Not Just Physical Therapy - Open Your Eyes
"When you'll need someone, I will be by your side."
Spotify played this #FlashbackFriday song for me today and it got me thinking in tangents. As physical therapist we see people so often that we become apart of each other's life. Quite often the therapy goes beyond the physical injury.
When we are injured we have both physical and mental stress (work, family, politics, etc..)can compound our injuries. You come to physical therapy and sacrifice your already busy day to work with us and get better. There are times that the relief of your physical pain produces an emotional response. Tears and laughter are not uncommon at Alta PT. But, more often than not you'll hear laughter, probably the loudest laughter you'd ever expect in a physical therapy office. If you can laugh with us you're probably healing. You're feeling better because of not only the work we put in together but because we work hard at creating an environment that promotes good vibes.
Tears and laughter are too very strong emotions and I like to think our clients do this freely with us because at the base of it all they know that we'll do everything we can to be there for them, even if its just an ear to listen to about something else bothering them, something other than a complaint of a body pain.
There have been studies that link physical pain with mental stress. @DrBabbel talks about chronic pain and stress in this 2010 PhycologyToday.com article "The Connections Between Emotional Stress, Trauma and Physical Pain" Dr. Babble talked about the links between the two areas of emotion and physical pain. Either one can cause the other. A physical injury can be chronic and causes sleeplessness, and then a cascading issue of other problems from that. The other can be said for mental stress that produces shock, a mental traumatic episode. Dr. Babble brings up post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as an example of mental stress that produces physical pain, even in the actual absence of the mental stress. A simple association of mental or physical stress can produce pain in PTSD patients.
PTSD is not a term that we should just bucket classify as trauma from those who have been to war, been a victim of rape or robbery. PTSD can be found in the average person that just had bad luck, had an accident, require surgery or just a some time off their feet. This person, if already with a multitude of stress in their life, can begin to associate many other stresses that pile up with their accident or injury. Suddenly little things bring about severe levels stress reaction to avoid their pain . For example someone who falls down a sets of stairs can first start to avoid all stairs, then begin to have a fear of heights, then a fear of just taking a step off a curb because of re-visiting that pain, that event, that made their already crazy daily life worse. Now imagine if this person never talks to anyone about that feeling, about their stress. Without feeling free enough to talk about these fears the person cannot rationalize the thoughts, they begin to become irrational thoughts and hypersensitivities.
So this all comes back to communication, creating an area of trust, non-judgement, and trust. Here's a word of advice for anyone seeking physical therapy. If you are spending time out of your life to see a therapist for one, two, or five times a week, you'll probably get better quicker if you can also get along with the therapist. No amount of expertise matters if you don't feel comfortable enough to talk to your physical therapist about your kids, your significant other, the new movie you saw, or the funniest video from last week's SNL or Jimmy Fallon. And if you can't you may want to consider contacting a psychologist just to talk to anyone about the multitude of stress that seems to be multiplying just at the same time you need to have physical therapy.
Wow...those were some deep thoughts , almost like this one from SNL back in the day.
"There are times, when you'll need someone. I will be by your side."