, promotes healing. In order to protect the injury when a patient is at home, we may also employ techniques such as taping the injured area. This will keep it immobilized and protected from further injury.
Sometimes we’ll employ treatments such as ultrasound and/or electrical stimulation. These types of treatments are helpful for reducing pain, increasing blood circulation in and around the injured area, and increasing ROM (range of motion).
For some of our patients, we may also use a MicroVas laser treatment. This has been shown to be particularly helpful in encouraging nerve regeneration.
When our patients are ready for exercise, aquatic therapy can be particularly helpful for some. Aquatic therapy is ideal for healing. It allows a person to move injured parts of their body in a safe, non-impact environment. The inherent properties of warm water are also beneficial for circulation, pain reduction, fibromyalgia flare-ups, and safety (reduces fall risk).
Getting Back to Normal
Of course, everyone wants to get back to their pre-injury level of functioning as quickly as possible. For serious athletes, we can recommend top-notch footwear, along with specific stretching and strengthening exercises they can do at home so they won’t reinjure themselves. For seniors, along with ensuring their maximum physical abilities have been restored, we can also provide recommendations about how to make their home environment as safe as possible, so they won’t experience another slip or fall.
Communication Throughout the Process
Here at Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehab, we understand it’s important to listen to and clearly communicate with our patients. We want to help our patients understand why we recommend certain treatments. We want to help them see the appropriate progression of these treatments and exercises, all of which are designed to properly build strength, endurance, and perhaps most importantly, confidence in their abilities.
Even so, if a patient isn’t comfortable with an exercise, our therapists are happy to discuss the root cause of the issue and address it in a manner that is both comfortable and beneficial to the patient.
If a treatment is too painful, please let us know! If an exercise seems awkward, please feel free to bring it to our attention. At CTPR, we want our patients to feel as if they have direct access to, not only a comprehensive treatment plan, but a thorough understanding of how/why their plan is going to work to restore their confidence levels and their ability to function in life.
Contact us today to book an appointment!