From the Therapist’s Desk : Physical Therapy Modalities

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Having recently read the following article highlighting a new trend in the Physical Therapy world, I felt it prudent to give my professional opinion.

As a physical therapist, I think this article highlights some important points within the physical therapy profession. Most important is that patients will start feeling and functioning better when they have the necessary strength and mobility at a given joint or body segment. The best way to get that strength and mobility is to appropriately utilize manual therapy techniques (hands on therapy), therapeutic exercises, and education in proper muscle activation and technique to perform exercises correctly. The best therapists will design a treatment that is specific to the individual patient that is key to help them reach their goals and desired lifestyle. It is also the patients responsibility to follow through with the exercises and education they receive during their therapy sessions to achieve optimal performance.

Having said that there are still times when modalities (estim, moist heat, cold packs, ultrasound) can be a beneficial adjunct to therapy if used appropriately. An example would be for patients who are in acute pain (post-surgical, exacerbation, muscle spasms, aches, and soreness) who gain some relief from these passive interventions, which allows progression of therapy in future sessions. However, these are never performed during the 45-60 minutes I spend with a patient and certainly should not be the predominant component of your therapy sessions. If so I suggest you find a new physical therapist.

– Bradley Meyer, DPT

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