Rehabilitation, Not Just For Injuries Anymore

Monday, October 28, 2013
Tammy Curry, Physical Therapist at Fitzgibbon Hospital utilizing Lymphedema Therapy on a patient.

October is National Physical Therapy Month sponsored by the American Physical Therapy Association. This month is designed to recognize the impact of physical therapists and assistants in their efforts to restore and improve motion in people's lives.

Physical therapy is defined as a treatment for impairments and disabilities and promotes mobility, functional ability, quality of life and movement through examination, evaluation, diagnosis and physical intervention carried out by physical therapists and physical therapist assistants.

"A person might come to physical therapy for pain that is either chronic or something that has been a recent change in how well they function," said Sharon Lammers, who has been a Physical Therapist at Fitzgibbon Hospital since 2005. "They might also come to us after weakness after a surgery or illness."

Physical therapists are known to help with arthritis, back pain, knee pain, obesity, shoulder pain, osteoporosis, stroke, sprains, fractures and other injuries.

A physical therapist is often needed to improve ability and motion after surgery or an injury has occurred. Physical therapists are able to design personal treatment plans to help avoid injury whether at work or play.

"Physical therapy is very important after a surgery because it helps the patient get moving faster, and reduces their risk for complications such as pneumonia or blood clots. It also shortens recovery time," Lammers said.

Physical therapy can also be used as an alternative to some surgeries and can help eliminate pain. Physical therapy can prolong life and enhance the quality of life.

"We see a lot of people after surgery with rotator cuff, total joint replacements, stroke, injuries that are sports related, but many people don't know that we also work with children who have had medical problems or delays in development," Lammers continued.

Before your visit with a physical therapist, there are some steps you can take to improve your preparedness and better your chance for successful treatment. Make a list of any questions that you have so that you can make the best use of your time with the therapist. It is also recommended that you write down any symptoms that may be affecting you including your medical history. If appropriate, it may be beneficial to arrange for a friend to attend your physical therapy session with you to make you more comfortable. Before inviting a friend, you should talk to your physical therapist.

During the first visit with a therapist, you will be asked a lot of questions about your health and condition. The physical therapist may also conduct a detailed examination which includes evaluating balance, strength, flexibility, posture and heart rate. They may also evaluate the way you walk, lie down in certain positions and how you use your body for certain activities.

The therapist will then work with you to determine goals for physical therapy and develop a plan for treatment.

"Some people just require a few visits to be taught a program at home. Others require a longer treatment for a progression in their program under the supervision of their therapist," Lammers said.

At Fitzgibbon, the team of five physical therapists and six physical therapist assistants provide rehabilitation of sports injuries, stroke, spinal cord injuries, fall prevention, developmental challenges, workers compensation, home health and in-patient services. Services offered include aquatic therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and they also use the nationally certified Graston Technique to break up scar tissue and adhesions and improve soft tissue mobility. Fitzgibbon is the only rehabilitation program to offer a Certified Lymphedema therapy program in our area.

To begin your physical therapy, you must be referred by a physician, so ask them to refer you to Fitzgibbon Rehabilitation Services. For more information visit