How to Prevent Injury for Physical Therapists

trIt goes without saying treating patients is a physical job. Not only is extensive knowledge required, but physical strength and stamina are a large part of being successful when working in physical therapy. That being said, treating patients can take a toll on a therapist’s body, putting them at risk for the very issues patients come to be treated for. What’s wonderful about physical therapy are the array of modalities available that are time-efficient and powerful, helping keep physical therapists feeling their best in order to deliver the top quality patient care throughout their career.

Preventative measures are important in insuring longevity within a physical therapist’s career. Here’s a list of some of the most common complaints physical therapists can experience and some simple reminders to help take care of these issues before they become chronic problems.

Top 5 Physical Therapists Physical Complaints

  1. Low Back Pain: Physical therapists spend a lot of time on their feet, leaning over a treatment table and mobilizations patient’s body which can lead to low back pain. In addition to using proper body mechanics remembering to apply heat or ice as needed can help reduce low back pain.
  2. Carpal Tunnel: Extensive manual therapy in addition to mobilizations can lead to overuse of the hands and wrists. Some of my favorite modalities for hand and wrist pain are paraffin wax, ultrasound, in addition to cold compression therapy.
  3. Neck pain: Again, leaning over clients leads to a forward head posture which can create neck pain. Making sure to stretch as well performing chin tucks throughout the day will help maintain a neutral posture. When neck pain occurs, using ice in addition to a traction table can help alleviate pain.
  4. Foot Pain: All that time on the feet means it makes sense there would be some pain at the end of the day. Wearing supportive shoes, taking breaks and doing a quick treatment in a heated whirlpool will help decrease the pain and pressure experienced in the feet.
  5. Hip pain: Another common complaint, hip pain is most likely caused by a number of factors. Luckily, a lot can be alleviated by stretching, using Combination Therapy and kinesio taping to increase the stability of the hip joint.

All of these problems are pretty common complaints among therapists in the clinic. Luckily, treatment using the available modalities, in addition to quality foot-care, therapeutic exercise and stretching can be efficient in resolving these issues and perhaps most importantly be done solo. Meaning, therapists don’t have to wait for the time to get on another therapists schedule to treat any issues they experience throughout the workday.

There is a belief that people in the health field, don’t take care of themselves because they are so busy taking care of other people. While this sounds very noble, that practice won’t help a practitioner sustain themselves or their career. Prevention and dealing with issues as they occur go a long way towards keeping a long, thriving career helping others and maintaining vibrant health.

Three Reasons Why Orthopedic Rehab Is Helpful

rIf you have ever had a surgery or serious injury, you know that it can be physically exhausting to recover properly. Most surgeries or major traumas require specific exercises and protocols. Orthopedic rehab is designed to deal specifically with injuries involving the musculoskeletal system. Issues in this field often include sports accidents, such as torn tendons and broken bones, tumors, and even infections. Following a recovery protocol specific to your injury and operation can help you to recover faster and more fully. Here are three reasons why.

Regain Function

After a serious injury or medical condition, our bodies often attempt to compensate for the trauma. For example, when a person limps, it is an attempt to take pressure off of a damaged body part. As a result of this natural compensation, the muscles and tendons surrounding the injured area can often weaken or atrophy from lack of use. This is further exacerbated following an operation. Orthopedic rehab helps the patient focus on strengthening the repaired body part and the area surrounding it. Without a directed recovery, most patients will continue to favor the injury, resulting in a lifelong limp, hitch, crook, or other physical abnormality.

Prevent Injury

As discussed above, the human body will tend to protect a damaged area by shifting the workload to other limbs, tendons, or muscles. Even after the area has been surgically repaired, the human body will continue trying to shield it. If the body does not re-learn that the damaged body part is okay, the overuse of other areas could result in further accidents. This example is often seen in athletes with an injured leg or foot; in an attempt to protect the weakened area, the athlete puts more force into their cuts, pivots, or jumps with their good leg. This can result in damage to the strong leg or foot if too much strain is placed on it. Conversely, if the surgically repaired area is never re-strengthened, it is more apt to suffer the same failure as before through normal use. Orthopedic rehab can help patients regain the strength lost through trauma and an operation.

Avoid Surgery

In some cases, orthopedic rehab can help patients suffering from physical trauma avoid an operation altogether. This can be achieved through directed exercises or by altering how a person performs physical tasks. In the case of a weak back, a therapist might work with the patient on how to sit, stand, sleep, and bend over. The proper use of the back, coupled with specific exercises designed to strengthen the weakened area, can reduce the amount of pain a patient is feeling. In many cases, this approach can entirely solve any issues a patient is having, rendering surgery unnecessary.

In conclusion, orthopedic rehab can be helpful in resolving a number of physical ailments. Patients should wholeheartedly work with their physical therapists for a better recovery experience.