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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Treating Injuries With Physical Therapy

When people are injured it is important to restore function and movement as soon as possible to some reasonable form. Everyone is eager to get back to their life, job or recreational activities. The pain of injury is difficult, disruptive to one's normal activities and discouraging. The longer the injury goes on the more likely depression ensues. Early mobilization is the ticket to success in overcoming injury. This has to be done within reason, with patience and an understanding of the body mechanics relevant to the injured body part. The plan tailored to the injury and level of conditioning is the physical therapy. It remains the cornerstone of recovery and preventing further injury in the future.

The basics of therapy during the initial acute phase are well known: rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.). Early mobilization of the injured part within reason as well as the rest of the body is beneficial. It continues to maintain muscle tone which starts to atrophy as soon as 24 hours of inactivity. The additional weakness and stiffness needs to be minimized rather than creating an additional liability. Increased circulation helps promote healing. Coaching by a physical therapist is critical to planning the recovery and doing no further harm. A good plan and continued mentoring by the physical therapist will ensure a speedy recovery.

Convalescence from a significant injury is often frustrating and down a path that has its ups and downs. During the recovery phase it is key to remain within certain boundaries to avoid over-training. Nonetheless, several variables have to be monitored by a physical therapist and your health care provider to stay on course. Recapturing strength, endurance and range of motion are the goals for recovery. Although some common patterns emerge for certain injuries, we are all individuals who bring different considerations to the challenge.

We often think of these as baby steps to recovery. When the pain of the acute phase subsides typically there is weakness that remains. Getting back to a functional level of activity can take more time than you wish. Listening to your body is important. Also using the expertise of the physical therapist and maintaining an open dialogue with the therapist will get you to your goals as soon as possible. It does take time to regain your normal level of endurance. Along the way, learning the best body mechanics for your activities, getting and maintaining a level of strength suitable for the job are critical to getting better and staying that way. Physical therapy is the medicine that cures.

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