National PT Month Highlights Benefits of ‘Movement Experts’
When you think of physical therapy, you may think of going to a specialist who helps you walk again after an injury, but physical therapy is actually much more than that.
Physical therapists are considered “movement experts,” according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and specialize in optimizing quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care and patient education.
“Once we evaluate a patient, we personalize our treatment to fit their goals, whether that’s improving mobility, helping them recover from injury, preventing future injury and chronic disease, or managing pain and other chronic conditions,” said Mike Williamson, PT, DPT, ATC, physical therapist and director of Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation at Hattiesburg Clinic.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has noted a high demand for physical therapists in recent years and estimates employment of physical therapists to grow 36 percent by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.
“The need for physical therapy in an individual’s lifetime may be determined by a variety of factors. The older a person gets, the higher the chance for age-related health conditions that may require physical therapy. Jobs or sports that demand a lot of physical or repetitive activity may result in an injury or condition that warrants someone to see a physical therapist. There are also many chronic diseases that can be addressed with physical therapy,” said Williamson.
In recognition of National Physical Therapy Month in October, the following are ways the APTA says physical therapy can benefit someone in their medical treatment:
Pain-free movement is vital to a person’s overall quality of life, including their ability to earn a living and their independence. As movement experts, PTs are able to identify and treat movement problems.
Allows people to participate in their recovery:
With physical therapy, patients are empowered to have an active part in their own treatment. The physical therapist works collaboratively with other health care professionals, such as specialists or the person’s primary care provider so the patient receives comprehensive care.
Helps alleviate the need for opioids:
Risks of using opioids include depression, overdose and addiction. While in some cases prescription opioids are an appropriate part of medical treatment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges health care providers to reduce the use of opioids in favor of safe alternatives like physical therapy for most long-term pain.
Helps avoid surgery:
Treatment by a physical therapist has been found to be an alternative to surgery for some conditions, including meniscal tears and knee osteoarthritis, rotator cuff tears, spinal stenosis and degenerative disk disease.
For more about physical therapy or services offered by physical therapists throughout the Pine Belt, visit www.hattiesburgclinic.com/physical-therapy.