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October is National Physical Therapy Month

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Each year Physical Therapists around the country celebrate our profession in the month of October.  This year’s focus is sports injury prevention across your life span.  Physical Therapists are uniquely qualified to help improve and restore motion and improve the quality of life.  We are highly trained professionals who are able to help keep our patients or young athletes fit, healthy, and active allowing them to avoid surgery or long term medical prescription use.

Many Americans are not familiar with the fact that most Physical Therapists specialize as they take continuing education classes after graduation.  Some therapists work only with athletes: high school students or young adults.  Some young athletes in high school are eager to play sports year round and stay active.  Despite the benefits of physical activity such as weight management, cardio vascular endurance, improved muscle function, and increased self esteem, the potential for injury exists.   Puberty may be a risky time for them, especially fast growth spurts.  Their bones are growing while their muscles and tendons are trying to adjust.

Young men and women may push themselves to be stronger or faster while their bodies are growing quickly, leaving them at risk for injury.   Repetitive functions in sports like pitching may be problematic.  Perhaps the athlete is too thin, not strong enough to support the repetitive nature of the sport.  Additionally, I have noticed our high school sports becoming more aggressive.  We need to support these young men and women so they don’t end up with injuries that bother them well into their 40s and 50s.

Physical Therapists may work with patients of middle age and encourage them to do simple home programs such as walking or biking 30 minutes 3x/wk for good cardio vascular health.  I tend to give my patients 3 simple exercises as I find many of my patients who are not athletes by nature will become overwhelmed and do nothing if I give them too much.  I often give them a flexibility exercise for their lumbar spine, an abdominal exercise and an easy strengthening exercise for their back muscles.

Physical Therapists may also work with the elderly geriatric population.  Often these patients are interested in more functional tasks like being able to live independently at home.  This will require that they are able to dress and bathe themselves, move about their living space independently, and perhaps cook a simple meal.  Physical Therapists might be called upon to make recommendations for home modifications that would allow elderly patients to remain in their homes as they age like grab bars in the shower, raised toilet seats, or wheel chair ramps.

Please visit www.MoveForwardPT.com to learn about the PT’s role in sports injury prevention and browse to ask questions of a PT or to find a PT.

Mary Boyd, MS, PT is the owner of Mountain View Physical Therapy and can be reached at 290-5575 for questions. 

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