What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of physical therapy?? 
I hear so many people tell me that physical therapy is “just exercise”. In fact, recently I was speaking to a group of people (some who had no idea what I did for a living)… one woman, lets refer to her as Sarah, was talking about how her back was really bothering her and her doctor wanted her to go to physical therapy. I was so proud to hear the suggestion from the doctor but before I could get a word out, the next statement from her was “I don’t want to go to therapy, all they are going to make me do is just exercise” 
HALT!!! PUT ON THE BRAKES!! One of my friends made eye contact with me… she knew I was going to take this opportunity to provide some education to Sarah. 
Me: “Have you ever been to physical therapy before?”
Sarah:  “No, but I know a lot of people who have”
Me: “Why do you think they just make you exercise?” 
Sarah: “Because my dad went to physical therapy after his knee replacement and that’s all they made him do”
Me: “Would you believe me if I told you that not all physical therapy providers and facilities are alike?”
Sarah: “yeah, I suppose that would make sense” 
This now opened the door to speak more about more openly about physical therapy. I told Sarah that I was a Physical Therapist Assistant and have been working in the field for 8 years. We talked about her back pain and how she was limited. She talked about how picking up her baby from the crib was painful and how it was harder for her to clean the house because some days her back would be hurting. I knew that PT could definitely help Sarah overcome some of those challenges and get her feeling better quick!
To make a long story short, I spoke specifically to Sarah about what PT can do for her and that the intervention would most definitely include more than “just exercise”. Because physical therapy is so much more than “exercise”. We are blessed at our facilities to have many tools in our tool box when it comes to treatment interventions for our patients. 
What does that include?? (I am so glad you asked!)
-Manual Therapy (massage, muscle energy techniques, joint mobilizations etc)
-Modalities for pain relief (Ultrasound, TENS, electrical stimulation, hot packs, cold pack, light therapy etc)
-Aquatic Therapy (performing exercises in a pool with decrease impact on the joints)
-Trigger Point Dry Needling (this is not as scary as it sounds!) 
-Functional Strengthening
-Traction for the low back and neck
Seriously, I feel like I could go on and on. Now, not every one of these interventions is appropriate for every diagnosis but the point is, there is a lot more to PT than “just exercise”. The beauty of physical therapy is that we have many tools to help an individual reach their goals and get back to the life they want to live. 
I should also mention that I am happy to report that “Sarah” did decide to go to physical therapy and is well on her way to feeling better! 
Now hopefully when you think of PT, you will remember that physical therapy is really about using many tools/interventions (exercise included) to help get an individual back to feeling their best and doing the things they enjoy doing. We are more than “just exercise”. 

Share your PT experiences with us! We would love to hear from you! 

Jackie Giese, LPTA 
Physical Therapy Consultants

April 27th, 2017

Posted In: General

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