What is Physical Therapy?
Dr. Adam M Cramer, PT, DPT
How can physical therapy improve your quality of life? Physical therapy is the field of medicine that is devoted to restoring and improving human movement. Physical therapists achieve correct posture and spinal alignment by reducing pain and using physical methods such as strength training, massage and using the body’s natural healing processes. Physical therapists are experts in movement, kinesiology (study of human movement) and functional independence. Physical therapists help people of all ages and skills to improve strength, restore mobility and reduce pain. Restoring mobility and pain-free movement is crucial to an individuals ability to participate and perform in recreational and work duties, as well as improving their quality of life and overall health. This leads to reduced risk of falls and reduced risk of stroke and heart attack1.
In many cases, physical therapy has been shown to be just as effective as surgery when treating a wide variety of conditions from low back pain, shoulder issues and knee arthritis2,3. How wonderful to be able to participate in several weeks of non-invasive therapy to get the same outcomes as an invasive, costly and risky surgery!
Unfortunately, there are misconceptions about physical therapy that may discourage people from seeking the skilled guidance of a licensed therapist. Some misconceptions include: insurance coverage, physician involvement, preconceptions about pain, not understanding what physical therapists are capable of treating, clinical indications and therapists’ education.
In all 50 states of the U.S., a physical therapist can perform a physical therapy evaluation without a physician referral. By participating in a physical therapist evaluation, you will learn what physical limitations you have and how they relate to your pain or limited independence and how to correct them.
Physical therapy is typically a covered service by most insurance policies. For people that have Medicare, services are covered at 80% and the other 20% is covered by a supplemental policy if you have one. Other insurance policies may even cover physical therapy costs at 100% making it a very affordable alternative to costly surgeries3. Insurance companies recognize the significant value physical therapy holds in the medical field.
Physical therapy is not only for injuries or accidents. The skilled physical therapist is able to evaluate and diagnose potential issues before they lead to more serious injuries or falls. A physical therapist can improve the joint function in one joint to impact the functional performance of another. For example, if you are having pain in your back related to vertebral dysfunction, the therapist can improve the joint mechanics and muscle action of your low back, and further improve the joint mechanics of your hips and knees, reducing potential complications down the road. All treatments are specific to the individual needs and vary person to person with the ultimate goal of eliminating pain and restoring natural movement.
Physical therapist are capable of and license to treat numerous physical disabilities Including orthopedic conditions such as: pre- and post- joint surgery, chronic pain, knee injury including ACL and meniscus tear, joint sprain, arthritis, back pain related to disc herniation, vertebral fractures, spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, frozen shoulder, rotator cuff tear, hand injuries, bursitis, muscle strain, plantar fasciitis/foot pain and Neurologic conditions such as: stroke recovery, peripheral neuropathy, balance impairment, progressive neurologic conditions including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, headaches, vertigo all utilizing our bodies own natural healing abilities. By incorporating state of the art treatment techniques including laser therapy and trigger point dry needling, manual hands on skills, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization and private education/training so clients understand exactly what is occurring and how they can alleviate symptoms by themselves.
A licensed physical therapist or physical therapist assistant can only deliver and provide physical therapy services. Physical therapists are highly educated Doctors of Physical Therapy that possess a thorough understanding of the human body’s anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and health conditions. All therapists participate in yearly continuing education to maintain their state license to practice. Many therapists hold board certifications for specific areas of medicine including: neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, pediatrics, cardiovascular-pulmonary, sports enhancement, research and women’s health.
Physical therapy is not something that can be done on your own or by any other health/medical practitioner. You need the critical and trained eye of a licensed doctor of physical therapy in order to assess and determine appropriate diagnosis, limitations and treatments . So, if you have never sought the guidance and direction from a therapist, what is keeping you away? Call a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy in order to become pain-free FAST!
Dr. Adam M Cramer, PT, DPT is a licensed physical therapist and the owner of MyoFit Clinic in Middlefield, Ohio.
- Effects of a Fall Prevention Exercise Program on Muscle Strength and Balance of the Old-old Elderly. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4242952/. Nov. 2014
- http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/common-knee-surgery-may-not-help-you-study-finds-n376556. June 16, 2015.
- Physical Therapy or Advanced Imaging as First Management Strategy Following a New Consultation for Low Back Pain in Primary Care: Associations with Future Health Care Utilization and Charges.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/25772625. June 2015.