Physical Therapists are Trained to Treat a Wide Range of Illnesses and Injuries

When most people hear the words “physical therapy,” they immediately think of rehabilitation for someone with a sports injury. And while that’s accurate, physical therapists work with many types of patients, presenting with a wide variety of injuries, conditions and diseases. In fact, the profession of physical therapy can be divided into many distinct practice areas.


According to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS), there are nine areas in which physical therapists can receive advanced certification. A few of these specialty areas, which cover most of the injuries, diseases and age populations treated by physical therapists, include:


Cardiovascular and pulmonary: for cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions, such as heart attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis. The goal of this sub-specialty is to increase physical endurance and improve functional independence.


Neurology: for neurological conditions and impairments, including Alzheimer’s disease, brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury and stroke. Treatment plans are designed to help patients independently participate in activities of daily living for as long as possible. PTs teach patients to adapt to visual, balance, mobility and muscle loss impairments.


Orthopedics: for musculoskeletal injuries involving bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. A rehab program may include joint mobilization, manual therapy, strength training and other modalities.


Pediatrics: for infants, toddlers, children and adolescents with diseases and injuries ranging from developmental delays, genetic disorders and limb deficiencies to muscle diseases and orthopedic disabilities. PTs use therapeutic exercise, modalities and treatments to relieve pain, regain strength and range of motion, and to improve balance, flexibility and gross and fine motor skills.


Women’s health: for conditions including pelvic floor dysfunction, postpartum care, lymphatic swelling and urinary incontinence. A PT program might include external and internal soft tissue mobilization, strengthening exercises, biofeedback and electrical stimulation.

The other specialty areas recognized by ABPTS are geriatrics, oncology, sports and clinical electrophysiology. PTs can gain expertise in these areas without pursuing advanced certification, either by gaining years of experience with specific patient populations or by fulfilling continuing education requirements.


When looking for the right physical therapist to treat a particular ailment or disease, patients should feel comfortable asking about the therapist’s training, education and background. Understanding what expertise physical therapists have helps understand the rehab approach and how it impacts an injury or illness. Patients who start a dialogue and keep an open line of communication with their physical therapists will get the most out of their rehabilitation sessions.


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Pain vs. Soreness? Which is it?

There are many benefits to exercise, including the potential for improved physical and mental wellbeing. However, there may also be some physical discomfort associated with these activities due to the stresses placed on the body.


When experiencing discomfort, it is important to understand the difference between exercise-related muscular soreness and pain. Muscular soreness is a healthy and expected result of exercise. Pain is an unhealthy and abnormal response. Experiencing pain may be indicative of injury.

In order to make physical improvements, your body needs to be pushed to an appropriate level where gains can occur.


Each person’s body has a different activity threshold dependent upon many factors, including age, baseline strength, and participation level. Remaining on the safe side of your threshold will result in muscular soreness. Exceeding your threshold will result in pain.


One of the expected outcomes of exercise, when done appropriately, is that this threshold will progressively increase. For example, when an individual begins running, their safe threshold may be 5 minutes of running. After several weeks of progressive increases in duration, this runner’s threshold may increase to 20-30 minutes.


To maximize your exercise gains and minimize injury risk, it is important to be realistic about your activity threshold and to be able to differentiate between moderate muscle soreness and pain.


Click here to see a chart of pain vs. soreness symptoms.

Article from APTA


Ready, Set, Run! Combat Depression with Regular Exercise

Imagine going to the doctor with symptoms of depression and she hands you a new prescription: Do two sets of squats, 15 bicep curls, 10 laps around the track and call me in the morning. Though this is not (yet) an accurate picture, experts are starting to  recognize that regular exercise is not only good for your mood but may help combat depression, too.


Until physicians and other healthcare providers universally prescribe exercise as an alternative treatment for depression, it’s best to turn to a group of professionals who are already in the know: physical therapists. PTs are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health illnesses like depression and understand how the disorder can interfere with a person’s ability to enjoy life.


At Rehab Dynamics we can design an individualized care plan starts with a thorough assessment and detailed patient history so we can capture the limitations of the illness. We will also help to outline your specific goals. Each custom treatment plan includes some combination of flexibility, strength, coordination and balance exercises designed to achieve optimal physical function and to help shed the layers of depression.


For patients suffering from depression, it can be stressful and overwhelming to think about incorporating exercise into their lives either for the first time or after a long hiatus. Because the illness’ symptoms often include fatigue and loss of interest in activities, it can be difficult for patients to take that first step, both literally and figuratively. But physical therapists excel in motivating patients to perform exercises both safely and effectively. In fact, another bonus of seeing a physical therapist to get started on a new exercise program, is that he or she is trained to identify other injuries or illnesses that require a special approach.


You don’t have to have depression to reap the benefits of exercise. In fact, the mood-boosting pastime can help anyone who might be temporarily sad or otherwise not themselves. Major life stressors—divorce, loss of a job, and death—are difficult for anyone and regular exercise is a great way to help people through a tough time.


With regular exercise, you’re guaranteed to see improvements in the following areas:
• Strength and flexibility
• Sleep
• Memory
• Self-confidence
• Energy
• Mood

Even minimal changes in any of these areas could change your outlook on the day and your ability to participate in activities you once enjoyed. So, what are you waiting for? Give us a call to get started today (985) 871-7878.