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Physical Therapy

Rebuilding the Body

Physical therapy, while it can have enormous effects on both mind and bodily health, is focused on healing and restoring the body. Physical therapy is usually taken on by trained, licensed professionals, but under the supervision of physicians. The goal of physical therapy is to maintain physical health, strength and ability, and where possible, help increase it.

About PT

  • When do you need physical therapy?
  • Does physical therapy hurt?
  • How long will therapy be needed?

The Need for Physical Therapy

There are many situations when physical therapy may be called for. After an injury or illness, or a long period of inactivity, the body may have lost some degree of physical health and resilience. Whether recovering from heart surgery, a knee injury, or from spinal weakness, physical therapy is called on to return mobility and support carefully, with the intent of undoing damage that has already occurred.
In some instances, physical therapy is designed to teach new physical skills. In cases where illness or injury has done permanent damage, or where such technology as prosthetics require specific physical skill to function, a physical therapist works to teach patients to get the very best from their bodies and their supporting tools. In many of these instances, physical therapy can provide vital treatment without which the patient would live a more painful and severely restricted life.

Does PT Hurt?

Yes, physical therapy can hurt very much. Unlike many exercise programs, though, there’s no false belief that pain and suffering are good, or that they help a patient reach goals. Pain from PT is caused by demands placed on flesh, bone, joints and connective tissue. In some cases, the demands are placed as the body heals, and the injured or ill body responds with pain even as the practice and use from therapy encourages growth and healing. In other instances, a therapist is teaching an entirely new skill or way of moving, calling for effort and strength from parts of the body that have never functioned that way before. In those instances, the pain is no different than you would feel learning a new yoga movement or climbing a mountain for the first time: in other words you may hurt quite severely, but not dangerously or forever.

In a few instances, where therapy is designed to help a patient keep physical ability that is otherwise at risk of being lost, or learn life-skills with tools that will remain, pain may be with you forever. In those cases, the therapy is always pushing a bit harder than the body would prefer, to avoid having the body give up a skill or range of motion. That effort may always be uncomfortable.

How long will I Need Therapy?

In most instances, patients need therapy for only a short time. Minor injuries or illness can be resolved with limited therapy during weekly visits over a few months. However, some forms of therapy may take steady, daily attention over years, and even over a lifetime. The final answer is based on the illness, injury, of physical challenge being faced, and the best practices for supporting the patient’s health.

Finding a Physical Therapist

Most physical therapists are found through referrals. Your primary medical provider may send you to a therapist, your medical plan may recommend one, or you may refer to a professional agency for directions and recommendations. Many times, you won’t have to look at all: hospitals, clinics, and infirmaries often maintain their own staff of trained, supervised professionals used to working with the doctors and specialists already there.


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