Living Well: Physical therapy provides many benefits to overall health
Physical therapists at Memorial Regional Health are taking part in The American Physical Therapy Association’s annual campaign, “ChoosePT,” to educate the public about the benefits of physical therapy.
Danika Jost, physical therapist at Memorial Regional Health, said physical therapists “are movement experts who optimize quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care and patient education.”
Because physical therapy can improve the way you move your body, it also leads to many other benefits.
“When patients are free to move with less pain, they are able to be more active in exercise and activities that they enjoy, which can decrease obesity, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and many other chronic health conditions,” Jost said.
Here are some of the benefits patients experience through physical therapy.
Since 2015, physical therapists, also known as PTs, are trained at a doctoral level with the ability to thoroughly screen all the systems of the body to determine the potential source of pain, Jost said. Patients may come to PT for acute pain that started very recently after an injury or surgery, or chronic pain that has been present for long periods of time.
“PTs primarily treat pain as related to the musculoskeletal and neurologic systems; think bones, muscles and nerves. If pain is sourced from another system in the body, the PT is able to refer the patient to the appropriate medical provider for treatment,” she said.
Pain in muscles and bones is often related to how our bodies move throughout the day. Jost said PTs will treat patients to improve their movements and minimize pain.
“Movement is a researched and effective treatment for acute and chronic pain. By gradually returning patients to movement, patients are able to decrease levels of pain. PTs are also trained in pain neuroscience — the ‘why’ behind pain — and are able to educate patients about the way the body processes pain and give tools for pain management.”
Alternative to opioid medication
The American Physical Therapy Association promotes physical therapy as a safe alternative to opioids for pain management. Jost said opioids and other pain killers have an appropriate role to play in some cases, but “they only mask the symptom of pain instead of determining and treating the underlying dysfunction causing the pain.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even issued guidelines in 2016 that stated non-drug approaches, such as physical therapy, are the preferred treatment for chronic pain.
Improved overall health
Jost said movement can be essential in helping patients experience less pain, often allowing them to live more active lifestyles than they were before.
“Movement is imperative in leading a fulfilling and healthy life,” Jost said.
Helping patients return to their desired lifestyles is one of the reasons Jost loves her job.
“It is incredibly rewarding to see patients take accountability for their health and work towards a more pain-free lifestyle, returning to activities they love that promote independence in their lives,” she said. “To see a patient’s quality of life improve and their freedom of movement improve is such a gift.”
Memorial Regional Health offers physical therapy services to individuals of all ages in our community. From sports rehabilitation to general injury prevention and wellness, our team will work with you to develop a plan that best treats your condition.
For more information, call 970-824-5992 or go to memorialregionalhealth.com/healthcare-services/physical-therapy/ to learn more.
Results for all ages
Physical therapists are like the jack of all trades when it comes to the issues they can treat and the variety of patients they see.
“Physical therapy is beneficial for optimizing physical function in any age group; this includes conditions of the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, pulmonary and/or integumentary systems,” Jost said.
Here are some examples of the types of issues physical therapists can treat:
- Vestibular disorders that may be causing dizziness or vertigo.
- Treatment post-concussion with return to sport protocols and supervision.
- Rehabilitation post-stroke, spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury.
- Cardiovascular and pulmonary health to improve management of chronic conditions of the heart or lungs.
- Post-operatively after major surgeries.
- Pediatric PTs improve function of infants and children who may have compromised motor development.
- PTs with training in wound care are able to also treat patients with acute or chronic wounds.