What is a physical therapist?

Trusting the body’s ability to heal itself and get stronger: This is the basis of physical therapy. Physical therapists use exercises and hands-on care to reduce physical pain and limitations. Their motto? “Physical therapy brings motion to life.” Their goal is to help people stay active. And mobile! In some situations, physical therapy can be an alternative to surgery or drugs.

Many benefits
A referral to a physical therapist is likely for situations such as the following:

  • Stabilization after a fall. Special exercises increase strength, flexibility, and balance. These exercises reduce the chance of a repeat fall. Or fracture. A physical therapist can also identify trip hazards in the home.
  • Parkinson’s and other nerve conditions. Therapy can help your loved one retain the ability to move safely.
  • Rehabilitation after a surgery. Think of knees, hips, shoulders, and feet. Exercises can speed recovery.
  • Diabetes management. Exercises are prescribed to keep the blood moving! This can help lower blood glucose levels. It can also lead to faster healing of skin wounds.
  • Chronic pain. Hands-on care and exercises are used to decrease pain. With therapy, many patients can avoid opioids.

A collaborative approach

With physical therapy, your relative is a member of the healing team. Therapists tailor care plans to meet patient interests and special needs. Their goal is to empower patients. Ultimately, the benefits depend on your loved one’s ability to follow through. You may want to brainstorm with your relative about strategies. Some like charting and watching progress. Others give themselves a healthy reward after each session, such as watching the next episode of a favorite series.

Covered by Medicare

Medicare, Medi-gap, and most other insurances typically cover physical therapy prescribed by a doctor. Therapy can take place in an office or clinic or, under special circumstances, in the home.