What Is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a form of treatment which focuses on making daily tasks and activities easier following surgery, injuries, or long term health problems. Often times when clients come to see us after a car accident, or truck accident, or a slip and fall, they are being treated by a physical therapist in conjunction with other treatments in the hopes of returning them to their normal functional abilities.

Physical therapists target specific areas of weakness in your body and they can relieve pain associated with daily bodily functioning. A physical therapist is also knowledgeable about surgical procedures and treatment goals. A physical therapist will typically tailor a plan to help insure a successful outcome after a surgery.

What Are Some Physical Therapy Exercises And Treatments?

1) Stretching - stretching is vital in maintaining a good range of motion to ensure that functions such as climbing stairs or reaching overhead are preserved. Also, after surgery, scar tissue may form. It is important to stretch these areas to ensure that scar tissue does not get in the way of rehabilitation.

2) Strength Training - Again the goal is to improve your range of motion, but to also improve your strength and increase endurance. After surgery, these exercises will be recommended by your doctor and physical therapist.

3) Core Strengthening and Stability - because a weak core is susceptible to acute injuries, having strong muscles in your back and pelvis will help protect you from future injury.

4) Ultrasound - the ultrasound machine uses high frequency sound waves to stimulate the deep tissues of your body by vibrating them. This leads to warming and increased blood flow to these tissues.

5) Electrical Stimulation - an electrical current passes to the affected area. During electrical stimulation blood flow is also increased to the affected area, and typically our clients experience less pain after this form of treatment.

What Are The Goals Of Physical Therapy?

According to Clevelandclinic.org, there are five main goals of physical therapy which include:

(1) Educating patients on stretching and strengthening principles;

(2) Educating patients on proper posture;

(3) Accelerating healing by:

a) reducing pain and swelling by using passive treatments such as ice, ultrasound or electrical stimulation;

b) restoring flexibility;

c) strengthening injured muscles;

d) returning to normal functionality;

(4) Managing pain after aggravating an injury; and,

(5) Educating clients on how to prevent them from re-injuring the affected area.

What Type Of Injuries Require Physical Therapy?

1) Spinal Stenosis

If you have minor spinal stenosis, your injury may be treated by non-surgical means. You will likely see a physical therapist a few times a week for one to two months in order to correct or alleviate the pain. If you do have to have surgery, you may have to wait two to three months before beginning the rehab program and then you will need to attend physical therapy two or three times a week for six to eight weeks. You can expect full recovery in up to six months.

2) Spondylolisthesis

If surgery is not required, Spondylolisthesis may be treated with physical therapy which will consist of aggressive daily treatments for eight to twelve weeks. However, if surgery is needed, you will likely need one of the following, either a spinal fusion or a laminectomy.

3) Herniated Disc

You will likely undergo physical therapy a few times a week for several weeks. The physical therapist may recommend heat, or ice, traction, ultrasound and electrical stimulation. If you do require surgery, a partial discectomy will be performed.

4) Torn Meniscus

Physical therapy for a torn meniscus will depend on what type of surgery you had. You may either have a partial meniscectomy, a meniscal repair, or transplant. Following a partial meniscectomy, you may only need to attend physical therapy for two to four weeks. However, a meniscal repair or transplant may require you to attend physical therapy two or three times per week for six to eight weeks.

5) ACL Injury

After a torn ACL you can expect to have to go to rehabilitation for four to six months after surgery. You will likely have physical therapy session two to three times a week for six weeks. If you progress along well, you may be able to continue your treatment at home only seeing your physical therapist once every couple of weeks for the remainder of your four to six month rehabilitation period.

6) Discectomy

After surgery you may not be required to attend physical therapy, but if you are suffering from pain or loss of muscle tone in your shoulders or arms, you may need to attend physical therapy for two to four weeks. You should be able to expect full recovery in three months.

7) Laminectomy

After surgery you will likely have to wait six weeks before you can begin your physical therapy. At the end of that six weeks you will need attend four to six weeks of physical therapy. You can expect to be fully recovered from this procedure within four months.

8) Spinal Fusion

Recovery from spinal fusion surgery is highly dependent on the severity of the surgery and the progress made by the patient during rehabilitation. Getting up and moving around his highly recommended, even a few days after surgery. So within the first week of surgery, the client will begin to take short walks and may begin stretching and static stabilized exercises. These exercises are referred to as "static" because the exercises are done by moving your arms and legs while keeping your trunk still. Static stabilized exercise will continue from the first week to the ninth week. Possibly during weeks six through twelve, you will begin doing dynamic stabilization exercises using a resistance band and exercise balls. During weeks nine through twelve, again, depending on your progress, you may be introduced to low impact aerobic exercises like swimming, or using exercise equipment such as a stationary bike. Keep in mind that recovery from this procedure could take from six months to up to a year to fully recover.

Find Out How We Can Help

Contact Attorney Douglas V. Stoehr if you had to undergo a physical therapy due to a motor vehicle accident or fall, or a bicycle accident or a pedestrian accident. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our west-central Pennsylvania law firm by calling 814-946-4100 or email us.