October is National Physical Therapy Month

When you think of physical therapy, you may think it’s only available for rehabilitation or recovery after an injury. But physical therapy can offer individuals much more, from improving mobility and strength, to managing pain or chronic conditions, to providing stress relief and mood elevation.

October is national physical therapy month and Joie Flees from UT Health Austin’s Musculoskeletal Institute stopped by KXAN to discuss what it can do for you.

How does physical therapy influence your mood or relieve stress?

Physical therapy and exercise is a great way to improve your mood. Exercise, in itself, increases your energy level, so that even 5 minutes of exercising in nature can lift your spirits. And for those people who exercise on a regular basis, studies show reduced incidence of depression and anxiety. But moreover, exercise give you a sense of control over your health.

How would someone know if they would benefit from physical therapy?

If the symptoms you’re having impede your function, or if you’re not able to do the things that you love to do, then you may consider physical therapy. It’s not necessarily just for people who have had surgery or a work or life-altering injury.

How would someone use physical therapy to add exercise into their life?

For some people, it would depend on the goals they set for themselves. Joie says, “some people are coming in after surgery and if they are returning to sports, we look at strengthening or mobility exercises. But other people are trying to calm their nervous system, so we would assess whether they have tight muscles, or whether they have an overextended schedule, which means we would include things like yoga positioning, visualization exercises and controlled breathing into their personalized plan.”

What kind of time commitment should patient’s expect?

We know our patients lead very busy lives, so we want to meet them with a plan that works for them. People do come in for physical therapy two times a week if recovering from a surgery or an acute aggravation of a condition such as low back pain. Some people focus on a home exercise program and return to the clinic once every one to two weeks where we assess their progress and adjust their program based on their functional level.

How is physical therapy integrated into UT Health Austin clinics?

UT Health Austin is innovative they way they provide care. A person may come in for a one-time visit where they see the whole care team, which could include the doctor, physical therapist, social worker and dietitian. Other people may come in primarily just to see the physical therapist, the care team is in the background in case they are needed to collaborate or brainstorm about the patient’s condition.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin, the group practice designed and managed by the faculty and staff of the Dell Medical School, focuses the expertise of a team of experienced medical professionals to deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality. Our experienced healthcare professionals treat each patient as an individual, with unique circumstances, priorities and beliefs. Working with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room, and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.