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PHYSICAL THERAPY MYTHS BUSTED

February 19, 2018

Today I'd like to talk about breaking the mold of pre-conceived notions. In relation to physical therapy and health care plenty of things are assumed. I thought I'd highlight just a few of them to break those myths and shed light on what role physical therapy can play for all of us. 

 

MYTH #1:

"Physical Therapy Is Massaging and Basic Exercise."

 

FACT #1:

Physical therapy can include myofascial release which is massage, but it isn't the only hands on thing we are doing.  Joint mobilizations are also utilized to improve joint motion from stiff to fluid. 

 

Exercise can be basic but it can also be very specific. I can tell you to raise your arm up and down several times but that does not make it a functional exercise. Physical therapist are movement experts. We utilize our skills to retrain our patients. Your current way of moving your arm up and down causes you pain, but when you effectively are activating your rotator cuff, your shoulder blade, and your trunk you can move in a pattern that does not cause pain or injury.

 

MYTH #2: 

"Physical Therapy Is Only For Pain"

 

FACT #2: 

Although pain is a leading cause for many to seek out physical therapy it is not the only thing we treat. Balance, weakness, and coordination are all apart of the science of movement. The young athlete that seems "clumsy" at times or the older adult that has complaints of feeling like they're dragging their feet and suddenly falling or tripping on things. Therefore, in relation to FACT #1, physical therapist work on improving balance and coordination skills that can occur at any point in a lifetime. How to move, and move better is what physical therapists specialize in.

 

MYTH #3:

"I Have To See My Doctor (Physician) Before I See A Physical Therapist."

 

FACT #3: 

All 50 states have passed laws allowing the Direct Access of patients to physical therapist without a referral. Every state has a different law on the matter, and all insurance companies have different policy on the matter. But, in NYC we see more Direct Access patients than any other type of referral. Patients now have the right to skip the charges of a visit to the primary care physician and go straight to a physical therapist. Often surgeons prescribe physical therapy first prior to injections or operation anyway. Learn more here in the Direct Access section of our web page. 

 

Physical therapy as a whole advanced education from continuing education requirements, years of on the job training, and the current standard of education level to become a physical therapist in the United States. Since the early 1990's there have been Doctor's of Physical Therapy (DPT) and as of today today there are no graduate schools that offer anything less than the clinical doctoral level of education.  There are also a significant level of programs offering fellowships and residencies to further education beyond the DPT program.  The United Kingdom, Australia, and Taiwan has also advanced their programs the DPT level. 

 

MYTH #4:

"Physical Therapy Cannot Treat Scoliosis."

 

FACT #4:

For over 90 years the Katharina Schroth Clinic in Germany has treated scoliosis with physical therapy. Now there are two major schools for Schroth Scoliosis physical therapy. The Barcelona Scoliosis Physical Therapy School has taken the education of the Germany school and advanced it in their own way. Now in the United States we have a growing number of therapists helping patients reduce and or stop the progression of their scoliosis with or without the assistance of a brace.

For more information on Schroth for scoliosis visit our services section and watch the video on Schroth Scoliosis treatment. 

 

For more information on physical therapy check out the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and here's some more myths in a nice inforgraphic from the folks at Move Forward PT:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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