What Is Physical Therapy and How Can a Physical Therapist Help Me?
Updated: Jul 22, 2022
A very broad explanation of what I believe a physical therapist is; an expert in musculoskeletal pain management, and activity optimization.
Let's break that down.
Musculoskeletal meaning conditions related to dysfunction of the skeletal and muscular systems as well as the various bodily systems which interact with them.
Pain management meaning education, reassurance and intervention designed at addressing specific pain issues as well as the fears and maladaptive cognitions associated with it.
Finally, activity optimization meaning a physical therapist can help with way more than just issues related to pain. Our skill set and knowledge of human biology and anatomy allows us to address goals which include but are not limited to performance and strength training.
What does a typical session look like? A visit to a physical therapist should really feel like an in-depth interview where the primary goal is understanding the chief complaint and its impact on the individual's daily life. I would argue that the bulk of the first meeting should be a meaningful conversation in which both the therapist and client have a mutual understanding of the individual's goals, prognosis as well as what treatment options are available. Followed by that is a detailed exam to hone in on where treatment would set us on the best path to addressing your specific goals. Arguably the most important aspect of treatment is regular objective testing and, retesting of the primary issue should occur at each follow up visit to determine meaningful change and achievement of the patient's determined goals.
Treatment provided by one therapist may look different from treatment provided by another therapist but the hallmark of a skilled treatment session should be consistently demonstrating value or lack thereof of each intervention. The old adage “time heals all wounds”, certainly applies to musculoskeletal issues just as much as a bad break up. Your physical therapist should be out to prove that their value is in being better than the simple passage of time. Simply put, a physical therapist can help you find a path to speedier recovery and get you back to doing what you love the most.