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October 31, 2006 > Get Moving with the Help of Physical Therapy

Get Moving with the Help of Physical Therapy

by Washington Hospital

The road to healing after an injury, surgery, stroke or a chronic condition often passes down the physical therapy path. October is Physical Therapy Month in recognition of physical therapists and the work they do to help restore patients with a wide range of health problems to their highest level of physical function.

Physical therapy is the use of exercises and physical activities to help condition muscles and restore strength and movement as part of recovery from a variety of musculoskeletal problems. Physical therapists (PTs) work closely with doctors, nurses, speech therapists, occupational therapists and a multitude of other departments within the hospital to best support the recovery of a patient.

“Physical therapists get patients up and moving and help them become more physically active,” explains Karen McCarty, MPT, a Physical Therapist at Washington Hospital. “Physical therapists are licensed health care professionals who work with patients who have an array of problems, which may include limitations from strokes, back pain, arthritis, patient recovering from surgery, and other musculoskeletal related injuries.”

Physical therapists can work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, homes and schools.  A patient who has functional limitations due to orthopedic, neurological, cardiac or more general health problems can work with a physical therapist to increase mobility and the ability to perform daily activities in order to enhance overall health. Physical therapy can help relieve pain and can prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities for patients suffering from injuries or disease.

Michael Scates, MSPT, is the lead therapist at the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. The center specializes in outpatient orthopedic physical therapy and outpatient occupational therapy. “We work with patients that have recently undergone joint replacement surgery and athletes recovering from sports injuries,” Scates says. “Our facility also has a heated therapeutic pool for aquatic therapy.”

Physical therapists work with many types of patients. A stroke patient who needs to practice sitting balance to learning how to walk again works with a physical therapist. A physical therapist can work with someone suffering from arthritis to help decrease pain and increase function.

“In the hospital, physical therapy is needed to help patients increase their functional mobility from getting out of bed to walking down the hall,” McCarty says. “PT’s help teach patients and families how to use assistive equipment like canes, walkers and wheelchairs. We also teach patients therapeutic exercises to increase their musculoskeletal strength and help reduce pain.”

To emphasis the vast ways in which physical therapists interact with individuals to aid in overall health and fitness, the American Physical Therapy Association has declared that this year, National Physical Therapy Month is focusing on a proper bike fit. Whether you are a recreational cyclist or enjoy competing, the way in which your body sits on a bike and your posture affect your comfort and performance when you ride. A proper bike fit can minimize discomfort and help prevent pain and injury. Since every individual is a different size and shape, and everyone develops different patterns of movement and different body alignment, the skills of a physical therapist can help a person discover how to most safely and effectively move the body for overall health and fitness.

A physician’s prescription is necessary for a physical therapist to treat a patient. Talk to your doctor if you think you may benefit from physical therapy to improve your daily life and health.

“PTs are healthcare providers who want to help their patients improve their health status by increasing their functional mobility,” McCarty says.

To learn more about careers at Washington Hospital, visit www.whhs.com and click on “Careers.” Washington Hospital has several ways to learn about the programs and professionals that make up your community hospital. InHealth, A Washington Hospital Channel is currently airing “Voices InHealth: Careers in Health Care” on Comcast Channel 78. In this program, Washington Hospital staff members discuss current career opportunities in the health care profession. InHealth Channel 78 is available to Comcast subscribers in Newark, Union City and Fremont.

 
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