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Physical Therapy 101: The ins and outs, and how it can help you!

Here at GWP Physical Therapy, our goal is to make people feel better, both mentally and physically! We conducted research on the most frequently asked questions in the Gainesville area concerning physical therapy, and we are providing you with the answers! If you have been wondering about physical therapy, how it can be helpful, or figuring out where to start, this blog is for you!

What disabilities benefit from physical therapy?

The short answer is all of them! Whether the disability in question is cognitive in nature, or related to coordination and movement, physical therapy can be a wonderful tool. For example, Alzheimer’s Disease is a disorder of the brain that worsens over time, but it also affects gait and coordination! Research shows that physical therapy is incredibly beneficial to those with Alzheimer’s and other disorders of the brain, because it not only can cognitively challenge the individual to improve mental function, but it also helps to improve coordination and mobility issues that may arise alongside the mental symptoms. No matter your disability, exercise has been proven to be beneficial for cognitive and physical function!

Is physical therapy really necessary?

Whether you’re recovering from surgery, a sports-related injury, or just have general pain, physical therapy is incredibly important in the recovery process! Your Physical Therapist is an expert in the human body and how it moves, making them a great resource for your rehabilitation! They are trained to detect dysfunctional movement patterns and compensatory strategies, and will give you exercises specific to you that will not only help you recover from your current injury, but also will greatly reduce the risk of further injuries!

Is physical therapy really necessary?

Whether you’re recovering from surgery, a sports-related injury, or just have general pain, physical therapy is incredibly important in the recovery process! Your Physical Therapist is an expert in the human body and how it moves, making them a great resource for your rehabilitation! They are trained to detect dysfunctional movement patterns and compensatory strategies, and will give you exercises specific to you that will not only help you recover from your current injury, but also will greatly reduce the risk of further injuries!

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How soon do you start physical therapy?

Our general advice to people who have been injured is to get moving as soon as possible! Staying sedentary after an injury can cause delayed healing, prolonged pain, and movement dysfunctions that can become habits! As we read the literature, it supports the idea that early intervention and movement leads to quicker recoveries!

How many times a week should you do physical therapy?

This changes from person to person, and from injury to injury. There is no exact formula on the frequency one should attend physical therapy, but there are general guidelines. Typically for traumatic injuries (car accidents, sports injuries, etc) that caused significant amounts of pain and swelling, we generally recommend twice a week for a few weeks until we are able to get pain and inflammation under control. For people coming to us for general complaints of pain and non-emergent conditions, we typically suggest once a week for a few weeks. However, no matter how frequently you visit the clinic, we always suggest continuing your exercise at home with a home exercise program! This allows you to continue strengthening and recovering at home, leading to quicker recovery rates for those that are compliant with their home program.

Can you just stop physical therapy?

We always recommend following through with the plan of care suggested by your therapist. Seeing your plan of care to the end is how you get the best results possible! At the end of the day, our goal is to help you reach all of your goals. We will always listen to your concerns and your insight to your recovery, and we will never keep you in physical therapy longer than you are willing. However, we will always be honest and kind with our recommendations on duration of care! Every person and every injury will respond to physical therapy differently, which is why we conduct frequent re-evaluations to ensure that we are being as effective with treatment as possible.

Can you do physical therapy alone?

In short, yes, you can always try to rehabilitate on your own. However, the danger runs in looking up exercises online, and running into the possibility of not doing them correctly, or if you have any other unknown compensatory strategies or secondary issues that could have caused your injury in the first place! While we will always advocate for home exercise, we also want to be sure that you are able to get to the root of your problem, and not just treat the symptoms. Working one-on-one with a physical therapist will give you the opportunity to be sure that you are setting up achievable goals, performing your exercises safely and correctly, as well as tackle any other issues that may be contributing to your pain!

Can you do physical therapy alone?

In short, yes, you can always try to rehabilitate on your own. However, the danger runs in looking up exercises online, and running into the possibility of not doing them correctly, or if you have any other unknown compensatory strategies or secondary issues that could have caused your injury in the first place! While we will always advocate for home exercise, we also want to be sure that you are able to get to the root of your problem, and not just treat the symptoms. Working one-on-one with a physical therapist will give you the opportunity to be sure that you are setting up achievable goals, performing your exercises safely and correctly, as well as tackle any other issues that may be contributing to your pain!

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What do you wear to a physical therapy appointment?

Of course, it is always dependent upon the injury and the area being treated, but our general suggestion is that you wear something comfortable that allows you to move easily! For example, for shoulder rehabilitation, we would recommend either wearing a tank top or a shirt with loose fitting sleeves. For the knee, we suggest wearing shorts, or pants that can be easily pulled up over the knee. These guidelines help us to be able to effectively treat the area of concern. We find that patients are the most comfortable when they avoid wearing jeans, dresses, skirts, and tight-fitting clothing.

Do I need a diagnosis before physical therapy?

You do not need a diagnosis before you begin physical therapy! Physical Therapists are trained on special tests to help us to be able to determine your issue and set up an appropriate plan of care. Imaging, such as x-rays or MRI can be helpful, but are by no means necessary.

Why do doctors send you to physical therapy?

Physical therapy is incredibly beneficial in the recovery and rehabilitation process. Doctors send people to physical therapy to help them begin to move better, reduce compensatory patterns, and reduce the chance of re-injury!

What is included in a physical therapy evaluation?

First, we begin with talking to you about your injury, how it happened, and what limitations you are experiencing. We will then take you through a series of tests and measurements in order to get a better understanding of your injury, your range of motion, and your strength. Afterward, we will do any necessary soft tissue work, taping, and give you exercises for you to complete at home until your next appointment!

How long does it take to see results from physical therapy?

At every session, we are assessing your improvement from the initial evaluation, and even just the previous week! General tissue healing takes anywhere between 6-8 weeks, but patients usually begin to see results from physical therapy at about a month! However, seeing results at a month does not always mean that we recommend people to discontinue treatment. We want to help you achieve all the goals you set at the initial evaluation, and doing so may take longer than 4 weeks.

How long does it take to see results from physical therapy?

At every session, we are assessing your improvement from the initial evaluation, and even just the previous week! General tissue healing takes anywhere between 6-8 weeks, but patients usually begin to see results from physical therapy at about a month! However, seeing results at a month does not always mean that we recommend people to discontinue treatment. We want to help you achieve all the goals you set at the initial evaluation, and doing so may take longer than 4 weeks.

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Should I go to physical therapy if I’m in pain?

Coming to physical therapy when you’re in pain is one of the best decisions you can make! Through the use of modalities such as soft tissue work, joint mobilization, and corrective exercise, we are able to decrease pain in the majority of our patients and help them leave feeling better than when they arrived!

Does physical therapy work for arthritis?

Physical therapy can help patients with arthritis by decreasing pain and improving mobility. We have also helped people to establish exercise routines that don’t cause an increase in pain or inflammation.

Does physical therapy work for a pinched nerve?

Physical therapy can be helpful for pinched nerves. Through specific soft tissue work and exercise, we are able to decrease the stress placed on the nerve, helping to decrease pain, as well as strengthen and stabilize the surrounding areas to minimize the chance of it happening again!

Are there side effects to physical therapy?

It is common to have some soreness after a physical therapy session due to the strengthening exercises we give you as well as the soft tissue work. We encourage our patients to let us know how they feel after a treatment so that we can make any necessary modifications to their next session.

Can physical therapy cause problems?

Physical therapy should not cause additional problems or further complicate your diagnosis. Our goal is to get you out of pain and back to function! We strongly encourage our patients to maintain open communication with their therapist so that any necessary changes can be made as soon as possible.

Meet our
Therapist

Megan Livingston

Megan Livingston
PTA, AIB-VRC

Physical Therapist Assistant

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