What Is Physical Therapy?
The aim of Physical Therapy is to aid the restoration of normal body function. It can be used to treat an injury or illness, to increase mobility, ease pain and improve the patient’s quality of life.
The types of condition that can be helped with physical therapy include bone and joint conditions, problems with the heart and lungs, conditions which impact on the functioning of the brain and nervous system, such as cerebral palsy, stroke or Parkinson’s Disease, childhood conditions, such as muscular dystrophy and problems that occur in old age.
Physical therapists help patients to overcome these medical obstacles using a variety of techniques, all of which are designed to aid mobility and restore balance. They tend to take a holistic approach, which means they will look at the whole body and how it is functioning in relation to a specific condition. Sometimes there are different causes of pain, which may not be located in the area feeling pain. Back pain, for example, can have several different causes, such as poor posture, bending awkwardly, or lifting incorrectly. The physical therapist will watch how a patient moves and suggests modifications to ingrained habits, which can alleviate pain.
The range of treatments available within Physical Therapy is considerable. A physical therapist may choose massage to improve the circulation, release tension and allow fluid to drain from the tissues more effectively. They can manipulate joints to improve mobility, at the same time as giving massage therapy.
Movement and exercise therapies play a large part in the treatment of certain conditions and can be targeted at specific areas of the body which need strengthening. For example, if an accident victim is recovering from surgery, a physical therapist will help them strengthen the limb that has been affected, by prescribing a series of movements to be repeated several times a day for a number of weeks or months, which build up muscle tone and increase mobility.
Electrotherapy is the use of electrical currents on damaged tissue. The electrical currents cause muscles to tighten at a very deep level through ultrasound, which aids healing. Hydrotherapy is another treatment, which can be hugely beneficial to patients, because the water supports the weight of their bodies and provides gentle resistance to work against, which strengthens muscles and aids mobility.
Physical therapists have to make the right decision about which form of treatment will be most effective, by assessing a patient’s physical condition and tailoring a programme to suit them.
There are many types of equipment available which aid the Physical Therapist in their work. Ultrasound machines, heat therapy, walking frames, parallel bars and weights are useful aids to increasing strength in limbs and muscles.
Some pieces of equipment are aimed particularly at improving balance and co-ordination. These include balance balls and disks, which the patient has to try and balance on. Whilst it may seem an odd form of treatment, the body has to make many physical adjustments when trying to find the point at which they can balance. By practising this activity, the whole body is used and re-educated to improve overall stability and core strength. Walking frames help patients to practice moving their limbs correctly whilst their bodies are supported, leaving them more able to concentrate on the mental input required to relearn mobility skills.
Physical therapy is often the key to recovery for many accident victims and the route to achieving more comfort and mobility for those with long-term conditions.
This guest article was written on behalf of quest88.com who produce a variety of equipment to help people with physical disabilities.