3 Ways Physical Therapists Impact Patient Recovery

Physical therapists play an important role in helping people have the best possible recovery after a surgery or injury. During the course of an average day, a physical therapist will examine patients to diagnose and treat different conditions that affect their comfort and mobility. Patients are often referred to physical therapists while they are in the hospital so that they can start on their treatment immediately, but they may also be found working in schools, homes and private clinics.

Determine the Right Course of Treatment

When a physical therapist first meets a patient, they conduct an evaluation to diagnose what areas of the body are causing pain or interfering with movement. Questions, medical tests and an observation of the patient may all be used during this initial assessment. Once a diagnosis has been made, the therapist will begin to develop an individualized plan for the patient’s rehabilitation.

Assist Patient with Learning Therapeutic Exercises

There are many techniques that can be taught to patients following an injury or surgery that will help to restore their functioning. For example, a physical therapist that works with a patient who has recently been discharged from the hospital due to knee surgery may assist them with learning gentle stretches and strengthening exercises that will increase their range of motion. A physical therapist will work with their patient until they are able to do their exercises without assistance or they have regained their functioning.

Reduce Patient’s Pain and Dysfunction

Pain is a primary reason why many patients are referred to rehabilitation services. Physical therapists address pain by identifying the underlying cause such as tension in the muscles. Then, they use techniques such as heat, ultrasound, water and compression to alleviate the pain. Manual therapy techniques, such as massage, may also be used to increase range of motion and reduce the stiffness that causes pain. It is important to keep in mind, however, that many of these techniques require several sessions before a patient finds full relief, and they may be part of a long-term care plan.

When a person experiences changes in their normal physical functioning, a physical therapist can be a tremendous asset. Today, many patients leave the hospital and go directly to rehabilitation so that they can have the best possible chances for a full recovery. By working together as a team, physical therapists and their patients can eliminate pain while restoring the body to full functioning.