Physical therapists work with injured and disabled patients to help them restore movement and regain strength. Through the use of physical therapy tools, patients are able to work though pain and loss of feeling to perform basic movements such as walking, grasping, and holding objects. Overtime pain will be relieved and feeling will return to the patient’s limbs and muscles. Below are some of the physical therapy tools and techniques that are applied by therapists to their clients.
Stretching and Strength Training
Through injury, the muscles and joints of a patient may become impaired and, over time, may become stiff and tight through lack of use. Physical therapists work with their clients to manually manipulate and stretch the muscles so that they are able to stay flexible and loose. Regular stretching of an injured area will also ensure that scar tissue does not form. This is important because scar tissue can further impair the use of joints and muscles.
Additionally, through lack of use, muscles will lose strength. Muscle power can be regained by performing exercises developed to work the muscles and improve strength and endurance.
Core Exercises and Balance
Because core exercises help to increase strength and stability, they are often used by physical therapists to help patients regain both these things after an injury. Through the use of physical therapy tools such as exercise balls, patients perform sit-ups and various core-strengthening exercises. Similarly, by performing core exercises patients are often able to increase their stability and balance both of which are helpful when relearning how to perform movements.
Massage therapy is used to keep the muscles and joints flexible and to decrease pain and tightening of any given body area. Massage therapy also feels good and can be used to decrease stress and enhance the body’s immune system.
Ice and Heat Therapy
Both ice and heat therapy are used to decrease muscle pain and inflammation, stimulate blood flow, and heal injuries. Sometimes cold and hot therapies are used in conjunction with each other and other times they are used separately; it depends on the nature of the injury. Physical therapists are trained to know when to use ice or heat therapy to treat a patient.
The use of physical therapy is important to many patients who have recently undergone trauma or injury. Directly after an accident many patients are unsure of when they will be able to regain regular movement or when their body pain will decrease. Physical therapy can give each patient a much better idea of their body’s limitations and how they can best retrain themselves after an injury.