I consider myself a savvy health care consumer. I also like options and information when I’m facing a health issue.
In college, I tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in my knee and consulted an orthopedic surgeon. In addition to being my physician, he cared for my university’s football team and was a former college player himself. In spite of my swooning, I paid enough attention to what he said to learn something. If I didn’t repair the ACL, my adventure sport would be bowling. Also, if I didn’t do my physical therapy afterward, I’d be miserable.
His comments on physical therapy impressed me. I had the power to determine the outcome of my surgery and quality of life moving forward based on my commitment to physical therapy. With six weeks of college (and parent-funded health insurance) left, I dedicated myself to rehabilitation, got into shape and have been running ever since.Recently, I visited with a physical therapist in Banner Health’s Community Hospital in Torrington, Wyo. Kimberly Hansen, PT, agreed that physical therapy provides huge benefits for someone recovering from surgery.
Physical therapy benefitsHansen shared her list of the Top 5 physical therapy benefits:
- Help put pain in the rear-view mirror. A recent study in the Journal of Pain estimated that pain treatment is a $560-635 billion industry. Physical therapy can help eliminate pain by using proven treatments to help you recover.
- Manage age-related issues. Just as muscles get stronger when you exercise, bones can improve with work. Weight-training and resistance exercises strengthen bones and can fight diseases such as osteoporosis.
- Avoid or recover from surgery. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine said physical therapy to treat spinal stenosis, a disease that causes narrowing of your spine’s open spaces, is as effective as surgery. The study went on to recommend physical therapy as the first option for stenosis patients.
- Recover from a stroke. According to the National Stroke Association, each year, more than 790,000 people in the United States are affected by a stroke. Early physical therapy and continued physical therapy can improve function to help in recovery. This may lead to increased independence – being able to use the restroom alone, get out of bed on your own, dress yourself and walk unaided. Therapists also provide valuable information to the patient’s caregivers.
- Recover from or prevent sports injury. According to a 2012 Spine article, getting physical therapy within the first 14 days of a low-back injury can save the patient $2,700 on average. In addition, physical therapy can decrease your healing time and help you return to your life quickly.
Remember many insurances offer direct access to physical therapy without a physician’s referral for 30 days. Check with your insurance first, and consider whether you could benefit from physical therapy.