If you have followed my blog the past few years and even read my book, you may have wondered what I do. My identity was blurred for a bit as folks tried to encourage me to leave the field of physical therapy and focus on health coaching. Although I understood why they suggested I do that, for ease and money, I simply couldn't do it.
See, even as I have expanded my knowledge base into nutrition, it hasn't changed the fact that in the world of pain, there are many causative factors. Optimizing nutrition alone may or may not reduce someone's pain if there is a mechanical component. Optimizing movement alone may or may not reduce someone's pain if they are in a physiological inflammatory state from lifestyle issues related to nutrition, sleep or stress.
This past week I attended our national combined sections meeting of the APTA. It was like a knowledge, passion, creativity, compassion and innovation explosion. My introverted nature struggled at times with 13,000 physical therapists there, but I now would like to reclaim my title of physical therapist and explain what physical therapy is in case you didn't know.
A physical therapist is a licensed professional with upper level education, whom helps a patient restore mobility and reduce pain. Physical therapy helps to reduce the need for medication and even promotes healing following surgery or injury. Physical therapists evaluate each individual to establish a baseline and understand the patients needs and goals in order to develop a treatment plan. Treatment often includes exercise, mobility training, stretching, manual techniques in the form of deep tissue or mobilizations, and EDUCATION.
To be clear, physical therapy is NOT a trainer, an acupuncturist, a chiropractor nor a massage therapist. Although all of these fields have value, and we may use techniques similar to those fields, yet we are more encompassing than any one of them alone. Our educational background of anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, psychology and rehabilitation is more exhaustive and inclusive. Each physical therapist may have a specific specialty, yet we all address the patient as a whole, not a single body system.
Who needs physical therapy?
Anyone who has pain or difficulty with mobility or injury of the neuromusculoskeletal system. Physical therapists treat conditions of all systems and improves mobility and even reduces the need for medications. We can help you get back to living your life or decreasing your risk of injury for the high level athlete. Physical Therapy is for nearly everyone as the diversity of diagnosis' improved with physical therapy are endless.
In fact, in many states we can be used directly without a physician referral. Physical Therapists are even being used in Emergency Rooms to screen painful conditions without trauma as many are amenable to physical therapy over medication use.
As I looked around the conference I felt invigorated by the breadth of knowledge and the openness to new ideas and techniques. Physical Therapy has always been integrative of the whole person and the whole body despite our specialties. I had forgotten that in my physical therapy practice I am actually a coach already. Although, the role of nutrition and lifestyle may be relatively new to the field as a whole, for sure, there were signs of both at our national conference in the form of research.
My role as a physical therapist is to look at the whole person which includes lifestyle analysis AND neuormusculoskeletal movement analysis. My role as a physical therapist is to help my patient optimize his/her ability to live life, reduce risks for painful and degenerative conditions, reduce the need for surgery by keeping the body whole or making the body whole again after surgery or injury.
Physical therapists are awesome. Although we may be undervalued, what's worse, is that most don't know what we do.
If you wonder if physical therapy can help you, just ask...or better yet, make an appointment. Ask your doctor or ask a physical therapist.
"Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience." - APTA Vision
Yes...that is what we as physical therapists do....improve the human experience!
How wonderful is that?
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove the idea that you are stuck in your current pain or disease state
Replace with an appointment with physical therapy to see how they can help.
Restore your human experience.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Soar On....with physical therapy.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.