Recovering from an orthopedic injury is a long process. Physical therapy is usually prescribed when you have begun to show progress in weight bearing or mobility. In order to heal fully and get back to your pre-injury condition, you will need to follow through on the healing process and follow the directions of your doctor and therapist. Physical therapy will aid your recovery; however, you need to follow a few guidelines to get the most out of it.
Keep your appointments – Physical therapy, like other types of medical treatments, won’t work if you don’t keep your appointments. While life does happen and the number of appointments in a physical therapy cycle can be overwhelming, it is essential for you to keep your appointments or schedule them in such a way that you are able to make them. Like exercise, physical therapy is a process and you won’t see results immediately. Also, in order to recover from an injury and strengthen the injury site, you need to build it up gradually which has to happen over a period of time. If you only work the injury site sporadically, you will not be building it up appropriately and you may re-injure the site or extend your recovery time significantly.
Do your homework – You will be given exercises to do at home between sessions. You need to do your homework! It is essential that you complete the exercises just as they have been prescribed in order to keep your muscles and joints working and strengthening. Treat your homework just as you would any other medical treatment, such as medicine or wearing immobilization devices. However, you need to be sure you don’t overdo it. Working the injured area harder than recommended won’t make it stronger; you have a very real risk of re-injuring it.
Be realistic about your pain level – Yes, you are injured and yes, it hurts, but you need to be honest about the level of pain you are in. Physical therapy will be uncomfortable as you are working areas that are healing. You need to give your therapist a good idea of your pain level, neither underestimating it nor overestimating it. If downplay your pain and don’t pay attention when your body tells you to stop, you will cause yourself a lot of pain and extend your recovery period. However, babying an injury isn’t good either as you need to get strength back to the injured area. Your therapist can only give you the right type of exercise if you are honest about your pain.
Reward yourself – When you reach a milestone, whatever that may be, you should reward yourself. Even if you just stop and get a milkshake or give yourself a half an hour of uninterrupted reading, you should reward yourself in order to keep up your motivation and to mark your progress. Physical therapy is a long process so you need to keep up your focus in order to work through the process to completion. Every time you reach a new place in therapy, such as after 20 appointments or an increase in weight you can lift, you should reward yourself.
Let time help you heal – Even though physical therapy will help you to heal, like all medical processes, it’s not going to happen overnight. While you can assist your body in healing, you can’t force the healing process to go faster than your body is ready to let it. Many times, orthopedic injuries require a significant amount of time to heal completely. Therefore, you need to give your body that time to heal, even if it seems excessively long for you. If you follow all the instructions from your doctor and your therapist, with time, you will heal.
Physical therapy is an essential part of the heal process from injury; however, for it to do its job, it is the responsibility of the patient to keep up with it and do as they are asked. With time and steady attention to slowly reconditioning the injury site, you will be back to your pre-injury condition soon.
Frank Roberts writes for Swope, Rodante P.A., a Tampa law firm specializing in cases involving traumatic brain injury, wrongful death, insurance bad faith, and catastrophic injury.