Physical Therapy: Key to a full and long-term recovery

December 19th, 2013 | By Gary No Comments

Medical_Moves_dec

 

By: Gary LeFeuvre executive director of Athens MOVE, with assistance from Jimbo Wood, Horizon Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Recently, David Smith, a PE teacher at Madison County High School, was telling me that following a good physical therapy program had really helped him quickly recover fully following knee surgery.  At the same time, he knew of similar patients who did not heal quickly and see a full recovery because they did not work hard and complete their prescribed program.  His story reminded me of the important role physical therapy had played in my own family which has had numerous sports injuries.

Physical Therapy (PT) is a broad term for all physical rehabilitation performed by a licensed physical therapist (also referred to as PT) and encompasses pediatrics, neurological, acute care, outpatient, and sports medicine.   An x-ray or an MRI is going to tell you what the problem is; a PT will tell you why the problem occurred by assessing your body’s ability to move effectively and efficiently.

Let’s say you had a weak hip that was causing stress on your knee when you ran.  The stress caused a cartilage tear.  Your orthopedic surgeon cleans up the cartilage tear with surgery, but if you go back to running with the same dysfunctional pattern, you’re going to end up injured again.  A good PT will work to correct the movement dysfunction that led to the injury, thereby treating the source of the issue and not just the symptom of the issue.

Physical therapy is a vital part of recovery from an injury or surgery.  In orthopedic cases, once surgery is performed, rehab can take up to six to eight months, so patients are spending far more time with a PT than they do their orthopedic surgeon.  A good PT will outline the rehab process for the patient on their first visit so that the patient has a general timeline for their recovery.  Also, a good PT will modify the patient’s rehab routine weekly based on healing, progress, etc.  In order to maximize effectiveness, the patient should trust the therapist and the rehab processed outlined for them.

We live in a quick-fix society.  We want a pill for everything.  Physical therapy sometimes can offer a quick fix to an issue, but in chronic cases, rehab usually takes some time and hard work, and often requires some type of home maintenance to keep everything in working order.  PT Jimbo Wood tells his patients all the time, “If your doctor prescribes you an antibiotic and you never take the medication, you’re probably not going to get better.  Same thing with rehab.  If I prescribe an exercise or movement corrective and you don’t do it, you’re probably not going to get better.”

According to Jimbo, one of the biggest factors in maximizing the effectiveness of your rehab is to find the right therapist for you.  There are many PTs in the area with a wide variety of skill sets.  Patients should consult their doctor and do their own homework to determine what PT will be the best for them based on their injury, goals, etc.  For example, Horizon Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation focuses on outpatient and sports medicine cases. They specialize in dry needling and treating runners, cyclists, triathletes and patients with sacroiliac joint dysfunctions.  Others in the area may specialize in neck and back PT or certain age groups like pediatrics or seniors.   Do your research to see what therapist will work best for you and then work hard to complete the PT program they prescribe for you.

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