Since its inception in the 19th century, physical therapy has revolutionized the way we treat pain. Now in October, National Physical Therapy Month, we celebrate the history of this great field, as well as its amazing benefits.
A Brief History
Although people still recognized exercise as essential for a healthy lifestyle in ancient times, modern physical therapy began in 19th century Europe with the proliferation of manual muscle and massage therapy. In the early 20th century, physical therapy strengthened the muscles of polio patients.
During World War I, physical therapists, also known as “reconstruction aides,” rehabilitated soldiers with head trauma, amputated limbs, and spinal cord injuries.
Today, physical therapists work in such places as hospitals, nursing homes, and in private practices working with all kinds of people, young and old. To recognize National Physical Therapy Month, we will explore a few ways physical therapy changes lives.
1 – Healing Back Pain
According to the Health Policy Institute, nearly 65 million Americans have experienced recent back pain. For many of these folks, everyday activities like climbing stairs, getting up from a chair, or even walking can be extremely difficult.
To treat back pain, physical therapists may use a variety of traditional and non-traditional hands-on (manual) therapies, exercise, and a lot of education on how to move throughout their day. I call this mindful movement.
When utilizing physical therapy for back pain, a patient’s life can transform. Don, for example, retired in his 60’s because of severe back pain. After six months of physical therapy at The Manual Touch, he was able to cut the amount of pain medication he was taking in half. He can even walk for half an hour straight and cook most meals on his own. Most importantly, physical therapy gave Don his strength back so he can take care of his wife who has significant health issues.
2 – Healing Shoulder Pain
When Betty came to my office, we had major problems to address. At 81 years old, her doctor wanted to keep her away from the operating table, but her torn rotator cuff continued to be an obstacle. Her shoulder hurt doing just about anything—sleeping, opening doors, and putting on her seatbelt.
Thankfully, one of the ways physical therapy can change lives is it can can little-by-little build up strength until a patient feels free in their bodies again. After eight weeks of therapy, Betty saw the improvements. She is now pain-free and able to enjoy her life again. Even a year after physical therapy for shoulder pain, she is still doing great.
3 – Overcoming Speaking Difficulties
Physical therapy even has the power to bring back someone’s voice. Kaitlin’s demanding job required her to speak often at company meetings. A former collegiate athlete, Kaitlin now returned home from work greatly fatigued just from talking. She could no longer work full time.
Upon evaluation, I determined Kaitlin had a very weak core limiting her ability to maintain efficient posture when sitting or standing making it difficult for her to breathe or speak. But after only a few months of therapy focusing on her core and posture as well as manual therapy to alleviate restricted tissues, Kaitlin returned to work full time. She now understands her vocal limitations and exercises without difficulty.
Healing back pain, shoulder pain, and overcoming speaking difficulties are just a few of the many ways physical therapy changes lives. Physical therapists are movement experts; they understand how the body is supposed to move and function for optimal health. They can help patients experiencing any kind of physical pain, using a combination of manual touch and exercises to manipulate tissue and improve mobility, balance, strength, coordination, body awareness, and mindful movement.
Above all, physical therapists are wonderful educators, teaching patients to manage or rid themselves of pain and take care of their bodies daily to prevent injury and get back to doing the activities they love.
Help us celebrate National Physical Therapy Month by connecting with us on FaceBook or following the hashtag #ChoosePT.