Physical therapy (PT) is a crucial part of many rehabilitation programs. A physical
therapist will plan exercises to help you retrain your muscles and adjust the way you
need to. You'll probably have some discomfort, but the movement will help you recover
PT is an important part of the recovery from joint replacement surgery. Exercises are
done, often almost right after the surgery, to regain motion and strength in the
affect joint. Some other conditions that also benefit from PT include:
* accident injuries
* low-back pain
* heart disease
* head injuries
* cerebral palsy
* some conditions that cause dizziness (vertigo)
PT is also often part of recovery from orthopedic issues including sprains and strains, bursitis and tendinitis, injuries to the knee, shoulder, hips, feet, legs and ankles. PT may also benefit patients with chronic conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis, osteonecrosis and post-polio syndrome. The role of a physical therapist is to help the patient restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients suffering from injuries or disease. A physical therapist works with the patient's doctor and the patient to design and implement a PT plan. They will take a look at the patient's medical history and then run them through a series of tests to measure their strength, range of motion, balance and coordination, posture, muscle performance, respiration and motor function.
Treatment often includes exercises for flexibility, strength or endurance. Physical therapists will encourage patients to use their own muscles to increase their flexibility and range of motion before finally advancing to other exercises that improve strength, balance, coordination and endurance.
Physical therapists may also use things like electrical stimulation, hot packs or cold compresses and ultrasound devices to help relieve pain and reduce swelling. They may use traction or deep-tissue massage to relieve pain. Therapists are also often involved in teaching patients how to use things such as crutches, prostheses and wheelchairs. They also may show patients exercises to do at home to speed up their rehabilitation.
A physical therapist will help you learn to perform the appropriate exercises and will guide you. Form is often the key to progress. If you perform the exercise incorrectly, or you use excess weight, you can do more damage.
Physical therapy can also used to treat certain balance disorders. Conditions, such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and Ménière's disease are candidates for such therapy. Vestibular rehabilitation refers to the vestibule or the balance mechanism in the inner ear. the goal is to retrain the brain to filter out confusing information from the inner ear and to use appropriate information, combined with other senses, such as seeing to diminish or eliminate symptoms.