Injured? Visiting a physical therapist can help you bounce back

Your intentions are good. You are going to start a new exercise program. You are taking all the right steps to get healthy and fit, but then it happens. Your progress is stalled by an injury. 

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Maybe it is a sore knee that makes it painful to squat down, a grinding shoulder that makes it difficult to reach overhead, or a tweak in your lower back that makes it difficult to bend over. Injuries can put a damper on your ability to continue your exercise program and achieve that healthy lifestyle you are striving for. What can be done when this happens? 

A great place to start would be with a visit to your physical therapist (PT).  Many people delay this important visit to PT thinking the pain will just go away on its own. Sometimes this can happen, but the injury often becomes worse or can last longer without early access to professional care and guidance.  

People have shared with me that the idea of seeing a PT can be a little scary.  I am hopeful that some knowledge of what to expect at the PT clinic will lessen your fears and make it easier to take that first step. When you call one of our PT offices for the first time you will initiate the registration process. The receptionist will work with you to find a mutually acceptable time for your initial appointment. You will also be asked screening questions related to COVID-19.  

When you arrive at the clinic for your first appointment, you will now notice signs on the doors indicating that masks are required in the building.  When you enter, you will be greeted by a receptionist, COVID-19 screening questions will be reviewed, and your temperature will be checked. All registration paperwork will be completed and explained.

Once the registration process is complete, your PT will greet you and lead you to a private treatment area where they will talk with you about the details of your injury and pertinent medical history. The PT will make observations of your injured area and will take you through a series of movements as well as measurements of strength, flexibility, and other special tests specific to your injury. The results of these observations, measurements, and tests will be interpreted by the PT and communicated back to you so that you have a good understanding of your injury and prognosis.  

Based on the evaluation of your injury, the PT will develop with you a plan of care that is individualized to your case. The PT will discuss specific treatments that will be a part of your healing process including manual stretching, strength and mobility exercises, and other treatments to decrease your pain. 

You and your PT will also discuss the frequency and duration of your therapy as well as self-management strategies and home exercises to further enhance your treatment benefits. The PT will discuss the importance of following through with your plan of care and encourage active participation in your program.  

With self-discipline, a little effort, and the plan that you and your PT develop together, you can be confident that you will improve and be able to get back to living your healthy and fit lifestyle.

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Aaron Holly, MSPT, MTC, is the vice president of professional development and the Okemos clinic director at Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists. Reach him at (517) 220-4540.

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