Physical Therapy: An Overview

Peer Reviewed

The Physical Therapy Department focuses on the musculoskeletal needs of our patients. As team players, the spine specialist, physical therapist, and occupational therapist all work together with the patient and family members to aid in the patient’s recovery process. The spine specialist determines the patient’s injury and type of surgery needed when necessary.

Physical Therapy SessionBased on the medical evaluation, the spine specialist recommends physical therapy and occupational therapy when indicated. The physician provides the therapist with a prescription including a diagnosis and recommendation of duration, frequency, and treatment. A rehabilitation program is devised based upon the therapist’s initial evaluation. A treatment plan is then designed to meet the patient’s specific goals and the patient is progressed per their treatment protocols.

The physical therapist designs a personalized exercise program to treat the patient’s injury or surgical procedure. The role of the therapist is to evaluate and manage a program, which is designed to accomplish the goals set by both the patient and their therapist. Based on the patient’s evaluation and objective measurement, the type of treatment may include a muscle strengthening program, a flexibility and general conditioning program, and pain management program. Treatment may include a specific exercise or rehabilitation program and modalities such as moist heat, paraffin, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, iontophoresis, ice, a home exercise program, and “hands on” consisting of myofascial release, soft tissue massage, passive range of motion, and joint mobilization, as needed.

The goals of physical therapy depend on the patient’s type and level of activity to which the patient would like to return regarding their particular activities such as golf and tennis. The goals of a patient’s treatment plan is to restore joint function and joint mobility, increase muscle strength, decrease pain and inflammation, improve flexibility, resume normal activities, and return to sports as tolerated.

All of these goals can be achieved by working together as a team to help the patient recover from an injury or surgical procedure, helping to pave their road to recovery.

Updated on: 10/26/15
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Todd Albert, MD
Physical therapy is an important adjunct to the other non-operative treatments for spinal pathologies. It can be extremely helpful in avoiding surgical intervention, as an adjunct in the post-operative rehabilitation, and to condition patients that are in need of surgery.
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Physiatrists Help Patients Manage Neck and Back Pain

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