Obtaining Physical Therapy
By Stephen F. Conti, MD
Orthopaedic surgeons often recommend physical therapy to help a patient’s healing process and restore physical abilities. It may be prescribed as a course of treatment for a musculoskeletal injury or chronic condition, or after surgical procedures to improve results and ensure a successful outcome.
Physical therapy may start with a prescription from your orthopaedic surgeon outlining the exact diagnosis and recommendations for treatment.
The goal of physical therapy is to help patients build strength, flexibility and range of motion. It has two components:
- Outpatient physical therapy provided by specialists at a certified rehabilitation facility;
- Exercises performed independently at home by the patient;
Your orthopaedic surgeon and physical therapist are in close communication concerning diagnosis, treatment, and progress.
The Patient’s Role
The success of your physical therapy depends on your commitment to the program. Patients who attend in-office therapy appointments a few times a week, but do not continue their exercises at home, may not experience the full benefits of the therapy.
During your first physical therapy session, the therapist will evaluate your injury or condition, discuss your goals and specific needs, and develop an individualized treatment plan. It’s important to make sure your therapist:
- Fully explains what will be done during the session
- Demonstrates the exercises you’re expected to do at home
Remember, your physical therapist cannot do it without you! The therapist can provide you with the tools to recover but it’s up to you to follow through with the prescribed home exercises and stretches.