"I want to congratulate each and every one of the staff, as I am so pleased to work with such a great group of people" said Mary Veale, Manager of the Physical Rehabilitation department.
The following information was published in For Your Health - a publication of the American Physical Therapy Association.
Physical therapists are health care providers who are experts in the examination and treatment of problems that affect peoples' abilities to move and function.
These abilities are driven by four major systems in the body-musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular/pulmonary, and integumentary-and physical therapists, or PTs, are educated and experienced to manage all four. For instance, PTs help patients with orthopedic problems such as knee surgeries to reduce pain and regain function. They provide treatment so that patients recovering from a stroke can learn to use their limbs again.
Movement and function
The ability to stand or sit upright and to move your arms and legs without difficulty or pain is an important component of your health. And for some of us, the ability to move is not merely a matter of walking or handling objects. Cardiac and pulmonary problems may interfere with the body's ability to use oxygen, the "fuel" of muscles and movement.
Because people of all ages need to move and function, PTs work with patients and clients from newborns to the very aged - and in all types of settings, from hospitals (including critically ill patients in intensive care units) and outpatient clinics to the home, from schools to the workplace. PTs don't confine their talents to treating people who are ill or injured. A large part of a PT's program is directed at preventing injury and loss of movement.
For example, PTs consult in industrial settings to improve workplace design and reduce risks of overusing certain muscles or developing low back pain. They also provide services to athletes at all levels to screen for potential problems and institute preventive exercise programs.
Some PTs consult with individuals and fitness clubs to develop workouts that are safe and effective, especially for people who already know that they have a problem with their joints or their backs. Certain populations - people with chronic diseases such as obesity, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or muscular dystrophy - can benefit from specialized exercise programs designed by PTs.
Because PTs are required to understand a vast array of problems that can affect movement, function, and health, all PTs are college graduates. In fact, the majority of current physical therapist education programs graduate students with a clinical doctorate (DPT) in physical therapy. Also, all PTs must pass a national examination and be licensed by the state in which they practice.
The cornerstones of physical therapist treatment are therapeutic exercise and functional training. In addition to "hands on" care, PTs also educate patients to take care of themselves and to perform certain exercises on their own. Depending on the particular needs of a patient, PTs also may manipulate a joint (that is, perform certain types of passive movements at the end of the patient's range of motion) or massage a muscle to promote proper movement and function.
PTs use such techniques as electrotherapy, ultrasound (high-frequency waves that produce heat), and other forms of heat and cold. Although other kinds of practitioners offer some of these treatments, it is important to know that physical therapy can be provided only by qualified physical therapists or by physical therapist assistants. The latter must complete a two-year college education program and may work only under the direction and supervision of a PT.
Health insurance covers most forms of physical therapy, but coverage varies with each plan. Some people choose to pay for physical therapy directly, even if their policy does not cover their program or if their benefits have run out. This practice is growing, as most states do not legally require a physician's referral for you to see a physical therapist. To find out if your state permits "direct access" to physical therapist services, visit the American Physical Therapy Association's Web site at www.apta.org.
Finding your ownphysical therapist
You can find a PT who's right for you through recommendations from family or friends, or by checking telephone listings and doing your own research. One factor to consider is that PTs (and physical therapist assistants) who are members of the American Physical Therapy Association are bound by the Association's Code of Ethics and are especially committed to providing competent and compassionate care.
You can locate APTA member PTs in your area through "Find a PT" on the APTA Web site at www.apta.org/consumer. Be aware that even if your state requires a physician's referral for physical therapy, you always have the right to see the PT of your choice.