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October is National Physical Therapy Month

Published: September 29, 2020

Each year, this celebration calls attention to the many ways physical therapists and physical therapy assistants help patients improve their mobility, decrease pain, recover from injury or illness, and live a healthier lifestyle.

Physical therapists provide medically prescribed treatment for restoring function to patients who are recovering from surgery or hospitalization. The goal is to help each patient attain their highest level of function through hands-on care, education, and a prescribed set of exercises and movement modifications.

Experts says that during the COVID-19 pandemic, some patients have hesitated to seek physical therapy. But there are enough challenges to remaining healthy and active these days without missing out on this important health resource! Reputable facilities such as Welbrook Centennial Hills are taking abundant precautions to protect patients as they recover. Today physical therapists are even providing therapy for patients who are dealing with longer-term effects of the virus, including heart, lung and circulation problems and the effects of a long stay in the intensive care unit.

Here are just a few procedures and conditions addressed by physical therapy:

Knee replacement. Knee replacement is one of the most life-enhancing procedures available, and one of the most common. More than 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States. Knee replacement is also one of the most successful surgical procedures, with 90 percent of patients reporting a dramatic reduction of pain. The most typical candidate for knee replacement is someone suffering from osteoarthritis. It may take as long as 12 weeks to recover to the point where a patient can return to normal activities. During this time, physical therapy is essential to helping ensure a full recovery. Rehabilitation begins almost immediately after surgery. Within the first 24 hours, patients begin standing and walking using an assistive device. The hospital stay usually only lasts a few days, after which physical therapy at a rehabilitation facility can be of great benefit.

Hip fracture. Every year, more than 250,000 people experience a hip fracture. Hip fractures reduce independence and may even shorten life. These fractures require surgery, with most patients typically remaining in the hospital from three to five days. After surgery, physical therapy is critical to a positive outcome and will include strength and balance exercises. Thomas Storer, a lecturer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, notes that people appear to do better in a professional rehab setting than with do-it-yourself rehab at home. Physical therapists can also help patients prevent another hip fracture by prescribing and supervising appropriate exercise, which can strengthen legs, improve balance, and reduce the risk of falling.

Stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 800,000 people suffer a stroke each year. For stroke patients, physical therapy can help tremendously. Rehabilitation helps them relearn the skills they may have lost as a result of the stroke and may include regaining motor skills and mobility through muscle strengthening, balance, and coordination exercises. Most people who have suffered a stroke are able to see at least some level of improvement through therapy. Many continue to improve over a long period of time and others can recover fully.

Pain. Whether a patient is dealing with surgery, an injury or a debilitating health condition, physical therapy can be a vital tool in pain control. In today’s health care climate, there is great emphasis on alternatives to pain control medications, especially opioid drugs—many of which were first prescribed for pain, only to lead to addiction. Physical therapists offer instruction in safe exercise, hands-on treatments such as massage and joint manipulation, and education about pain. Pain isn’t “all in our heads,” but how we think about pain can make a big difference. Physical therapists provide the confidence and reassurance patients need to exercise even as they’re dealing with arthritis or other painful conditions.

When it comes to the services provided by physical therapists, this is just the beginning! Physical therapy can be as effective as surgery in treating a wide range of conditions—from rotator cuff tears and spinal problems to osteoarthritis. If you are dealing with pain or disability, ask your doctor if physical therapy services are right for you.

Welbrook Centennial Hills offers a large and fully equipped therapy gym, providing each guest the space and the right equipment to facilitate recovery. Specialized orthopedic rehabilitation equipment, including weightless treadmills and advanced modality machines, is designed to increase strength and help with recovery.

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