Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you're needed by someone - Martina Navratilova
We all, at one time or another will have to be rehabilitated...
I first had physical therapy at 27, after I slipped on an icy Montreal sidewalk and tore the ligaments in my left ankle. I had it again at 42 and 43, after surgery on my right and left knees, and most recently I’ve had it on both shoulders. My orthopedist likes to say surgery is half the battle. If so, it’s the easy half.
The slow and repetitive work of physical therapy often starts the next day, and for an injury like a tear in an anterior cruciate ligament, it can take up to six months. Before you’ve done it, it’s hard to imagine anything is going to take so long and hurt so much.
Part of the challenge is the nature of arthroscopic surgery, whose multiple incisions are often so tiny they barely leave a trace. I’ve had torn meniscus (cartilage) removed from both my knees, and I have to look really hard to find my scars. Removal of bone spurs from my shoulder through four incisions left my skin almost smooth. Surely this is a good thing.
But those minuscule entry points make it difficult to comprehend what has been done in there. After only 45 minutes under general anesthetic and with no huge incision or bloody wound, why am I in so much pain? And why do I have to keep doing these silly exercises?
Surgeons have little time, and sometimes less appetite, to discuss the minutiae of a procedure’s aftereffects. Often it’s the physical therapists who patiently explain what the physician did and why we now have to relinquish huge chunks of our time to rehabilitation.
Physical therapy, or P.T., demands the month-after-month tedium of spending hours in a room filled with strangers stretching colored rubber bands or spinning their arms in circles. The rituals are oddly and intimately public. Patients of every age, race and income level share a large, sunny room. We do our leg-raises side by side on wide beds. We wait in line for the pulley, the elliptical and the arm bike. We learn a new language and its tools: the strap, the stick, shrugs and pinches.
Everyone ends up in P.T. — lithe teenage athletes, construction workers and police officers with job-related strains, C.E.O.’s with skiing injuries, older people with replaced knees and hips. I’ve commiserated there with an Episcopal minister, an Ivy League economics professor and a firefighter. The rituals become routine, starting with a heating pad and nerve stimulation, ending with the soothing benediction of a black rubber ice pack. We learn to bend our lives around the inexorable, unfashionable truth — healing takes work and it takes time.
Camaraderie grows as patients compare notes on the frustration of needing help for tasks as simple as pulling up your trousers or opening a can of soup. Women commiserate with the new knowledge that a bra strap can pinch a healing shoulder like steel cable. Struggling to complete even the simplest of tasks in a room full of fellow adults is humbling. When I see someone’s jaw clench with effort, I remember that lifting a one-pound weight can be tough.
I never expected to forge a multiyear relationship with my physical therapists, but I have...Really. I just hope I never see them again. I don’t envy them their job, stretching and shaking and manipulating our joints to loosen them and keep them flexible. It has left me gasping in pain, sometimes even tears. I can’t imagine having to intentionally inflict pain, but that, one quickly learns, is an inevitable part of healing.
It must be difficult for our physical therapists to cheer us on for what are, in other circumstances, a toddler’s proud achievements — when we have regained the ability to tie our shoelaces or walk steadily across a room or throw a ball. There is an upside. Because we see them so frequently for months, we get to know our physical therapists, and they us, in ways we’ll never know our doctors. We learn where they live and go on vacation, who has a new puppy, whose husband changed careers.
It’s not an intimacy we would choose. But, shoved out of our private, busy lives, whether reluctantly or gratefully, we fall into their strong, skilled, waiting hands.
Source: Caitlin Kelly, Physical Therapy and the Camaraderie of Healing, The New York Times, February 16, 2009.
PhysicalTherapists.com is a directory of over 10,000 physical therapists across the country. Find out about physical therapists near you and get discounts on services.
Physical therapists help people walk again after a stroke and recover after injury or surgery, but did you know they also prevent exposure to opioids? This is timely, given we are in a public health emergency related to an opioid crisis.
For patients who have been through traumatic injury such as brain injury, the road to recovery can last months or years. This recovery process includes different types of therapies such as speech therapy, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, occupational therapy, etc.. Often, the long wait and long commute to different healthcare facilities can be just as difficult as the therapy itself.
Because physical therapy is often tedious and uncomfortable, the mood to do your exercises will probably not strike you very frequently, if at all. What I would do is add something to the exercises that changes your motivation equation.
The CDC stresses physical therapy is especially effective at reducing pain and improving function in cases of low back pain, fibromyalgia and hip and knee osteoarthritis.
Seeking physical therapy soon after your pain begins not only helps eliminate the pain sooner, it can also save you a lot of money
Medical societies and public health agencies are now advising doctors to try less invasive options and even alternative therapies such as acupuncture before considering opioids or surgery.
Nursing homes receive far more in Medicare payments than it costs them to provide care, exploiting the billing system in some cases by giving patients more therapy services than they need, federal investigators said in a new report.
Physical therapy may provide little relief for recent-onset low back pain, a small randomized trial has found.
It must be difficult for our physical therapists to cheer us on for what are, in other circumstances, a toddler’s proud achievements – when we have regained the ability to tie our shoelaces or walk steadily across a room or throw a ball.
There is an upside. Because we see them so frequently for months, we get to know our physical therapists, and they us, in ways we’ll never know our doctors...
A customized physical therapy program can help individuals return to their prior level of functioning, and encourage activities and lifestyle changes that can help prevent further injury and improve overall health and well being.
MoveForwardPT.com is the official consumer information website of the American Physical Therapy Association.
Physical Rehabilitation Network (PRN) is the most prominent network of independently operated physical & hand rehabilitation centers in the western United States.
Since 1991, PRN has been providing access to quality care and cost containment.
PTPN is America’s premier network of independent rehabilitation providers. Established in 1985, PTPN has built a track record for delivering comprehensive, cost-effective and high quality outpatient rehabilitation services.
Only 1 in 10 physical therapy patients complete their full course of care. We help keep patients engaged and coming back.
Patient, healthcare professional or researcher -- child, teen, adult or senior -- if you're visiting us to answer a question, to find information, or to participate in an activity, thank your bones and joints for bringing you here. Think about it: if the bones and joints in your body are strong and flexible, they move smoothly.
NCHPAD is positioned to effect change in health promotion/obesity management among people with disabilities through advocacy, services and programs to numerous organizations and people throughout the country.
The National Rehabilitation Information Center's online gateway to an abundance of disability- and rehabilitation-oriented information organized in a variety of formats designed to make it easy for users to find and use.
RehabCare is the leading provider of rehabilitation services, including physical, occupational and speech-language therapies, to over 2,000 hospitals and long-term care facilities in 46 states. We are the premier provider of rehab throughout the full continuum of care, including long-term acute care hospitals, nursing and rehabilitation centers, inpatient acute rehab units, independent rehabilitation facilities and hospice and home care locations.
SCIRE is a synthesis of the research evidence underlying rehabilitation interventions to improve the health of people living with SCI. The products of SCIRE result from the combined efforts of expert scientists, clinicians, consumers and stakeholders to increase the accessibility of quality information in SCI rehabilitation.
Physical medicine and rehabilitation are services that can help people regain body functions they lost due to medical conditions or injury. Rehabilitation can help many body functions, including bowel and bladder problems, chewing and swallowing, problems thinking or reasoning, movement or mobility, speech, and language.
Shepherd Center specializes in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury and brain injury.