October is National Physical Therapy Month, and physical therapists everywhere are jumping at the opportunity to remind people about the important role improved and restored movement has on improving society.
“Pain-free movement is crucial to your quality of daily life, your ability to earn a living, your ability to pursue your favorite leisure activities, and so much more,” states Move Forward, the official consumer information site of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).
Thankfully, more than 204,000 physical therapists are currently licensed in the U.S., all practicing under a single vision statement: transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.
According to the APTA, physical therapists are highly educated, licensed health care professionals who exist to help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility – in many cases without the need for expensive surgery and often reducing the need for long-term use of prescription drugs.
“Human health and quality of life depend on the ability to move skillfully and efficiently,” the APTA states in a document titled The Human Movement System. “As a human movement system practitioner, the [physical therapist] has the expertise to examine, diagnose and treat all elements of this system to produce a meaningful change in an individual’s movement behavior and physical function.
“The PT uses his or her integrative knowledge to establish a plan of care to maximize physical performance of people of all ages, pathologies or levels of physical function.”
This, of course, includes post-injury/surgical rehabilitation, but physical therapy is much more than that. In fact, physical therapists are specially trained and licensed to improve people’s lives through the treatment of a number of ailments you may not have previously suspected, such as:
Headaches: Following a thorough evaluation, a physical therapist (PT) can treat chronic tension-type headaches, the most common primary headache disorder, according to the World Health Organization. A PT can identify the cause of such headaches (e.g., muscle tension, joint dysfunction in the neck/jaw, poor posture or stress) and work to improve mobility, strength, posture, and daily work/office routines.
Pre-Natal/Post-Partum Care: Physical therapists can offer relief for expecting mothers experiencing pain and discomfort in the back, hips and legs through treatment and exercise. After delivery, physical therapy is effective in treating back and pelvic pain while helping new moms strengthen their bodies for the rigors of motherhood.
Balance, Dizziness & Vertigo: Physical therapists can assess a person’s balance and risk of fall, then provide treatment (e.g., strength training, flexibility or range of motion exercises, for instance) to help improve balance. Many physical therapists are also specially trained to treat positional vertigo, which can often be successfully treated in a single visit.
Athletic Enhancement: From weekend warriors to elite athletes, physical therapists work with our most active to help them move better, train better and realize their greatest potential as competitors. PTs can provide movement analyses, establish a better training regimen, and assist with equipment selection and adjustments (e.g., shoe orthotics, for instance, or bike fitting).
In addition, the APTA notes that most PT clients in the U.S. don’t need a physician’s referral in order directly access physical therapy services – unless, of course, such referral is required in order to bill insurance. Contact your physical therapist to learn more.