An Overview of Working with a Physical Therapist and How to Determine if You’re a Candidate for PT
Physiotherapy – more commonly referred to as physical therapy or PT – is a program that’s prescribed to patients who are recovering from surgery, injury, or an illness that has impaired their mobility and strength. The goal is to help patients regain their full range of motion, improve balance, reduce pain, and increase health and wellness.
Although some use the terms physical therapy and rehabilitation interchangeably, PT technically falls under the umbrella of rehabilitation services. It should also not be confused with physical rehabilitation, which is focused on helping individuals perform daily activities and is part of the physiatry branch of medicine.
Who Is a Candidate for Physical Therapy?
Considering that physical therapy can be used for any individual who needs professional guidance regaining mobility and strength, PT is beneficial for a broad base of patients. In addition to those who are recovering from surgery, PT may be prescribed for any of the following conditions:
- Severe skin injuries or conditions
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Sports-related trauma and injuries
- Muscular dystrophy
- Cerebral palsy
- Cardiopulmonary conditions
- Neurological conditions
- Musculoskeletal dysfunction
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Contacting a Physical Therapist
In most cases, patients don’t reach out to physical therapists as a first step. Typically, a patient is referred to a physical therapist by their orthopedic doctor or surgeon. For instance, at Mid-America Orthopedics, we offer physical therapy and rehabilitation services in-house for patients who are recovering from a recent surgery or injury. If your orthopedic doctor or surgeon believes your situation warrants PT, they will refer you internally.
Patients find the in-house referral system advantageous because it’s far more convenient than having to go to a third-party physical therapist. Another advantage is our physical therapists have access to relevant patient files, such as physician documentation, surgical notes, and all diagnostic and exam results, without waiting on a medical records request to be completed.
What to Expect During the First Physical Therapy Session
Every patient’s medical situation and physical ability are unique, so the first physical therapy session will differ from person to person. Keeping that in mind, physical therapists typically do the following during the initial session:
- Review the notes and diagnosis from your doctor or surgeon.
- Conduct a thorough physical exam.
- Speak with you about your condition and how you’re feeling.
- Discuss your therapy goals and what you’re hoping to achieve.
- Set short-term and long-term goals.
- Lead you through stretching and range-of-motion exercises.
- Lead you through exercises designed to improve balance, coordination, or strength.
- Deliver therapeutic massage to areas that are in pain or stiff.
- Apply heat and or ice therapy.
- Administer electric stimulation to mitigate pain.
- Provide a routine of at-home exercises and movements to perform at home.
Because physical therapy is a holistic process, it’s important to communicate about pain levels and if you feel your mobility improving. Based upon your feedback, your physical therapist will tailor the sessions as needed.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Those who are an active participant in PT and adhere to their physical therapist’s directions tend to improve on a shorter timeline than those who don’t. Physical therapy is a process where you get what you put into it. Those who fully commit generally see benefits like:
Contact Mid-America Orthopedics to See If Physical Therapy Is Right for You
If you feel you are a candidate for physical therapy due to decreased range of motion or chronic pain, the best course of action is to contact our office to set an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. Once they have had a chance to collect some medical history, perform an exam, and potentially order some tests, they will be able to tell you whether physical therapy is right for you.
Mid-America Orthopedics makes getting physical therapy and rehabilitation easy and convenient. Five of our locations offer rehabilitation, and all three of our local offices provide physical therapy. With a staff of over 20 licensed physical therapists and physical therapy assistants on staff, Mid-America Orthopedics should have no issue getting you scheduled with a PT professional.
To get started, email us using the contact form on our website or call us at (316) 630-9300 to speak with our scheduling department. For the convenience of our patients, we are typically able to offer same day or next day appointments.