The pandemic has put health and healthcare providers in sharp focus. EMTs, doctors, nurses, and aides have all worked tirelessly to save lives, treat symptoms, and help control the spread of COVID-19. But what happens when people survive the disease, get off the ventilator and can no longer walk without gasping for air, are too weak to climb steps, or even have trouble sitting upright? That’s where physical therapists come in.
The American Physical Therapy Association defines PTs as “health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.” PTs are the people who help you do things. For patients recovering from something like COVID-19, that could mean walking across a room, climbing steps, or getting in and out of a chair. For an injured athlete it could mean getting back to competition. For someone with arthritis or back pain, it could mean going for a walk or getting through a day of work without pain. Physical therapists are unique in that they are trained to treat pain without surgery or medication. That means that the pain relief they offer is less costly and safer than most methods.
Physical therapists also work to keep people healthy. The APTA goes on to say that “PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.” That means that a physical therapist can help you determine your risk for injury, choose the right fitness program, and improve the quality of your life by improving your health and ability to move.
The ability to move well is a big deal. The risk of many of the leading causes of death can be reduced by exercise. Some of these conditions would include heart disease, cancer, lung disease, diabetes, and stroke. By helping you move better with less pain, finding the right exercise program, and helping you to make healthy lifestyle choices, a PT could help you live longer. Regular activity has also been shown to reduce stress, reduce depression, help with weight loss, reduce pain, improve sleep, and improve memory and cognitive function.
The unique expertise and skill set of physical therapists is meant to help people move better and more often. The benefits of this to your health and quality of life are hard to understate. If a physical therapist isn’t a part of your current healthcare team, consider adding one. They might be just the person you need.
About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association
Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org.