Mechanical Or Human Physical Therapy: Which Is Better?

Physical therapy helps sufferers of a variety of ailments to maintain or improve functionality of the body. Physical therapists work to prevent, treat, and rehabilitate patients with physical problems and reduced mobility. There are a large number of physical therapy treatments out there, and the right one for you depends on your specific condition. Physical therapists treat patients for anything from headaches and back pain to spina bifida and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease– as well as helping many other patients to recover as much mobility as possible after an accident or other event.

There’s been a lot of talk lately in the health care community about physical therapy robots. Because of this, you may be wondering which is better, robotic (mechanical) physical therapy or physical therapy done by human therapists. The answer is neither. A human therapist is always necessary when embarking on a long term physical therapy program, no matter your condition. However, studies done with hundred of stroke victims show that robotic therapy definitely has a place in the future of physical therapy– a very important place.

Robotic Therapy

Robotic Physical therapy is a brand new field. Discoveries and inventions have been made in places like MIT that have had some very promising results on stroke victims.

Victims of a stroke are generally weeks, months, even years in physical therapy. Even though many attempts are made to return mobility to them, most stroke victims make no real visible improvements in mobility. Robotic therapists, however, are changing that. The advantage robotic therapy has over human therapy is constancy. It’s very difficult for a human therapist to take the time necessary to make true strides in improving a patient’s mobility. Robots, however, never tire, slow, or change pace– of course, the repetitive motions needed in order to properly work the affected parts of body of the stroke victim don’t affect a machine. In addition, robotic therapists generally have bio-feedback mechanisms. These mechanisms help to increase improvement in the affected parts of the body.

Some robotic therapists are even designed to act as both coach and therapist, using jokes, humor, and encouragement to help patients get though the long and tiring process of physical therapy.

Human Therapy

While strides are being made in the field of robotic therapy, and robotic therapists will at some point be available to help with many conditions, human therapists are and will always be necessary. For most conditions, a human therapist is your only option. However, even if using robotic therapy, you must have a human therapist in order to diagnose your movement problems and develop a long-term strategy for treating them. It’s also necessary to visit human therapists to evaluate progress and make further plans for both human and robotic therapy.

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Physical Therapy Exercises

The procedures of physical therapy are diverse. Physical therapy combines a variety of methods and techniques. Yet all in all, the process would include lifestyle change, external stimulation, use of assisting devices, and of course the therapeutic exercise.

Appointing yourself with physical therapy exercises gets you in the hub of physical wellness. Whether to decrease pain or increase movement and function, various physical therapy exercises tender different types of body training that will improve any patient’s physical condition.

As the heart of any physical therapy program, whether clinical or home care, physical therapy exercises shall keep you moving. Plus points with the physical therapy exercises has been earning scores since studies realized that keeping an overworked or injured muscle immobilized to ‘rest’ is a bad idea. In contrast, continuous physical therapy exercises shall assure a patient’s vital recovery. In most cases, failure to use the muscles surrounding an injury or illness can lead to permanent weakness a big no-no for physical therapy.

Physical therapy exercises are intended to restore strength and endurance, increase range of movement, and also improve balance and coordination. And to increase these effectiveness, physical therapists also use the physical therapy exercises treatment along with external stimulations such as heat, coldness, ultrasound, electricity, infrared or UV light, traction, water, and massage. All are applied externally to a specific area, or internally, in order to relieve pain or reducing swelling.

Another factor to assure the success of the exercise methods is to do it right. As long as properly prescribed, physical therapy exercises are the most effective method for healing sports or accident injuries or restoring basic functions. Another key is to do enough exercises. Physical therapy exercises performed during office visits alone is inadequate. For quick recovery, physical therapists also teach patients how to exercise at home. Here are some examples of home physical therapy exercises:

Sitting Stretch:

Sit on the floor with a towel around one of your outstretched foot (or around the one bent knee). Pull the foot towards your body (or the knee upwards) to feel the stretch. Hold for some seconds. Do alternately, and repetitively and at particular number of times per day.

Standing Wall Push:

Position your body against/ facing a wall with one foot behind slightly lunging. Hold the heel down while gently pushing your hands towards the wall to feel the stretch. Hold for some seconds. Do alternately, and repetitively and at particular number of times per day.

Tightening Legs Over a Ball:

With one knee bent over a ball, straighten the knee by trying to tighten the muscle on your upper thigh. Be sure to keep the bottom of your knee on the ball. Hold for some seconds. Do alternately, and repetitively and at particular number of times per day.

You should note that the repetitions and frequency of the exercises are increased progressively according to the exercise plan or as directed by your PT. Good luck!

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Why Physical Therapy Is For You Benefits Of Physical Therapy

When one hears the words physical therapy, what most likely comes into mind are masseuses. Yet physical therapy delves much deeper than your typical run-of-the-mill masseuse. The benefits of physical therapy far outweigh those of regular massages from untrained masseuses. What physical therapy is is a science. It’s a far cry from the indiscriminate kneading and pounding of some masseuses. They only make you feel better for awhile, sort of like a placebo. One of the benefits of physical therapy compared to massages is that physical therapy cures you.

There are virtually hundreds of benefits of physical therapy, but the key benefits are to evaluate physical problems, increase and maintain muscle strength and endurance, restore and increase joint range of motion, increase coordination, decrease pain, decrease muscle spasm and plasticity, decrease swelling and inflammation of joints, promote healing of soft tissue lesions, prevent contracture and deformity of limbs, alleviate walking problems, educate patients and family, decrease stress and a whole lot more too numerous to mention. These are but a few of the benefits of physical therapy.

Regular massages from untrained individuals may prove beneficial in some ways, but in the long run and more bang for the buck, physical therapy very much eats the competition for lunch. The benefits of physical therapy depend greatly on the treatment methods that physical therapists utilize. Some examples are joint mobilization, soft tissue release, trigger point release, manual therapy, myofascial stretching, muscle re-education, modalities, therapeutic exercise, re-conditioning program, specific strengthening of weak muscles, and a home exercise program to name a few. These methods are not only far superior to indiscriminate kneading and pounding, but proof of the scientific nature of physical therapy. The benefits of physical therapy are not only for instant gratification in terms of comfort, but the benefits are a long term solution for afflictions, a lasting cure for those who need it.

I am reminded of a friend who had a sore back. Instead of seeing a physical therapist, he went to a masseuse for instant relief. He did get instant relief, but after a few days, his spine grew worse and now walks with a permanent limp and crooked back. He himself says that he should’ve gone to a physical therapist and regrets not having gone. This is a perfect, if tragic example to the benefits of physical therapy, and the pains and risks of leaving your health in the hands of untrained masseuses.

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