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Physical Therapy //
Physical therapists are evidence-based health care professionals who offer cost-effective treatment that improves mobility and relieves pain, reduces the need for surgery and prescription drugs, and allows patients to participate in a recovery plan designed for their specific needs.
Avoid Surgery and Prescription Drugs
While surgery and prescription drugs can be the best course of treatment for certain diagnoses, there is increasing evidence demonstrating that conservative treatments like physical therapy can be equally effective (and cheaper) for many conditions.
Low back pain is routinely over-treated despite abundant evidence that physical therapy is a cost-effective treatment that often avoids advanced imaging scans like MRIs that increase the cost of care and the likelihood for surgery and injections.
Physical therapy has proven as effective as surgery for meniscal tears and knee osteoarthritis, rotator cuff tears, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disk disease, among other conditions.
Improve Mobility & Motion
Physical therapists are experts in improving mobility and motion. Pain-free movement is crucial to your quality of daily life, your ability to earn a living, your ability to pursue your favorite leisure activities, and so much more.
Movement is essential to physical activity, which is necessary to prevent obesity, which is responsible for at least 18% of US adult deaths.
Mobility is crucial for physical independence, and studies suggest that walking alone can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, hip fracture, and knee arthritis, among other benefits.
Consistent movement is vital to maintaining a healthy balance system, which can help prevent costly falls.
Participate in you recovery
Physical therapists routinely work collaboratively with their patients. Treatment plans can be designed for the patient's individual goals, challenges, and needs. Receiving treatment by a physical therapist is rarely a passive activity, and participating in your own recovery can be empowering. In many cases, patients develop an ongoing relationship with their physical therapist to maintain optimum health and movement abilities across the lifespan.
Physical Therapists Provide:
Intensive Education and Clinical Expertise
Physical therapists apply research and proven techniques to help people get back in motion. All physical therapists are required to receive a graduate degree – either a master's degree or a clinical doctorate — from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure examination that allows them to practice. State licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices. They are trusted health care professionals with extensive clinical experience who examine, diagnose, and then prevent or treat conditions that limit the body's ability to move and function in daily life.
More and more physical therapists are now graduating with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. More than 92% of the 210 accredited academic institutions nationwide offering professional physical therapist education programs now offer the DPT degree – and more than 75% of all 2008 PT graduates hold a DPT degree.
Caring to Suit Your Needs
Physical therapists provide care for people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes.
Physical therapists diagnose and treat people of all ages, including newborns, children, and elderly individuals. They may consult and practice with other health professionals to help you improve your mobility.
Easy Access to Professional Care
In most states, you can make an appointment with a physical therapist directly, without a physician's referral.
Your Physical Therapist Can Help You With:
Physical therapists are movement experts who treat a wide variety of symptoms and conditions, often while reducing the cost of care and avoiding surgery and prescription drugs.
What to Expect from a Physical Therapist
The Optimal Combination of Treatments
Blending science with inspiration, your physical therapist will teach you how to prevent or manage a health condition and help motivate you during your treatment so you can function optimally. Your physical therapist will work with you to help you understand your body so you will achieve long-term health benefits.
A Personal Wellness Plan Tailored for Your Needs
Your physical therapist will examine you and develop a plan of care using a variety of treatment techniques that help you move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Your physical therapist can also help you prevent loss of mobility and motion by developing a fitness- and wellness-oriented program tailored to your specific needs.
Your physical therapist may choose to team with a physical therapist assistant (PTA), an educated and licensed clinician working under the direction and supervision of the physical therapist, for components of your care.
Preparing for Your Visit with a Physical Therapist
Physical therapists are highly educated, licensed health care professionals who help patients improve or restore mobility, and in many cases helping patients reduce pain, and avoid the need for surgery and the long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects.
Physical therapists examine, evaluate, and treat patients whose conditions limit their ability to move and function in daily life. Your physical therapist's overall goal is to maintain, restore, or improve your mobility and help reduce your pain.
In most states, you can make an appointment with a physical therapist without a physician referral. Whether this is your first visit or you've been treated by a physical therapist in the past, there are things you can do to make your visit as successful as possible.
Before Your Visit:
Make a list of any questions that you have, to make the best use of your time with your physical therapist.
Write down any symptoms you've been having and for how long. If you have more than one symptom, begin with the one that is the most bothersome to you. For example, is your pain or symptom:
Better or worse with certain activities or movements or with certain positions, such as sitting or standing?
More noticeable at certain times of day?
Relieved or made worse by resting?
Write down key information about your medical history, even if it seems unrelated to the condition for which you are seeing the physical therapist. For example:
Make a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements that you are taking.
Make a note of any important personal information, including any recent stressful events, injuries, incidents, or environmental factors that you believe might have contributed to your condition.
Make a list of any medical conditions of your parents or siblings.
Consider taking a family member or trusted friend along to help you remember details from your own health history and to take notes about what is discussed during your visit. Make sure you can see and hear as well as possible. If you wear glasses, take them with you. If you use a hearing aid, make certain that it is working well, and wear it. Tell your physical therapist and clinic staff if you have a hard time seeing or hearing. If available, bring any lab, diagnostic, or medical reports from other health care professionals that may be related to your medical history or who have treated you for your current condition.
Bring a list of the names of your physician and other health care professionals that you would like your physical therapist to contact regarding your evaluation and your progress.
When you call to make your appointment, ask whether you should wear or bring a certain type of clothing when you come for your first visit. You may want to avoid tight or formal clothes, in case the therapist wants you to engage in activities during the first session.
Carefully review the clinic's financial policy prior to starting care. Be sure to ask questions if anything is unclear. If the financial policy is not presented at the time of your initial appointment, request it be provided and explained prior to the initiation of treatment.
The physical therapy clinic will ask you to sign the financial agreement. Review the agreement carefully and ask questions if anything is unclear.
Applicable deductibles and copayments will be requested prior to or upon completion of each appointment. It is important to pay the proper amounts at the time of service. This will help you to better manage your health care costs and avoid a large bill at the end of care.
If the frequency of visits needs to be adjusted for financial reasons, discuss this directly with your physical therapist. In partnership with your therapist, you can explore alternatives and develop a workable plan.
If you change insurance plans or lose insurance coverage for any reason, be sure to inform your therapist as well as the clinic’s front office staff.
What to Expect During Your First Visit:
Your physical therapist will begin by asking you lots of questions about your health and about the specific condition for which you are seeing the physical therapist. Detailed information about you and your condition will help the physical therapist determine whether you are likely to benefit from physical therapy and which treatments are most likely to help you.
Your physical therapist will perform a detailed examination. Depending on your symptoms and condition, the physical therapist might evaluate your strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, posture, blood pressure, and heart and respiration rates. Your physical therapist might use his or her hands to examine or "palpate" the affected area or to perform a detailed examination of the mobility of your joints, muscles, and other tissues.
Your physical therapist also might evaluate:
How you walk (your "gait")
How you get up from a lying position or get in and out of a chair ("functional activities")
How you use your body for certain activities, such as bending and lifting ("body mechanics")
Your physical therapist might ask you specific questions about your home or work environment, your health habits and activity level, and your leisure and recreational interests so that the therapist can help you become as active and independent as possible.
Your physical therapist will work with you to determine your goals for physical therapy and will begin to develop a plan for your treatment. In many cases, the physical therapist will make a diagnosis and begin treatment almost immediately.
One of the main goals of treatment is almost always to improve or maintain your ability to do your daily tasks and activities. To reach this goal, the physical therapist may need to focus on pain, swelling, weakness, or limited motion. Your physical therapist will constantly assess your response to each treatment and will make adjustments as needed.
In most cases, an important aspect of your physical therapy treatment will be education. Your physical therapist might teach you special exercises to do at home. You might learn new and different ways to perform your activities at work and home. These new techniques can help minimize pain, lessen strain, avoid reinjury, and speed your recovery.
Your physical therapist will evaluate your need for special equipment, such as special footwear, splints, or crutches. If the evaluation indicates that you are at risk for falling, your physical therapist might recommend simple equipment to help make your home a safer place for you. The therapist will know what equipment you need and can either get it for you or tell you where you can find it. If you do need special equipment, your physical therapist can show you how to use it properly.
Your physical therapist will communicate the important information from your examination to your physician and to other health care professionals at your request.
Your physical therapist will continually recheck your progress and work with you to plan for your discharge from physical therapy when you are ready. Make sure you talk with your physical therapist about what you should do after discharge if you have questions, or if your symptoms or condition worsen.
Keeping Your Appointments
Arrive for treatment sessions at the scheduled time or a few minutes early so you are prepared. Late arrival may affect not only your 1-on-1 time with the therapist, but that of other patients in the clinic.
Actively participate in the discussion to determine visit frequency and work in partnership with the physical therapist to achieve your treatment goals.
Show up for appointments. Failure to show for an appointment and not calling to cancel the visit may result in a fee and is disruptive to the physical therapist’s schedule. If an emergency prevents you from attending, try to provide adequate notice. It is important to review the facility’s financial and cancellation policy prior to the start of treatment.
If you plan to discontinue therapy or change the frequency of treatment because of personal or financial considerations, discuss this with your physical therapist.
You will get out of therapy what you put into it. Sufficient effort, as agreed between you and the physical therapist, is necessary to maximize benefit from each treatment session.
Observe all precautions as instructed by your physical therapist. This may include modifying an activity, reducing weight on 1 limb while walking, avoiding certain movements, or restricting use of a specific body part. Lack of compliance with treatment precautions may cause injury and result in delayed recovery.
If special devices such as splints, walkers, canes, or braces are provided for home use, follow the physical therapist’s exact instructions. Be sure to ask questions if you are unclear, as incorrect use may be harmful.
The therapist may advise physical modifications in your home such as removing throw rugs, rearranging furniture, and installing safety rails. For your safety, it's essential to comply with these recommendations.
Follow the home program as instructed by the physical therapist. Your ongoing performance and commitment to the home program is essential to your recovery.
If the instructions are unclear, ask for clarification. Only perform exercises at the therapist-specified repetition, frequency, and resistance (such as weight or resistance band color). More is not always better and may cause injury!
After your physical therapy care is completed, continue to follow the after-care instructions provided by the physical therapist.