What Happens After I’m Done with Physical Therapy?
So you’ve put in your time doing physical therapy. Your doctor has released you. Your PT says you’re ready for discharge. So what next?
This can be an anxious time for many patients. Although they’ve reached their initial goals after putting in the hard work, sometimes patients leave with an unsettling feeling. Even with the nice printed home exercise program and discharge pep talk, many patients ask the same questions:
- “What if my pain comes back?”
- “Does the inflammation ever stop?”
- “Does the scar tissue ever go away?”
- “Should I go get massages from now on?”
- “My chiropractor says it’s necessary to get regular adjustments for the rest of my life. So why is physical therapy different?”
These are all great questions. The unfortunate truth these days is that “discharge” from PT does not always coincide with completely meeting all patient goals. In some cases, financial limitations or insurance benefits may dictate the timeframe a person can realistically participate in physical therapy. Frustratingly, a patient can be left with intermittent low-level pain. There might still be ongoing bouts of swelling or range of motion loss. In many cases, strength levels haven’t returned to pre-injury levels. So what then?
Clinics such as MVP Sports Center and Physical Therapy have answered that dilemna with a patient-focused solution. They give each one of their patients access to their sports center. While there are several clinics that offer use of their stationary bikes and universal weight machines for a monthly fee, MVP offers every patient a free 6 month membership to their 14,000 square foot state-of-the-art sports center after their last day of PT. Located within the same building as their physical therapy clinic, MVP Sports Center has been training elite and competitive athletes for over 10 years. Physical therapist at MVP Physical Therapy, Chau “Joe” Phan makes this point, “I feel much better knowing that I can discharge my patients and still have them close by so that I can touch base with them on a regular basis. I’m more at ease knowing that they are using the same equipment in their gym program as they did in their rehab program. A big part of the physical therapy model of healing is self-empowerment and functional independence. That’s how physical therapy is different from other professions like Chiropractic. I want each one of my patients to take ownership of their health so connecting them to a healthy and proactive lifestyle is the first major step.”
Wray Watkins is the Director of Strength and Conditioning at MVP Sports Center and regularly conducts performance evaluations with athletes prior to starting them off on a customized program. As an added service to former PT patients who have been discharged, he will perform a comprehensive evaluation that will look at measures such as strength, flexibility, endurance, and even agility and power if applicable. The evaluation is shaped around the ability and goals of each person and is FREE of charge. From there, clients who have been discharged from PT have the option of using the facility for free for 6 months or sign up for personal or small group training.
Participation in a consistent post-physical strengthening program has several key benefits:
1) It is a bridge to reaching goals set at the beginning of rehab that may not have been met due to factors like limitations in insurance coverage.
2) Allows for excellent carryover and follow-through of results gained in rehab.
3) In the spirit of “An apple a day…”, it’s a sure-fire way to prevent return of chronic conditions and alleviate the anxiety of re-injury.