Benefits Of Physical, Occupational Therapy

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by Payson Regional Medical Center, Special to the Roundup

The beginnings of physical therapy can be traced back to 450 B.C. when Hippocrates used water therapy and massage to treat his patients for stress relief and healing. Little advancement occurred for centuries until the late 1800s when British nurses formulated the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and began instructing others in techniques found to be beneficial to their patients.

Advances in medical techniques resulted in the return of soldiers with varied disabilities returning from World War I. The first American school for physical therapy was established in 1914 and both WWI casualties and the outbreak of poliomyelitis challenged newly trained therapists in the 1920s. Advancement in therapeutic treatments occurred out of necessity. Over several decades, research and advances in surgical techniques and medicine combined to further advance knowledge and expertise in the field of physical rehabilitation.

Until World War II, physical therapy was only offered in hospitals to assist patients recovering from illness, surgery or other debilities. As hospital stays decreased from weeks to days, a need for outpatient therapy clinics developed for patients that no longer required hospitalization. Out of these shorter stays, outpatient physical therapy began to grow and it became a covered service under basic medical coverage in the 1960s.

In the succeeding decades, the profession of physical therapy has become more diverse giving therapists the opportunity to specialize in various settings such as acute care, orthopedics, pediatrics, neurological rehab, cardiac rehab, sports rehab, geriatrics, and wound care

Common diagnosis treated in the PRMC PT clinic are spinal pain, neck or back, arthritis, orthopedic conditions such as fractures or joint replacement, including pre-surgical strengthening, common sprains or muscle strains, shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand problems, knee, ankle and foot problems and sports-related injuries, neurological diagnosis, post CVA, Parkinson’s, MS, balance problems, dizziness, chronic fatigue and weakness, wound care and work-related injuries. Treatments may include modalities to reduce pain and inflammation and improve circulation. Your therapist may recommend manual therapy to increase joint mobility, reduce pain, loosen and stretch tight muscles or ligaments for spinal mobility. The therapist will also develop and instruct you in an exercise program you will perform at home between therapy sessions to improve strength, motion, conditioning and balance.

Occupational therapy began as a profession in the United States in 1917 with the creation of the founding society, which is now called the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA). The first occupational therapists used everyday, purposeful activity to improve the health and functioning of a person. Over the years, the profession has evolved. Today, a registered occupational therapist must earn a master’s degree or higher from an accredited occupational therapy program. Coursework includes study of physical, biological and behavioral sciences as well as the application of occupational therapy theory and skills. The student must also complete at least six months of supervised fieldwork. Upon completion of the program, the graduate must pass a national examination. A licensed occupational therapist must also complete at least 23 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their license in the state of Arizona.

According to the AOTA (www.AOTA.org) occupational therapists help people participate in things they want to and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. OTs take a holistic and customized approach to evaluate, provide treatment, and work toward outcomes to help people recovering from injuries to regain skills, help children with disabilities, and aid an older adult to stay as independent as possible.

Angela Prock, M.S., OT/L, Neuro-IFRAH practices occupational therapy at Payson Regional outpatient rehab. In our rehab department, the OT specializes in working with people with injuries or disabilities related to orthopedic and neurological problems, including stroke. She is certified in the neuro-dynamic therapy and the neuro-integrative functional rehabilitation and habilitation (neuro-IFRAH) approach to neurological rehabilitation. The OT also provides treatment for orthopedic upper extremity impairments including post-operative rehabilitation and general impairments of the upper extremity (shoulder, arm, hand). The OT most often receives referrals for treatment of arm or hand fractures, rotator cuff injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, hemi paresis and daily living limitations after a stroke, work-related injuries, trigger finger, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, and more. She incorporates therapeutic use of everyday activities as well as exercises and modalities for pain control into her treatment. She often recommends modifications for the home and work environment to help a person be more independent while recovering from injury or living with a disability. The occupational therapist at PRMC outpatient rehab has also been trained in using Kinesio Tape, a therapeutic tape designed to mimic qualities of skin. This tape can be used in addition to therapy to control edema or swelling, decrease pain, decrease muscle spasming, support weakened muscles, and to provide joint support.

If you think you may be a candidate for physical or occupational therapy, discuss your concerns with your physician. If they agree, they will write a referral including any special restrictions or recommendations they recommend. You can call and schedule an appointment for an evaluation which will include a detailed history, assessment of mobility, functional movements, range of motion, balance, strength and performance of daily activities. Provocative testing may be performed to confirm or rule out suspected pathology. This information is considered to formulate a plan of care, which is sent to your physician for his or her approval.

Our services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurances. Our therapists have accumulated over 125 years of patient care. We specialize in one-on-one treatment to maximize your potential to meet your goals.

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