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Guide to Physical Therapy by Wunderwell

Our friends at Wunderwell (www.wunderwell.com) have produced a series of incredible guides to wellness that might be helpful in these stressful times. Please see their latest post on the benefits of Physical Therapy. 

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Among the various complementary medicine options out there, physical therapy is one of the most well-known and well-researched. It’s both a noninvasive treatment option and a therapy that avoids the typical pushback other alternative medicines face from the contemporary medical world. This unique combination makes PT a great choice for patients who want to dip a toe into the water of alternative healing before diving in headfirst. So here’s the Wunderwell guide to physical therapy and its numerous benefits.


HISTORY
In 1813 Per Henrik Ling, the “father of Swedish gymnastics” developed an institute dedicated to “massage, manipulation, and exercise.” By the end of the century the word “physiotherapie” eventually changing to “physiotherapy” began to appear in medical literature.

The early 20th century saw the rise in physical therapy for conventional patients, facilitated by the advances made during the polio epidemic and the increasing need for mobility care by the veterans of World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. By the 1950s the American Physical Therapy Association had outlined competencies in the profession to direct state licensing boards.

Today, all certified physical therapists complete a three-year course to receive their Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from an accredited PT school, the majority of which require accepted applicants to first attain a bachelor’s degree. Upon completion of this program therapists must take a state-administered exam in order to secure their license to practice.


PRINCIPLES
In many ways, physical therapy bridges the gap between contemporary, Western medicine and alternative, functional treatments. It offers a solution to pain and ailments without the invasive nature of surgery or prescription medications, while remaining easily available to the average American.

The American Physical Therapist Association (ATPA) defines physical therapists as, “health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.” Similarly to the other medical treatments we’ve highlighted on Wunderwell, physical therapists seek to improve the patient’s whole livelihood, not just their specific problem area. The goal of any physical therapy journey is to have the patient return to the full range of motion they previously experienced, if not better. The key defining component of PT treatment is how to improve the movement of the body. The APTA cites the restoration, maintenance, and promotion of optical physical function as the basis of any PT practice. This detail separates PT from other forms of complementary medicine, which view the mind, body and soul as inseparable during treatment. Physical therapists specify in one particular area of a patient’s functioning: movement.

Physical therapy has become a popular and accessible form of medical treatment across the Western world, providing specified care that meets each patient’s needs.


PRACTICE
Many primary care doctors make PT referrals as a preventative measure because of the treatment’s conservative reputation for pain management. Not to mention that instead of paying completely out of pocket like other functional options, insurance usually covers some if not all physical therapy charges. And unlike other “specialist” referrals, a cookie-cutter approach does not exist in the PT world. Physical therapists complete a full-symptom evaluation before creating a treatment plan for the patient’s specific needs, which can span from lower back pain to postpartum care.

Your first physical therapy appointment will probably be the longest one. The therapist will complete a full initial assessment of your area of pain before composing a treatment plan tailored to your bod and lifestyle. Because of the wide range of conditions, abilities and ages that can benefit from PT, it’s important that your plan is customized to you and your goals. Usually this first appointment lasts up to 90 minutes, with subsequent appointments taking around an hour. The specific length of your visits depends on your condition and goals. As always, follow through on all your appointments and exercises, even if the symptoms of your ailment appear to leave after just a few sessions. Seeing your treatment to fruition will insure that the pain relief is not just temporary. Educate yourself on the benefits of physical therapy, try it out, and start moving and feeling better in no time!

EFFICACY
Many people might assume that physical therapy is reserved for injured athletes or those struggling with mobility, but those uses just scratch the surface of treatments. PT is a great solution for chronic joint and muscle pain, but it can also help manage heart and lung conditions, diabetes, arthritis, vascular issues and stroke/trauma recovery. A 2015 study from the University of Pittsburgh found that six weeks of consistent physical therapy yielded the same results as surgery in treating spinal stenosis, an aging-related lower back condition. The patients’ conditions paralleled each other through the entirety of the study which involved follow-ups for two years.

Source: Wunderwell

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