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By Heather Juen

RLMC Physical Therapist

 

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy helps people recover from injuries, illnesses, or surgeries.  It assists a person in regaining proper motion, strength, and function. It can assist in improving balance and reducing risk for falls. Physical therapy helps people return to hobbies and activities such as sports.  Physical therapy also helps people be able to complete everyday activities more easily, safely, and while expending less energy. Physical therapy helps people return to their normal activities after suffering from a stroke, torn ligaments, or after joint replacements due to arthritis. Physical therapy also can help improve the quality of life in people with various  neurological conditions and illnesses, such as Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis. Physical therapy can teach easier ways of performing different tasks.

Why does Physical Therapy take so much time?

It takes time to change the strength of muscles, regain lost motion, and return to prior activities.  It takes practice and doing exercises and activities outside of the Physical therapy sessions in order to improve and reach the established goals. Change does not occur overnight, it takes time and patience.  Physical therapy is not a quick fix, which is what the American culture does expect from many medical treatments, or medications. Especially following surgeries, time is needed for all the different tissues to heal before moving the extremity or joint.  Failure to do so can lead to re-injury or delayed healing.  For instance following rotator cuff repairs, it is often necessary to place the shoulder in an immobilizer for up to 4-6 weeks in order to let the tendon.  There are different stages that the recovery process entails, often starting with regaining lost motion, followed by strength, then functional tasks and activities.

Do I really have to do my Home Exercise Program?

Yes, consistency is the key to recovery.  Often in office physical therapy sessions are only 1-3 times per week, therefore, it is important to continue with exercises and stretches while at home.  It is much easier to regain motion early, before the various tissues prevent or make it much more difficult to gain motion.  It takes time and effort to reach each stage in the recovery process and doing the home exercise program is necessary for optimal recovery and return to function. Exercise programs are advanced according to how the patient is recovering and what deficits remain.

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