Most people think physical therapy is primarily prescribed to help someone recover after an accident or injury. For example, someone who slips on the ice and breaks their hip is going to require a lot of physical therapy to help them heal and be able to walk again. An athlete who has torn their rotator cuff will need physical therapy after surgery to restore their range of motion. But physical therapy can help treat diseases as well. Here is a look at three conditions where a physician may prescribe physical therapy as part of an overall treatment plan.
Someone who has suffered a stroke usually has a lot of occupational therapy ahead of them. An occupational therapist helps patients learn to perform the activities of daily living. Skills such as toileting, dental hygiene, eating, bathing, and dressing and undressing are practiced. These actions often require special adaptations and learning new ways of doing things. But a stroke patient also usually needs to rebuild their muscle strength. A stroke often affects only one side of the body. Not only does the side that was affected by the stroke need to be strengthened and protected from atrophy, but the other side needs to be protected from overuse, overcompensating, and moving improperly, all of which can lead to further damage, injuries, and falls.
Battling cancer can cause a tremendous amount of fatigue. The disease itself may sap energy as the body is expending all it has to fight the invading cancer cells. It is emotionally draining, and even with the best of attitudes, it can be overwhelming and exhausting to keep trying to hope for the best and deal with the anxiety and fear and all the feelings that are normal in this situation.
Treatment regimens can also cause debilitating fatigue. Chemotherapy and radiation really take a lot out of a person. Nausea, vomiting, and poor appetite deplete energy stores even more. This can all add up to spending a lot of time in bed resting and trying to recuperate. Simple activities, like taking a shower, can feel like running a marathon. A physical therapist can help the cancer fighter better battle their fatigue. Physical activity and exercise may require energy expenditure, but this energy is returned. A physical therapist will help you slowly break the sedentary cycle and begin living an active life, so you don't need to take cancer laying down.
Some people have headaches so frequent and so severe that they can barely function. Every aspect of their life, from work to family life, is adversely affected by their headaches. When neurological reasons are found for these headaches, physical therapy may be the answer. Common causes of headaches include poor posture, muscle tension, and jaw or neck issues. A physical therapist can help you learn how to adjust how you carry yourself and strengthen your muscles.