From pediatrics to geriatrics and all the athletes and weekend warriors in between, physical therapy is a field of medicine that strives to get people moving and keep them moving regardless of their stage of life.
“It’s a great career with a broad spectrum,” said Rhett Farrer, physical therapist and athletic trainer and Southwest Sports Medicine Manager for Intermountain Healthcare. “We touch a lot of areas of healthcare from inpatient to post-operation recovery, outpatient visits, to returning to function following an injury, and sports performance training.
Among all the facets of physical therapy, Farrer said one of the biggest trends right now is helping patients maintain a healthy lifestyle long term, and really educating the public on what a healthy lifestyle looks like.
“So many people get frustrated with themselves, so they hit it hard for two weeks, but two weeks isn’t enough to change a lifestyle,” Farrer said. “Physical therapy can give an appropriate plan for their goals.”
The key for Farrer and his team is to treat each client as an individual.
“What works as a recipe for success for some is not a recipe for success for others,” he said.
“People with an ACL injury, for example, want to compare themselves to football quarterback Tom Brady, who recovered from an ACL injury in six months,” Farrer said. “But he is a professional athlete. His body is a Ferrari and yours might be more of a Buick.”
Laughing, Farrer added, “You’ve got a good body, but it needs a different set of tools and instructions to get it to perform like that.”
Physical therapy takes on an important role as part of a healthcare team, rather than an island unto itself.
There is a lot of collaboration with Athletic Trainers, exercise physiologists, nurses and the whole gamut to try to help the community, Farrer said.
While many people consider physical therapy an important step in recovery from an injury or surgery, Farrer said it is important to remember that physical therapy serves a proactive role too.
“If you’re in to see your family practice physician and he says you’ve picked up 20 pounds in the last year, he can send you to a physical therapist to find out your weak areas and help build a home exercise program,” Farrer said. “They can point your nose in the right direction, rather than starting a weight training program with no guidance.”
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people, particularly in the 30- to 40-year-old age bracket that are not taking those kinds of precautions.
“As we age, we need to realize that we’re not in high school anymore,” Farrer said. “These weekend warriors are beating themselves up.”
It’s all about education and following a well-thought-out plan.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re at physically, you can improve and you can get better,” Farrer said. “You may just need a little advice. Physical therapists are trained for that.”
For more information on physical therapy options, click here.