October is National Physical Therapy Month, an annual opportunity to celebrate Physical Therapists and bring awareness to the profession.
While most people know their Physical Therapist can help them with pain management, there are numerous other facets to physical therapy. In addition to pain relief, physical therapy can help improve mobility and overall functional ability, reduce the use of pain-relieving prescription drugs, help patients avoid surgery and it can also help patients live healthier, more physically-able lives. From posture, balance, fitness and injury prevention the positive implications of physical therapy are vast.
Samford Doctor of Physical Therapy graduates currently serve in a variety of capacities from hospitals, private practices or outpatient clinics to schools, professional sports teams or sport and fitness centers.
“A common misconception is that Physical Therapists only work with injured or ill patients,” said Andrea Bowens, assistant professor of physical therapy. “Rehabilitation and treatment for patients with illness or injury is a major component of physical therapy, but Physical Therapists can also play an important role in preventative care or movement enhancement.”
Physical Therapists can actually create fitness and wellness programs that encourage healthy, active lifestyles and improve movement specific to the patient’s needs.
“A basketball player may have a lack of mobility that is impacting their vertical jump and could lead to a future injury or a golfer could have a great swing that with a slight increase in mobility could be improved,” said Bowens.
Physical therapy can also reduce the use of opioid and other prescription drugs. In fact, the American Physical Therapy Association has chosen to spotlight how physical therapy can impact the opioid crisis as this year’s National Physical Therapy Month theme.
While the correlation between physical therapy and the opioid crisis may not immediately seem clear, pain medications are frequently prescribed to help alleviate pain caused by an injury or chronic illness. Through the utilization of hands-on physical therapy, Physical Therapists can play a role in reducing a patient’s need for opioids and other prescription drugs.
When it comes to alleviating pain, there are some instances where physical therapy can help a patient avoid surgery. “From a herniated disc to a meniscus tear, patients often think that surgery is the only option but current evidence indicates physical therapy can actually help manage pain and keep patients out of the operating room,” said Bowens.
Samford’s Department of Physical Therapy offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy as well as a Fast-track Doctor of Physical Therapy which provides eligible students with the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in exercise science and a Doctor of Physical Therapy in just six years.