Top 5 Misconceptions of Physical Therapy

Top 5 Misconceptions of Physical Therapy

By Phil Piserchia, PTA

1) Myth:Going to Physical therapy will hurt.
Truth: Although you might experience minimal pain or discomfort at the beginning of your treatment, the main goal of physical therapy is to minimize pain and discomfort. A good physical therapist will work within your pain threshold to help you heal while restoring function and movement. If at any time you experience more than slight discomfort, discuss with your physical therapist to see if your treatment plan needs adjustment.

2) Myth: I need to be injured to see a physical therapist.
Truth: Rehabilitation following an injury or surgery is just a portion of what physical therapists may provide. It’s common for a physical therapy to treat other common dysfunctions like balance and vestibular issues, headaches, pelvic pain, chronic pain, incontinence, and joint and muscle discomfort. Therapists also work with patients to prevent injuries and improve athletic performance as well.

3) Myth: Surgery or medication are better options to get rid of my pain.
Truth: Surgery and medication have a place as medical treatments, but multiple studies have shown that physical therapy is more effective and safer than options like prescription painkillers or common surgeries for lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, and meniscus tears in the knee.

4) Myth: I can do physical therapy myself at home, I don’t need to go to a clinic.
Truth: Participation of the patient at home is key to a successful treatment plan, but every patient still needs the expert care and guidance of a licensed physical therapist. Your therapist will use their specialized education, clinical expertise, and most recent clinical evidence to evaluate your needs to make a diagnosis and create an individualized plan of care to treat the patient.

5) Myth: Physical therapy is just exercise and massage.
Truth: The most effective treatment plan for a variety of musculoskeletal issues is a combination and synergy of manual therapy, modalities, patient education, stretching, and exercise. Patients should not expect a full recovery performing just exercises alone. Every plan of care is different and will be customized to meet a patient’s individual needs and goals.

 

What is the difference between DPTs and PTAs?

By Phil Piserchia, PTA

Physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) perform many of the same basic responsibilities but some key characteristics set them apart. A PT is a licensed healthcare professional that completed a graduate program to help patients reduce pain and restore or improve mobility. A DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy, is now the entry level for the professional graduate degree for PTs. A PTA is an associate-degreed and licensed healthcare professional that works under the direction and supervision of a PT.

The biggest difference between PTs and PTAs in the outpatient setting is that a PTA cannot do the initial evaluation, set up a plan of care for a patient, or discharge a patient. Once the patient has had their initial evaluation with the PT and a plan of care is established, PTAs can provide the same interventions as the PTs. This includes manual therapy, stretching, mobilizing joints, instructing and progressing their exercises during therapeutic exercise, and assigning an home exercise program.

Ultimately, PTs and PTAs work together as a team to achieve the best patient outcomes to manage pain and to help the patient to return to their prior level of function or highest level of independent living for everyday activities. The procedural mechanics of the human body, proper therapy interventions, and evidence based practice are learned both through both the PT and PTA educational programs. As a patient, you may not even notice a difference between being treated by a PT or a PTA.

Posted in: Physical Therapy

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