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Home  .  Articles  .  Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

What is physical therapy? Generally, they are services aimed at reconstituting motor skills, boosting muscular dexterity, preventing and minimizing pain and damage sustained from injuries, diseases etc without the use of drugs and surgery. Often, treatment procedures involve directly rousing stimulation and responses. Exercises, therapeutic modalities and customized treatment routines are tailored accordingly to the individualís needs, enhancing functionality, thereby also alleviating acute and chronic pains. Some of the more common treatment procedures include hot packs, cold compresses and massages. In addition, patients and family are also educated on aftercare and the benefits of a well-balanced biopsychosocial approach.

A diverse group of people with various ailments may also stand to benefit greatly from receiving appropriate treatment. A pregnant woman with backache, an elderly with arthritis, a stroke patient and an overstressed employee are mere examples of those who may make good use of physical therapy. While conventional pain-killer medication may quickly diffuse malaise, it does not eliminate the underlying causation for discomfort. For many patients, one of the main reasons for recurring pain is the lack of care and attention on their improper postures and incorrect usage of their muscles. For instance, posture correction and cold compresses can prove to be more efficient by directly intervening with problematic areas such as swelling knees and shoulder tendonitis. The goal is to improve the individualís capacity for work and social interaction by inducing optimal psychomotor performance, ultimately bringing about a balanced mental and personal wellness. Just who might need such treatment? Physical therapy is fully capable of attending to a wide spectrum of patients. For example, young children who carry excessive loads in their schoolbags could benefit from therapeutic massages for sore shoulders and backs; pregnant women who have to endure various aches such as lower backaches and leg cramps could go for exercise routines specially designed for pregnancy. Furthermore, arthritis is very common to the elderly, and correct education on how they should exercise and utilize their muscle coordination would be ideal. Adolescents and sportsmen frequently incur sports injuries, such as tennis elbows and sore wrists, which require specialized remedies in order to fully recover and avoid backlash. Part of this treatment is the frequent use of ice packs applied on the knees or ankles of sportsmen, such as NBA or soccer players, we see on TV. In more formal settings such as hospitals, treatment is also customized for individual patients who suffer from disabilities due to various reasons such as birth defects and accidents on the road or at work.

Hence, we see the array of benefits these various forms of therapies could help and reach out to. The main objective here is to lessen the dependence upon drugs and surgery, aiding the body to ďhealĒ itself. Well then, are these methodologies a new phenomenon? Is it tried and tested enough? Briefly, such therapies aiding the recovery of the physique, has been used throughout much of our history. For thousands of years, the Chinese and Indians have developed various branches of learning and health discipline from this concept of physiotherapy. Some of these practices include acupuncture and foot massages. Led by President Mary McMillan, the first professional association was formed in 1921, called the American Women's Physical Therapeutic Association. During World War II, they were an important source of aid to soldiers who suffered from the injuries and traumatic horrors of war. The demand for professional guidance to help patients recover the use of their limbs and to reintegrate back into society was very great. The associationís membership grew rapidly and in the 1940s, the name of this professional body was changed to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

The requirements of the association upon its practitioners are stringent, in order to maintain credibility and professionalism. The practitioners are called physical therapists and they attain their prerequisite skills through extensive academic and clinical education. Preparation for entrance into the education program includes courses in psychology, biology, physics, chemistry, statistics, English, professional writing, and humanities. This wide education exposure enables the therapists to be sufficiently professional in order to choose the most appropriate treatment for patients with differing conditions.

Additionally, the fieldwork and clinical experience enable them to be effective in interpersonal communications. This is crucial as they have to cater to people of different ethnicities, social statuses and cultures. In todayís healthcare, holistic aid is deemed the most beneficial. In other words, a patient receives help from a multi-disciplinary health team. Thus, the therapist must work hand in hand with other professionals such as doctors, psychologists and social workers, to design a treatment plan that fits best with the patientís conditions, schedules and financial constraints. Other than using procedures such as electrical stimulation and ultrasound to deal with pains such as swelling and bruises, physical therapists also document the patientís progress, conduct periodic examinations, and modify treatments when necessary.

In conclusion, physical therapy has efficiently been around for a long time, and its benefits are evident. However, should you, or anyone you know, be interested in this line of healthcare but maintain reservations, it would be best to seek advice with the family doctor or enquire from the APTA to find out more.
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