The APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) defines Physical Therapists as “movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education”. Physical therapy addresses the impairments a patient may have, not just a medical diagnosis. These impairments impact a patient’s function and life activities.
Pain into your ankles or heels after a long walk? How about tightness behind your knees after a run? Feeling like you can’t turn your head while driving? Physical therapy can help by increasing a joint’s range of motion. PTs improve this via stretching, manual techniques, joint mobilization, and corrective exercise. Increased range of motion in a joint can improve your ability to reach for a coffee mug on top of the microwave, allow you to put on your shoes, and even be able to ride in a car for longer distances.
PT can improve your strength in multiple ways. Physical therapists prescribe strengthening exercises to improve your ability to control walking down your stairs, go from sitting to standing from a low seat with ease, perform lifting activities at work, and return to your favorite sport.
Finding yourself always holding your head up with your hand? Or even slouching on the couch for hours on end? How about pain after reading your phone or book for too long? Physical therapy can improve your posture. PTs work on strength and endurance training, along with corrective exercise, to ensure you are using the correct muscles for supporting your body structure long term.
Physical therapy can decrease your chance of having falls and improve balance overall. PTs can assess your ability to maintain upright walking and determine where your balance may need a tune up- especially if you lose your balance walking over grass towards your grandson’s soccer field, find yourself holding on to furniture while walking in the kitchen, or have even had a fall previously. PTs also assess for balance issues caused by vertigo or dizziness.
Are you having difficulty carrying laundry up the stairs like you used to? Or do you find yourself limiting your shopping trips from 30 minutes to 20? Are you tired more easily after physical activity that used to be a breeze? Physical therapy can also improve your endurance by working up your tolerance slowly and safely. This can allow you to be able to walk longer with your grandkids or clean your home without needing to take a break.
In conclusion, physical therapy can help with a lot of different things. PTs treat impairments like range of motion, balance, and strength, but as noted above, everything is driven by function and quality of life. Physical therapy can help you live a more active life with your family and friends, stay independent in your home, and allow you to perform your hobbies for years to come. It can get you back on the football field, back to work, and even back to your woodshop or craft room in the basement. Physical therapy gives you quality back into your life.
Hanna Kearney, PT DPT