Physical therapists teach people recovering from surgery or with
injuries, sprains or arthritis how to perform exercises that will help
them gain strength and mobility and prevent recurring injury.
Suggestions to help you get the most from physical therapy.
Come prepared to work hard but not to feel pain. To gain
strength, you have to move a muscle to a point where it's fatigued, but
not to a point where it hurts.
Communicate with your therapist. Not telling your therapist if
something hurts or if you're unable to do a certain exercise at home,
can delay your progress and recovery. You also should have an idea of
how many sessions you'll need and how your progress will be measured. Asking for progress reports as time goes by can help
you stay focused.
Understand your treatment options. In some cases, your therapist
will have several possible treatment options, and you should understand
what they are, the pros and cons of each and the risks. For example,
your therapist may be able to work with you at a slow, easy pace until
you recover. But by taking a more aggressive pace, you may be able to
recover in half the time. You need to be aware of the risks, such as an
increase in pain that could slow or stop your recovery.
Ask why you do the exercises you do. Understanding what the
exercises should accomplish can help motivate you to stick with them. Someone who has been bedridden will be asked to do a simple exercise
like moving their foot up and down. Unless they are
told that doing this motion can help prevent blood clots, the person
might not have the motivation to do it.
Do the exercises you've been asked to do at home. If you meet
with your therapist only a few times a week, it's essential you do
exercises at home to make progress.
Know what to expect after a therapy session. Asking how you might
expect to feel one, two or 24 hours after a therapy session can ease
your mind. After the first few sessions, ask your therapist if
swelling, pain or stiffness is normal and what you should do if it
develops. In most cases, some soreness is expected,
and applying ice or heat can bring relief.