Why Physical Therapy is so much more than Physical Rehabilitation
When you first hear the words physical therapy, what do you think of? Many individuals may think that physical therapy is a place you go to do exercises when you get hurt. Some may even think PT stands for physical torture.
What if I told you physical therapy meant becoming part of a team? What if I told you that in physical therapy, unlike any other type of health care, you are empowered to control your own outcome? What if one of the most important parts of physical therapy isn’t physical at all?
The relationship developed between a physical therapist and the patient is often overlooked. When in fact, the therapeutic alliance can be a major factor in a patient’s success. It is the trust and the teamwork that enables our patients at Active Physical Therapy to be so successful.
One of my recent patients, Allanda, is a perfect example of this. Allanda came to Active PT with a partially torn calf muscle. Now for most people, a partially torn calf may mean taking a break from activities they enjoy, like hiking, running, or biking. For Allanda, this injury jeopardized her livelihood. She had been Irish dancing since she was a kid; it was her passion, her joy, but also her occupation as she is a dance teacher at the Richens/Timm Academy of Irish Dance. In addition, this was the first major injury she ever endured. Although I had worked with patients with similar injuries before, I had not previously worked with many dancers and certainly had very little experience with Irish dancing.
Allanda’s first few visits of therapy were challenging. Her limiting factors: pain and fear. Every time an exercise hurt, the fear of further injury or thoughts that the calf would not heal grew even greater. From a physical standpoint, I knew she would do great, but how could I pass that confidence to her? I knew I needed to push her, but I also knew I could not push her too far. We both needed to develop trust in each other.
The key to our success was our communication. I will admit, my choices of exercises were not always perfect. Some exercises were more effective than others. I had also not dealt with a major injury, especially with an injury like hers that had affected so many aspects of her life. Taking the time to listen to her thoughts and feelings was one of the most important facets of the PT. She would tell me when she needed space, or if she was hesitant. I respected her wishes, as long as she reassured me she was doing okay.
As our trust developed, Allanda’s recovery and confidence improved with every visit. Although we would still battle sometimes, she would always do what was asked, and did it with a smile. When it came to the point where she was ready to begin dancing again, this is where the teamwork aspect came into play. Admittedly, my knowledge of Irish dancing was limited. Although I could help with the biomechanics, I could not simulate what she needed to do without her help.
As a team, we went through progressions of various dance routines, with exercises to address specific dance steps she was having difficulty performing. Step-by-step, we progressively worked through harder dance moves. She even made me perform a few dance routines with her that made everybody in the room laugh. In the end, she was fully able to return to dance, and the smile on her face was priceless.
The Physical Therapy Journey
As you can see, physical therapy is not just physical torture or doing exercises. It’s a journey that you and your physical therapist create. The minute you choose to walk through the doors of Active Physical Therapy, you trust our Active PT family with your care, and that is a responsibility we take seriously.
Here at Active Physical Therapy, we believe that no two injuries should ever be treated the same. That’s because we treat each person as an individual. You are a person first, and that’s how we believe you should be treated. We take great pride in serving our community in the clinic, outside of the clinic, and will continue to strive to make our community a better place.
So what do you think of physical therapy now? We welcome you to start your own journey anytime! Visit activeptcolumbus.com or call 614-850-0500 for more information, or stop on in at 5551 Hilliard Rome Office Park, Hilliard, OH 43026.
Allanda is dance a teacher at the Richens/Timm Academy of Irish Dance. For more information, you can visit http://www.richenstimm.com.
Written by Dr. Kevin Do, read more about him here!