What is Physical Therapy

by Stephanie Granda, DPT, OCS

So your doctor referred you to see a physical therapist, and here you are searching the internet to see exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Most people have opinions before they ever come see us, so my goal today is to explain what we’re all about in physical therapy, and what to expect when you walk in our doors at CACC.

            The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to help people return to their daily activities with less pain and improved function. We utilize many different techniques in physical therapy to do this, and just a few of them are listed below:

  • Advanced strengthening exercises
  • Stretching
  • Manual techniques (massage, joint mobilizations, joint manipulations, dry needling)
  • Aerobic conditioning
  • Balance training
  • Sports or activity training

Depending on your reason for seeing us, your therapist will tailor a specific physical therapy program to your needs. Just as no two people are exactly alike, no two diagnoses are exactly alike either. That’s where our skills as physical therapists come in! We aim to see each person not simply as their diagnosis, but rather as the unique person that they are.

For example, we may have two people walk in our doors with the exact same diagnosis of a rotator cuff tear. The first person is a 17 year old baseball pitcher who needs to get back to his sport to help his team win. The other is a 65 year old new grandmother who needs to be able to lift her granddaughter. While both situations would require strengthening and stabilizing your shoulder, the techniques we use may be different in order to achieve different goals. Our main goal is to help you get back to doing what you love, whatever that may be!

To be truly successful in physical therapy, you and your therapists’ are a team, and must work together to reach your goals. While some passive techniques may be utilized in your time in therapy (i.e. massage, hot packs), the biggest gains come from putting in the work alongside your therapists by doing your exercises both in the clinic and at home. This is time and effort that you are investing in you!  Not only do we specialize in getting someone back to their normal function after an injury or illness, but we also work to maintain functional status in those patients who might be declining otherwise. For example, we may see a client who suffered a stroke years ago and has been through rehabilitation multiple times. Our goals with that patient would be to maximize their function with the day to day activities, and maintain the progress they have made over the years since their stroke. Physical therapists can also work in a preventative capacity, helping clients to improve their strength, flexibility, or balance before an issue arises.