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Active Therapy

When people come to physical therapy for the first time, they’re often surprised to learn that they will be exercising throughout their treatment (and hopefully beyond). Nearly all of the healthcare we experience in our lives requires little more of us than to simply show up and receive treatment; it’s a passive experience. But unlike a trip to the dentist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, masseuse, or various types of doctors, physical therapy is an active experience. I sometimes think it should be renamed active therapy.

Why is physical therapy so different? At its core, physical therapy is based upon the fact that the human body was built to move. Physical therapists aid patients in regaining or improving their physical abilities, whether that be helping a football player rehabilitate after knee surgery or teaching an elderly stroke patient to negotiate daily activities like dressing and bathing. Much of physical therapy involves the retraining of muscles, tendons, and nerves to build up strength, endurance, and coordination. And how is this done? Through exercise, of course!

Before you start to think that your physical therapy appointment will resemble a Biggest Loser-type workout session (trust me, our therapists never scream at anybody to get them to do a pushup), rest assured that all exercises are carefully chosen based on the age/ability level/injury status of the patient. Our goal is not necessarily to get you huffing and puffing; we simply want to challenge your body, little by little, in the ways you specifically need it.

Physical therapy is interactive as well. During your treatments, your feedback is crucial for your physical therapist. Are your pain levels better? Is your range of motion improved? Are you sleeping without pain interruptions? This information lets us know whether we need to increase or decrease the intensity of your challenges, whether we should add additional exercises, and most important, whether you might be ready to graduate from physical therapy. Ultimately, our goal is help you get well so you don’t need to see us again.

Physical therapy is an important ingredient in keeping your physical abilities at their best throughout your lifetime, but don’t expect a passive experience. Come to physical therapy prepared to be active, and you’ll soon see the results. Keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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