Sunday, June 16

New Physical Therapy Practices Show the Unmeasured Potential of Rehabilitation Therapy

Physical therapy is often associated with illness, injury, or surgery — patients tend to only think about the importance of physical therapy after something serious occurs. But new studies show that physical therapy has benefits beyond what we have seen before.

A local Newark news source recently profiled a physical therapist who helps young children — some younger than three years old — who need extra help with mobility and coordination skills. As therapist Tara Parsley explains, pediatric physical therapy can be a very different process from our “normal” conception of treatment because kids “don’t always see the medical side of it, that we’re doing this to make them better.”

Small exercises that we tend to take for granted — jumping on a trampoline, for instance, or rolling across a floor — can be exceedingly challenging for young children with mobility restrictions, and an inability to perform these kinds of exercises are likely to cause developmental issues later on in life (or, at the very least, make it more difficult to ameliorate problems).

“Rehabilitation can be an incredibly successful way to help young children develop properly,” says Karlette Baker of The Center For Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics. “Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises may seem odd to some at first, but the benefits that patients see are astounding.”

But physical therapy doesn’t just stop at humans — more therapists have begun incorporating rehabilitation exercises, similar to the exercises that people would do, as part of veterinary medicine programs. It’s often difficult to gauge how well animals are recuperating after surgeries, and out of fear of hurting the animals further, vets tended to put animals in crates or pens where they would be forced to rest (and, ideally, heal). The problems with sitting around and not moving for six weeks are remarkably similar to what happens with humans: joints stiffen, other muscles become weaker, and the body becomes less flexible and coordinated in general.

One thing is becoming clear in the industry of physical therapy: it doesn’t matter how old you are or what caused you to seek treatment; the benefits of physical therapy exercises have already been extensively studied, but the benefits we’re aware of are probably only the tip of the iceberg.

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