If you think physical therapy is just for accidents and injuries, you could be missing out. The truth is that it can help you with any condition that makes moving more difficult.
Physical therapists are licensed professionals who work with children and adults at any stage of life, from infancy to old age. That can include patients who need treatment for specific ailments, athletes, and anyone who is trying to stay healthy and fit.
The process may also be easier than you think. While there can be some initial discomfort, the goal of physical therapy is to reduce aches and pains, and many issues can be resolved with only a few visits.
See if physical therapy can help you. Find out more about its benefits and how to get started.
Benefits of Physical Therapy:
- Heal naturally. In some cases, physical therapy can prevent the need for surgery and prescription drugs with harmful side effects. Even if you do need an operation, it will probably shorten your recovery time.
- Manage chronic conditions. More than 40% of Americans have at least one chronic condition. Your doctor may suggest physical therapy as part of your treatment for diabetes, cancer, obesity, headaches, or other issues.
- Remain independent. Mobility issues are one of the most common disabilities among seniors. Physical therapy can help slow down the effects of aging, including muscle loss and stiff joints, so you can walk and bend more freely.
- Play sports. Most sports injuries are the result of overuse or trauma to muscles and joints. Targeted exercises can be used for both rehabilitation and prevention by addressing underlying weaknesses and instability.
- Earn a living. Workplace accidents can happen anywhere. If you slip and fall on the job, physical therapy could help you hold onto your career and paycheck.
- Be proactive. Another major advantage of working with a physical therapist is the opportunity to play an active role in taking care of your wellbeing. You learn strategies that work with your lifestyle and abilities.
Working with a Physical Therapist:
- Find a therapist. Many patients receive a referral from their doctor. You can also use the American Physical Therapy Association’s website to find professionals in your area.
- Explore specialties. Just like doctors, some therapists focus on specific body systems or types of patients. You can find practices devoted to children or seniors, cardiac rehabilitation, or orthopedics.
- Determine your goals. Your first visit will be an assessment to develop your individual treatment plan based on what you want to achieve. Keep in mind that this could change over time.
- Consider additional therapies. You might find that your physical therapist offers a variety of other treatments that are also designed to make daily activities easier. Ask about ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and water therapy.
- Learn about your body. Physical therapy involves education as well as exercises. You’ll learn basic information about anatomy, kinesiology, and posture that can help you take care of yourself.
- Follow up. Your work continues after your sessions. You’ll be assigned exercises to do at home that will be essential to your progress.
- Check your insurance. Physical therapy is usually covered by insurance as long as it’s considered medically necessary. However, there will probably be a limit on the number of visits, and you may have to pay out of pocket for additional services like fitness classes.
Physical therapy can help you to protect your mobility and lead an active life. If you’ve been injured or have any issues that make daily movement uncomfortable, ask your doctor if physical therapy may be an option for you.