Physical therapy is the treatment of a medical condition or injury using massage, exercise, heat treatments, stretching and other physical methods rather than surgery or drugs. Physical therapists work out of hospitals, schools, private practices, nursing homes, VA clinics and other locations.
How Physical Therapy Helps Veterans
Veterans make up one of the largest populations helped by physical therapy. Vets living with long-term injuries, disabilities and other health issues can benefit from physical therapy as they transition to a civilian life. Not only does physical therapy help vets regain strength, movement and flexibility, it also can reduce pain. This helps veterans avoid relying on painkillers alone to cope with pain.
In some cases, physical therapy can eliminate pain that may otherwise require surgery. When surgery is required, receiving physical therapy before and after the procedure can help veterans recover more quickly. Veterans suffering from vertigo or dizziness can benefit from physical therapy as well. Vertigo is often a side effect in veterans who have sustained a head injury or traumatic brain injury.
Most veterans receive physical therapy care from the VA, which employs about 1,000 licensed physical therapists. Many people don't think of physical therapists as doctors, but they are actually required to hold a Doctorate degree and pass a medical board exam to obtain a license to practice. However, this doesn't make them physicians. Physical therapists are often part of a patient's care team, and therapy is most successful when it's part of a larger treatment plan.
Get Involved During Physical Therapy Month
Each October during National Physical Therapy Month, the American Physical Therapy Association promotes its initiative to end the opioid epidemic. It's an important time to learn more about opioid abuse and how to find better long-term solutions for pain. Physical therapy can be effective at treating and lessening pain so that veterans and other patients don't need to rely on pain pills.
Opioids are necessary in many cases, but they can also be addictive and cause long-term health problems when misused or overused. Overusing pain pills, regardless of whether they're prescription or over-the-counter, can lead to depression, overdose, addiction and withdrawal. People who are addicted to opioids are also far more likely to become addicted to more harmful drugs such as heroin. Even the CDC now urges doctors to recommend physical therapy or other alternatives over prescription drugs when possible.
This October, you can make a difference by learning more about how physical therapy can reduce the need for pain medication and why it matters. You can also share the message over social media using #ChoosePT.
Help Disabled Veterans By Donating A Car
Another way you can make a difference this month is to donate an unwanted car to Vehicles For Veterans benefiting disabled veterans. Your car donation is tax deductible and Vehicles For Veterans will come to you with free towing from anywhere. Call us at 1-855-811-4838 or fill out an online car donation form to donate your vehicle today.