We all think that life-threatening injuries and disastrous tragedies only happen to other people, until they don’t. Severe injuries can take away everything an athlete has worked towards for years in a matter of seconds. The recovery process can be long, painful, and frustrating. It’s a physical therapists job to help the athlete gain strength, mobility, and control their pain. The job of a Physical Therapist can be one of the most rewarding and time-consuming jobs because of all the detail-oriented and personal things that they have to deal with on a daily basis with their patients. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, their mission is to ‘Transform society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience” (AATP, 2016). Physical therapy can be something that bonds patients and doctors together within just a short healing period.
In today’s world, there are more than “204,000 physical therapists [that] are licensed in the United States” (APTA, 2015). Physical therapists, also called PTs, are “highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility – in many cases without expensive surgery and often reducing the need for long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects” (APTA, 2015). PT’s do not only have one job when helping treat a patient. Because every patient has different needs, the trainers must have wide-ranging knowledge on the human body to personally treat everyone. Physical therapists also teach patients how to manage their injury or condition to achieve long-term health benefits. Many who come to physical therapy are either far past the point of surgery or close to it. Having a PTs training will help the patient “develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability or further injury”(APTA, 2015). In addition, PTs work with “individuals to develop fitness and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles” (APTA, 2015). The median salary for a physical therapist is $85,000; these salaries vary based on position, years of experience, degree of education, geographic location, and practice setting. I wanted to research this project because I am interested in becoming a Physical therapist because it is something I can really relate with.
Every patient who comes in is in a completely different situation, needing personal and specific treatment for their injury. Because of this, PT’s provide care for people in a variety of settings depending on the level of care needed. Some of these include: hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports, fitness facilities, and nursing homes. An example of a naturally common thing that PT’s have to regularly treat is injured athletes. According to Podiatry today, “the reality is that injuries are an unavoidable byproduct of being an athlete and the transition from “active athlete” to “injured athlete” and back to “active athlete” does not always occur without complications” (Jamie Robbins, 2012.) Injuries break down athletes both physically and mentally. They can unmask mental health issues such as: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse. The emotional responses to these include, but aren’t limited to: “Sadness, Isolation, Irritation, Sleep disturbance, Disengagement and anger” according to research provided by the NCAA (Margot Putukian, 2017). Many athletes begin to lose motivation because it’s easy to become frustrated when you don’t see immediate results from physical therapy. This causes some athletes use it as their “way out” of a sport because they are either scared of getting re-injured or just don’t love to play anymore. It is a physical therapist’s job to pick them back up and help them regain their passion for their sport and body. Physical therapy is crucial to an athletes health and skill in the future. When undergoing treatment, some of the parts of the process of getting better through physical therapy can include: Surgery, Gaining range of motion back and strength training. Many athletes lose confidence in themselves and their ability to play again and a physical therapist is metaphorically there to help them pick up the pieces.
I have been regularly attending a private physical therapy practice. Close to about 3 months ago, I was in a life changing wreck, leaving my tibia and femur broken with a compound fracture. Once I was released from the hospital, physical therapy became my best friend. I had rarely any support or motivation to get better because I thought everything I had going for me was out of the picture. I have learned this is not true through physical therapy. It has helped my leg improve immensely and I have learned so much about my own body as well as the muscles in our legs. It has also helped me gain more confidence in my ability to play softball again and my hope for the future. For my DO part of this portion, I included a video of me at my physical therapy. I wanted to research this project because I am interested in becoming a Physical therapist. It is something I can really relate with since I have been surrounded by it a ton lately in my daily life.
This project has taught me the importance of physical therapy and how much it truly helps patients. Before my wreck and physical therapy, I didn’t really know much about this career because I had never had any contact with it. For my watch part of this project, I found a documentary on netflix titled, “When I Walk,” which focuses on Jason DaSilva who was 25 years old and a rising, award-winning documentary filmmaker. He was diagnosed with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis that changed his life (Columbia University Irving Medical Center, 2014). Physical therapy played a huge role in his treatment and it gave me insight on real things that happen in this field. Physical therapists go through so much everyday just to personally care for each patient they come in contact with and that is something I really appreciate. I plan to use this research to help further my interest in this career. I plan to possibly one day help patients with injuries the same way I am being helped right now.
In conclusion, it’s hard not to take the things for granted that you are surrounded with everyday. I took for granted just being able to put on my socks and shoes painlessly and even walking up the stairs effortlessly. The truth is, it can be gone in a matter of seconds, leaving you begging for help. Recovering from life changing events is a long and painful journey; learning to be patient with yourself is the key to healthy living again. Physical therapists change the lives of many patients everyday through their personalized and specific care that they share with every patient. If the world didn’t have physical therapists, there would be a huge gap in society that is needed to help patients get their lives back on track. PT’s deserve more recognition for all of their hard work and compassion to help the injured.