At Injury Doctors NYC, when it comes to physical therapy, also known as PT, our trained professionals evaluate and treat abnormal physical function related to an injury, disability, or other health condition.
Physical therapists aim to improve a person’s range of movement and quality of life and prevent further injury or disability.
Licensed physical therapists work in a range of healthcare settings, including outpatient offices, private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health, sports and fitness settings, schools, hospices, occupational settings, government agencies, and research centers.
What to expect
A physical therapist helps take care of patients in all phases of healing, from initial diagnosis to restorative and preventive stages of recovery. Physical therapy may be a standalone option, or it may support other treatments.
Some patients are referred to a physical therapist by a doctor, while others seek therapy themselves.
According to the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, a physical therapist receives training that enables them to:
- conduct a physical exam and evaluation of a person’s movement, flexibility, muscle and joint motion, and performance, including finding out about their health history
- give a clinical diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of care with short- and long-term goals
- perform physical therapy treatment and intervention
- give self-management recommendations, including exercises a person can do at home
Apart from physical manipulation, physical therapy treatment may involve:
- Iontophoresis: This uses an electrical current to deliver certain medications, such as topical steroids. This can decrease the presence of inflammation.
- Electrical stimulation (e-stim): There are two types of e-stim. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation reduces pain. By contrast, neuromuscular electrical stimulation works to stimulate muscular motor units to improve muscular engagement.
- Heat, moist heat, and cold therapy: These may provide benefits to a range of conditions.
- Light therapy: This involves using special lights and lasers to treat certain medical conditions.
The following are five reasons why physical therapy is an important part of surgery recovery:
1. Improves mobility, balance and strength:
Surgery can cause a mobility limitation in the affected region or body part. The body’s natural response is to protect the area of trauma, which can cause muscle/tissue tightness, swelling, spasms and limited range of motion. Physical therapy can help patients regain mobility through movement, strengthening exercises, myofascial release, and other manual techniques. Additionally, exercises to strengthen muscles in the core, back and pelvis increase stability and improve balance, which can help tremendously in recovering from surgeries like knee or hip replacement.
2. Eases pain and swelling:
Swelling after surgery is a normal part of the healing process and varies greatly from one person to the next. Chemicals that stimulate nerve endings are released, and the excess inflammation compresses the nerves, creating pain. Reducing swelling promotes healing and improves mobility, both of which reduce overall pain. Exercises and movement done during rehabilitation can help to decrease swelling and prevent surgical pain from becoming chronic.
After surgery, rehabilitation speeds the healing process, and it helps you learn the best way to care for yourself and return to daily activities.
3. Reduces scar tissue formation:
After an injury or surgery, scar tissue forms, and soft tissue contracts as part of the natural healing process. Surgery anywhere on the body can lead to scarring, and excess scar tissue can reduce function and movement for months after a procedure. A physical therapist can perform many types of tissue mobilization techniques, including massage and ultrasound therapy, to soften scar tissue and return patients to normal flexibility.
4. Reduces the development of secondary issues:
Infection, blood clots, and other complications sometimes occur after surgery, and physical therapy can reduce these often costly and debilitating secondary complications. Tailored movement exercises done after surgery with a physical therapist will help to decrease the risk for infection, contractures, and blood clots.
5. Improves flexibility:
Inactivity leads to weakened muscles that easily become stiff and prone to further injury. When muscles are tight and joints are stiff, normal daily activities such as reaching overhead, climbing stairs and rising from a seated position can be severely affected. Gentle stretching exercises are among the first activities introduced after surgery and are designed to keep vulnerable muscles limber.