Physical therapy is one of the most important health and wellness services yet far too few people have even the most base level understanding of what it’s all about. Because of this, many neglect to seek the service and instead spend their lives in and out of hospitals and pharmacies to “treat” physical pain and discomfort. This vicious cycle is born from misconceptions surrounding the disciplines of physical therapy. Today, we’re going to address them so that your household finds a better path towards a pain free existence with improved function, performance, and overall wellness.
Dispelling 5 Common Myths and Misconceptions About Physical Therapy
1. A Physical Therapy Practice Offers Just One Speciality
George and Charles Merriam define physical therapy as such:
“Therapy for the preservation, enhancement, or restoration of movement and physical function impaired or threatened by disease, injury, or disability that utilizes therapeutic exercise, physicalmodalities (such as massage and electrotherapy), assistive devices, and patient education and training.” (Merriam Webster)
Sounds about right. However, people often mistake a practice as being one that offers a singular discipline which is why you may overlook a clinic when seeking help for an ailment. But when you find out that it spans beyond back pain treatment and sports injury rehabilitation you will quickly change your mind about what you may find within the walls of a practice near you. Other common speciality areas in the field of physical therapy include the following:
- Cardiovascular and pulmonary physiotherapy
- Clinical electrophysiology
- Headache and migraine management
- Palliative care
- Vestibular Rehabilitation
- Women’s health
Beyond everything addressed above, physical therapy programs can be applied to individuals, households, and even corporations. A full service operation typically staffs a chiropractor, massage therapist, kinesiologist, and even a nutritionist. The more you peel back the layers, the more you find that a physical therapy clinic is a proverbial one-stop destination for your physical health needs.
2. You Need a Doctor Referral
An individual’s first experience with a physical therapist often comes after seeing a doctor for an injury and receiving a referral. Many assume that this is required however this is not a necessary chain of events. A physiotherapist is also a primary care practitioner which means you do not require a referral from a physician to make an appointment.
Another point to make here, is that the injury (resulting in physician visit and subsequent referral) could have been avoided in the first place if physical therapy was already included in one’s health and wellness plan. After all, prevention is the best medicine, which leads us to the next point.
3. You Only Need to See a Physical Therapist After an Injury
This is probably the most common myth. People don’t consider a physical therapist until they need one, or in other words, after an injury has occurred. Unfortunately this is a backwards way of thinking that in fact leads to injury and pain.
Most people take antioxidants, vitamins, and flu shots as a means to remain free from common viruses. They also schedule semi-annual checkups with their doctor and dentist to nip potential for progressive and/or underlying diseases and illnesses in the bud. All of this is done as a part of their preventative health care plan. And yet, with millions of Canadians suffering from physical pain and disfunction so few consider physical therapy as a part of the big picture. Physical therapy should not be thought of in a reactive way but as the missing link in their current prevention plan, one that when connected will be instrumental in their overall health and wellness. Learn more here.
4. You Can Find What You Need (Rehab) Online
In the same token that you should never self-diagnose an illness by going online (WebMD, etc.) you should avoid doing the same when it comes to physical pain and injury. The very nature of referred pain validates this warning. Not only does self-diagnosis more often than not lead to misdiagnosis, it leads to self-prescription of treatment and therapy performed in the gym and/or at home that can aggravate an injury instead of heal it. Resist the urge to go online to build out your rehabilitation regime. Instead, use Google search to find a physical therapist near you to ensure that you follow a plan that provides treatment and therapy appropriate to your injury.
5. When You’re Done, You’re Done
We must continue to stress the point that physical therapy is not a reactive discipline alone. Once your injury rehabilitation (where applicable) is complete, it isn’t, because you will be encouraged to maintain a regime of exercises, stretches, and movements that will serve you today and well into the future. Simply put, physical therapy is not a “one and done” form of treatment and therapy. When you see a reputable therapist, you will gain in depth knowledge about your own body, how it functions, and how you can make it work better for you, not only so that you heal and prevent future injury, but so that you can perform better in day to day tasks and more intense (sports, etc.) activities alike.
A physical therapist will engage you unlike any other health practitioner, and when you allow yourself to get engaged too, you will reap benefits that you never before deemed possible. The only way to truly understand is to take the next step. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and watch the myths and misconceptions fall to the wayside as your path to optimal health and wellness unfolds before you.