National Physical Therapy Month: 7 Things You Didn't Know Physical Therapists Can Do For You
Updated: Oct 2, 2019
Happy October! It’s my favorite month of the year for many reasons including fall colors, warm autumn afternoons, and all things pumpkin. But October is also National Physical Therapy Month, and that’s certainly something worth celebrating!
National PT Month is all about promoting all of the great benefits of physical therapy, including helping people manage or eliminate pain without opioids, support the healing process to avoid surgery, and maximize movement just to name a few. The ultimate goal is for more people to seek physical therapy in order to improve motion and quality of life.
My assumption is that most people think of physical therapists as either being in hospitals to help those in acute care get mobile so that they can go home or in outpatient clinics helping people recover from total knee replacements or twisted ankles and the like. While that is absolutely true, and the work those therapists do is incredibly important, let me shed light on some of the lesser-known things physical therapists can do for you.
Pelvic floor rehabilitation: Whether you experience urinary frequency, stress or urge incontinence (think piddling in your pants when you sneeze or not being able to get to the toilet fast enough), or pain in the pelvic region, physical therapy can help! It’s also a tremendous asset for pre- and postpartum women in order to learn optimal delivery positions and safe recovery methods in order to avoid chronic issues down the road following birth. Men, pelvic rehab is for you too if you experience erectile dysfunction, abdominal pain, or impairments following prostate surgery. Pelvic floor physical therapists truly change people’s lives because these impairments are often not talked about and leave people wondering what to do. Well not anymore! Learn more about pelvic floor rehab here, and don’t wait another day to seek help!
Lymphedema therapy: Lymphedema is swelling in the arms or legs and occurs when the lymph system gets overloaded and cannot flush out the lymph (excess fluids, proteins, and other substances) normally. This may happen when lymph nodes are removed following mastectomies or if scar tissue impedes lymph nodes. Regardless of why this occurs, physical therapists can help treat this acutely or help patients manage this long-term by providing patient education on how to control it themselves including lymph drainage techniques and helping fit patients for compression garments.
Oncology therapy: Physical therapists that are specially trained to help people during or following cancer treatment are tremendous assets to minimizing or avoiding the physical and cognitive side-effects of the treatments. Oncology PTs help reduce the effects of scar tissue, improve mobility, and restore balance or other physical impairments along with so much more. Read more about Oncology rehabilitation here.
Vestibular rehabilitation: If you or someone you know has ever experienced vertigo (a debilitating dizziness), you know it’s not fun! Our inner ear plays an integral role in our balance and how our brain perceives where our body is in space. If there is dysfunction in the inner ear, it can wreak havoc for us! Physical therapists can evaluate and treat this in order to help re-establish equilibrium in the inner ear so that you no longer experience this life-impacting dizziness. This is a great write-up to learn more about what vertigo is and how physical therapists can help.
Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation: Cardio- meaning cardiovascular or pertaining the heart, and pulmonary- meaning lungs. So rehab for your heart and lungs! There are therapists out there dedicated solely to this endeavor. They are educated on how to safely progress cardiac patients’ physical activity after a cardiac incident, and they can help patients improve lung capacity and so much more!
Brain injury rehabilitation: Brain injuries, especially concussions, are gaining understanding and more people are paying attention to the repercussions. Physical therapists are the health care team members to help ensure that people who have experienced a traumatic brain injury return to work, sports, and recreation safely. They monitor patients’ cognitive abilities, reaction times, and functional sequencing (think Task A leads to Task B, which leads to Task C). These are critical components of returning to living independently, safely. Read more here about all of the ways physical therapists are involved in helping people recover from brain injuries.
TMJ & facial pain rehabilitation: "TMJ" is short for temporomandibular joint. In other words, your jaw joint. It's that hinge joint that you feel as you open and close your mouth while chewing. Sometimes there can be dysfunction in this joint, like clicking, popping, or even lack of motion, if there is something wrong with the disc inside that joint or if the muscles or capsule around the joint get tight. A physical therapist can assess that and most likely get it cleared up right away. Other fascial impairments, such as pain from grinding teeth and even referred pain that causes headaches, can be helped by a physical therapist. Who knew?! (Did you?)
I love being a part of this profession, and in the spirit of October and Halloween I’m going to
go ahead and say that physical therapists really are the health care superheroes! If your impairment involves the neurological, muscular, skeletal, integumentary, or cardiopulmonary systems, or any combination of them all, physical therapists can help you!
Please leave a comment below or feel free to submit a question if you want to know more about how to find a PT in your area to help with these issues and more.