Do You Need Physical Therapy? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on August 06, 2015

Do You Need Physical Therapy?

Growing up, if you fell and got hurt, your parents might have told you to get up and shake it off. But you can’t just brush yourself off and keep going after some injuries, especially as an adult.

If you get hurt and the pain persists after several days of resting and icing, symptoms recur and linger, your injury stems from a traumatic event or fall, medicine doesn’t control the pain, the pain is sharp and centralized, and there are noticeable and visible changes like swelling, you might be in need of physical therapy.

Physical therapy is one type of treatment when health issues make it difficult to move around and do everyday tasks in addition to helping you move better and relieve pain. Physical therapy can also help improve or restore not just your physical function, but also your fitness level.

“They do range of motion and strengthening exercises, work on improving their balance and get them up and walking,” said Douglas J. Brunner, M.D., medical director of Crozer-Keystone’s Regional Rehabilitation Center.

With some injuries, physical therapy can also reduce your need for surgery and prescription pain medications. But if you do need surgery to repair an injury, physical therapy can help during the recovery process, promoting mobility and healing.

The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to make your daily tasks and activities easier and pain-free.

How do physical therapists accomplish all of this?

Physical therapists first examine you and talk to you about your symptoms and your daily activities before formulating a treatment plan specific to you. From there, they work to help your joints move better and restore or increase your flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination and balance.

“Our job is to basically facilitate them to make sure that their medical condition is such that they can actually participate in rehabilitation,” said Crozer-Keystone hospitalist Cleve R. Sinor, M.D.

Physical therapy almost always includes exercising, such as stretching, core exercising, weight lifting and walking. In fact, your physical therapy may teach you an exercise program to do at home to further improve your recovery.

Some injuries that require physical therapy are more debilitating, to the point where you may not be able to care for yourself. In those cases, patients may go to a rehabilitation center.

“The rehabilitation unit is for people who basically have trouble walking or taking care of themselves as far as washing and dressing themselves. Specifically, stroke patients, amputees, people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, head trauma patients. [When] a patient comes in with a disability and is unable to ambulate, wash, dress himself, the goals are to get him independent so he can go to physical therapy,” Dr. Brunner said.

Rehabilitation facilities and physical therapy work together for the same goal: health, mobility and no pain. That takes a team of medical professionals.

“It definitely is a very large team that comes together to make this happen. From the nursing staff to the physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, from psychosocial services – all of these need to come together to make the patient better and able to get home,” Dr. Sinor said.

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