Physical Therapy: What To Expect And How It Affects Your Lifestyle

April 13, 2021
Woman with physiotherapist exercising and reinforcing the vertebral column.

You may have heard of physical therapy before, but you might not know all that much about it. If it is never something that you have to experience, that will be better for you. It can help you out in some dramatic ways if you are dealing with various conditions or injuries, but it is not exactly fun.

We will talk a little more about physical therapy in this article. We will cover what happens there, when you are likely to need it, and how your life can change if you go through a few sessions.

When Do You Need Physical Therapy?

There are all kinds of conditions where a doctor might tell you to go to physical therapy to improve your life quality. For instance, maybe you were in a car accident, and you hurt yourself. That happens pretty often.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently stated that in 2018, there were 128,420 accidents. Other states report similar statistics, though they might go up or down depending on how populous those states are and how many large cities you find.   

Aside from car accident-related injuries, you might have to seek physical therapy if you are developing arthritis. Your doctor might tell you to go after knee, ankle, or shoulder surgery. You may have to go after a slip-and-fall in a store or a work-related mishap.

What Happens Once You Get There?

When you arrive for physical therapy, you will meet with one of the physical therapists. These are not doctors, but they do have to receive extensive training before they can work with you to help you recover.

Physical therapists have an excellent working knowledge of the human anatomy. They will look at the prescription or treatment course that your doctor sent over with you. Generally, you cannot just show up at a physical therapist’s office and seek treatment without a doctor referring you.

One of the things that the physical therapist or the receptionist will ask you is whether this injury or condition is work-related. They will treat you whether it is or is not. If you are injured yourself at work, though, or you developed this condition while working over time, then your worker’s comp insurance can help you pay for your sessions.

If you did not hurt yourself or develop the condition at work, then you will still need health insurance to pay for it. If you do not have it, and you have to pay out of pocket, that is going to be quite expensive. If you have health insurance, but you have a high deductible plan, you might have to pay anywhere from $30-75 per session.

What Happens During The Sessions?

Once the physical therapist asks you some questions, they will develop a treatment plan for you. Essentially, that will be a series of stretches and exercises. Physical therapists, often working with doctors, design these programs to do two things: improve your flexibility and strengthen the damaged or weakened body part.

A physical therapy center looks a lot like a gym. You might see parallel bars like they use for gymnastics. You will have many different-colored resistance bands, free weights, exercise bikes, and other equipment.

In the beginning, your physical therapist might take some measurements. They are attempting to ascertain the injured or affected body part’s motion range. Then, they will start you with some light exercises.

The exercises will get more intense and challenging as the treatment moves along. The physical therapist will also give you some printouts that tell you what exercises to undertake at home. You have to do them every day to reduce your pain, gain strength, and recover any lost flexibility.

How Can This Change Your Life?

To put it mildly, physical therapy is not easy. If you are trying to come back from a surgery, for instance, the physical therapist might stretch you out before or after a session. That can be excruciating, because they are manipulating muscles, tendons, and ligaments that have atrophied from lack of use.

You might feel like you hate your physical therapist sometimes, because of the pain they are putting you through. Remember, though, they are medical professionals, and they are trying to improve your life quality.

Often, that is just what they accomplish. Physical therapists are not miracle workers, but frequently, if you stick with the program they lay out for you, you can feel much less pain and gain flexibility and strength. Usually, at the end of weeks or months of physical therapy, you will notice significant life improvement.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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