Seven Myths about Physical Therapy Dispelled By your friends at Vita

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Myth #1: You need a referral or prescription to receive physical therapy

Reality: You are free to consult with and receive treatment from a licensed physical therapist in Wisconsin without a referral from a doctor. If you tweak your back, wrench your knee, or strain your shoulder, we can be your first stop for evaluation and treatment. This practice is typically referred to as Direct Access

Myth #2: Physical Therapy is a passive process

Reality: Pain-free, independent mobility and return to routine activities is our goal for physical therapy intervention. While physical therapy care often includes measures to reduce pain and restore movement, ultimately we need full participation by you, the patient, to maximize our effectiveness.  The active part of physical therapy begins with your commitment to a therapeutic partnership, and continues in the form of exercise during a visit and ultimately home activities that include exercises and specific therapeutic movements. Your active participation empowers you to control much of the recovery process, with our guidance.

Myth #3: Physical Therapy can be delivered by anyone who knows about exercise

Reality: Physical therapists have specific education and training that includes an undergraduate degree in biology, athletic training, movement science, kinesiology, psychology, or related fields that qualify them for graduate education.  Professional graduate programs in Physical Therapy education prepare students in anatomy, neuroscience, physiology, movement science, therapeutic exercise, manual therapy techniques, developmental disorders, pharmacology, human development, discharge and care planning.  All of these lead new graduates to a Doctoral Degree in Physical Therapy, after which graduates sit for a National Physical Therapy Board Exam. Ask your therapist about their education and training.

Myth #4: Static stretching is bad for your body

Reality:  According to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, a combination of static (think slow hold stretch) and dynamic (think leg kicks, arm swings, long strides) stretching is recommended for a comprehensive fitness program. For further information please refer to the following article by clicking here

Myth #5: Any exercise will do…

Reality:  Rarely is this true in the context of rehabilitation or fitness, with the exception of very general strength and endurance efforts. In a general sense, our bodies tend to take the path of least resistance, whereby areas of weakness become weaker over time, as do areas of tightness. Exercise is a powerful intervention, and therefore is best and most effectively applied with specificity for those with specific weakness, tightness, pain or disability.

Myth #6: I need an MRI to before I begin therapy…

Reality: It is common for patients and physicians alike to want to perform advanced imaging to screen for the presence of tissue damage or disease.  However, several recent studies have concluded that in the vast majority of cases obtaining an MRI prior to beginning therapy is unnecessary, and doing so frequently delays the beginning of appropriate therapy.  A more prudent use of advanced imaging occurs after 4 weeks of therapy if your therapist and physician feel that your condition is not making sufficient progress.

Myth #7: No pain, no gain

Reality: Our objective is always to maximize your progress while minimizing the discomfort involved.  Occasionally restoring mobility will be painful, but we are never cavalier about your pain.  If physical therapy is done correctly, you should feel better for the experience, understand your pain, and learn how to work around rather than through the discomfort.

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