Today’s patients seek to improve their overall health and wellness rather than waiting to become ill and requiring medical treatment. This new philosophy begs the question, what is wellness? In a wellness-oriented practice, physical therapy can be complimented by yoga, Pilates, and other gentle, restorative exercises. The principal idea is that these practices assist your treatment plan by restoring overall balance to your body.
When done properly and as part of a comprehensive approach to health and wellbeing, physical therapy can greatly improve ease of movement and quality of life for nearly anyone. This is where the importance of wellness becomes apparent, and where a wellness-centered physical therapy practice stands apart from the rest.
Wellness is a broad concept that encompasses a philosophy of health and healthcare. Physical therapists who practice integrative care acknowledge that nutrition is an essential part of achieving good outcomes. Moreover, they recognize the importance of emotional health, relaxation and reflection. In this model, is understood how the neglect of one can create an imbalance in others, which is why physical therapists will frequently refers patients to nutritionists or psychotherapists so challenges in those areas can be appropriately addressed."...physical therapy can greatly improve ease of movement and quality of life for nearly anyone."
Recognizing the important benefits of wellness practices in conjunction with physical therapy can make for more creative and productive treatments for patients. Therapists who recognize and respect the interconnectivity of the diverse components of their patients’ health can gain a better perspective on their patients’ needs and develop more effective working relationships.
When treatment has been completed, transition to a wellness-focused program under the guidance of a skilled physical therapist or physical therapist assistant can prevent re-injury and allow the patient to progress toward their individual goals. It is the hope of the physical therapist that their patients bring what they have learned in their treatment sessions to their practice of yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, or other restorative exercise.
This approach is different than what patients would normally see at many more typical physical therapy practices. At these more common offices, physical therapy is a standalone treatment, unaccompanied by any wellness practices unless patients seek them out independently outside of treatment. Patients typically also receive a different style of care, wherein therapists focus on treating an individual symptom or area."...in a wellness practice, physical therapists use hands-on techniques..."
Patients who choose a wellness-oriented approach to physical therapy after being previously treated at a more conventional practice might find that their new office is less clinical or “medical” in look and feel, seeming as much like a retreat or spa as a clinic. They quickly notice that the focus of treatment is on how they feel as individuals more than the pain or discomfort that brought them in the front door. They may also have the opportunity to experience a different relationship with their therapists, and find that in a wellness practice, physical therapists use hands-on techniques and avoid using treatments such as ultrasound and e-stim. Clinics that follow this philosophy provide one-on-one sessions and avoid overlapping of patients, allowing for individualized patient care.
Different physical therapy practices have diverse treatment philosophies, office environments, and relationships to patients. Because patients come to physical therapy for various reasons and with different individual tastes, there is no such thing as a better or best kind of physical therapy practice. While recommendations or referrals can be made, the choice of where you receive physical therapy is your own to make, and in Massachusetts, you have the right to choose your physical therapist or clinic. A wellness-oriented practice is well suited to anyone seeking personalized, one-on-one care or looking to improve their overall long-term health.