DR. GAURAV VAID
The 8th of September is celebrated as World Physical Therapy Day.
On this day, let us revisit the nature of Physical Therapy, its practice and evolving methods.
Physical Therapy commonly known as Physiotherapy, one amongst many allied health sciences is an emerging dynamic profession, focused on evidence based studies and has been in vogue since 460 BC. Hippocrates and later Galen are believed to have been the first practitioners advocating massage, manual therapy and hydrotherapy techniques. As the developments and advancements occur in the field of medical sciences, Physical Therapy also grew with time to time and in this modern era, it is one of the established field which has an impact on a global scale.
Physical Therapy is the pre-habilitation and rehabilitation concerned with prevention of disability and restoration of function following disease, disorder, injury or loss of body part(s). The therapeutic properties of force, exercise, heat, cold, electricity, water, ultraviolet radiation, infra-red rays, elasticity, laser, massage and manual techniques are used to ease pain, improve circulation, strengthen muscles, encourage return of motion, train or retrain an individual to perform the activities of daily living.
Physiotherapists benefit patients with their examinations, investigations (clinical and diagnostics), diagnosis, prognosis and physical intervention. Physical Therapy diagnoses are accepted in accordance to medical or pathologic diagnosis and frequently, functional definitions of problems can be used as diagnostic statements for physical therapy interventions.
Often when people think about Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy, they have images of someone struggling out of a wheelchair to learn to walk again or learning how to move after a severe accident, injury or illness. However, one need not be severely debilitated to benefit from physiotherapy. If one has physical pain or discomfort, then these could be good indicators that some therapy could benefit him or her enormously.
Sometimes people play down their physical ailments or even learn to live with chronic pain and discomfort. The body is miraculous at compensating for weaknesses and before one knows it, he or she has either adapted or got used to a physical setback. While there’s no reason to seek out the services of a physiotherapist for every ache and pain, one does not have to be unable to move at all to reap the benefits of some of the right type of muscle manipulation and focus that physiotherapy brings.
Here are ‘7 signs we may need physiotherapy’ and if we relate to even just one, we might want to consider how we can help your body heal in the right way and become strong:
Balance and Coordination: Physiotherapy can retrain our body to move without falling over. Disequilibrium can be caused by a multitude of underlying issues and whilst we may want to work out what the root of the problem is, we might want to challenge the effects and symptoms too. Unless we tackle this issue, we may be more vulnerable to falls and mishaps in the future;
Pain won’t go away: If we are suffering from back or neck pain and perhaps have strains and sprains or muscle imbalances caused by core muscle weakness, then there’s no reason to suffer in silence. Often , pain can come and go and it is because of this intermittent nature that people often keep quiet and just put up with it. Physiotherapy specifically targets pain and this, along with increasing mobility, is the cornerstone of what this type of therapy aims to accomplish;
Flare Up Problems: Do we have an old injury that just won’t seem to heal or completely go away? Do we find that we are okay for a while but then certain activities or even environments can really cause symptoms to rear up again? If we didn’t deal with an injury when it was fresh, then it can take much longer to heal and sometimes that part of our will never be the same again. However, physiotherapy is designed to address not only recent physical problems, but ones that have built up over time and nag at the body;
Mobility Issues: It can be amazing just how much one simple injury can affect our whole body. If we ever had a fracture then we’ll know exactly what it feels like to have a part of your body that we really rely on not function in the way that it should. While it is all too easy to accept that we now have a funny knee and hobble a bit when walking, perhaps because of an old sport injury, for example, there’s no reason to accept restrictive or even painful movement for years to come;
Pain In Other Areas: Sometimes the point of injury is not the point of pain. We might have initially impacted or had some weakness in one part of our body, only to find that a different part of our suffering, or becomes susceptible to pain and lack of mobility. If we have pain in our body but can’t attribute it to a specific incident or accident, could it be related to another part of mine that was injured?
Neurological Problems: People who have suffered a stroke quite often need extensive physiotherapy, to learn mobility skills – sometimes all over again. Become aware of our body and how each bit of mine is interconnected. If problems of a neurological nature have played a part in our life, then it may be time to reassess if and how this has impacted us and what we can do about it;
Disturbed Sleep: If we have chronic lower back pain then we’ll know that insomnia can be a result of that discomfort. Sleep patterns are a good indicator of what is going on inside our body. If we have problems getting to sleep, suffer from fitful nights, or simply don’t feel fully rested when we wake up, one cause could be pain and mobility problems. Sleep is a good indicator of our physical state.
In the contemporary modern era, most of the ailments are because of our lifestyles and the irony is, not only the older group or young adults, kids are also affected because of new so called improvised lifestyles. It has been noted down in papers and new researches have shown that if things will not be well taken care and if we will fail to channelize the masses of all ages to wellness, the coming generations will suffer differently. Physical Therapy has enrooted itself in all the branches of medical sciences and playing a vital role in managing the ailments. It has led to Collaborative Practice where teams from different fraternities are giving their best to the patients and it enhances the recovery in many folds. Physical therapists hold a good position because of their wide spectrum of practice and treatments.
All in all Physical Therapy is changing from conventional to modern techniques. The vision has been broadened with time and is experiencing rapid growth, finding new ways to utilize the advancements to the benefit of both patients and practice. Change and faith towards allied health care system has increased preferences, opinions and belief; therefore Physical Therapy is adding life to years and years to life.
—The author is a Physical Therapist. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org