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How to get more out of PT

Suzanne Ovel Following a plan of care is one way to get the most out of physical therapy.

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Whether one needs physical therapy treatment or is already engaged in it, Physical Therapist Lou McGranaghan offers advice on how to get the most out of physical therapy. Physical therapy works to restore function to injured areas of the body and to diminish pain.

McGranaghan said the first thing patients can do to take care of injuries is to take early action to get treatment. "If you catch it earlier, usually your recovery will be shorter and may very well not be as severe as an injury," he said.

Once in treatment, he encourages patients to focus on four areas:

1. Keep in constant communication with your therapist. Soldiers should especially tell their therapists if their treatment makes them hurt more. Increased pain might be expected in some cases such as post-operation, but should always be reported.

2. Follow your plan of care. Soldiers should ensure they are consistent in their care and attend all scheduled appointments.

3. Complete your PT "homework," or exercises at home that a therapist recommends. "Doing your homework is a critical thing. Therapists can always tell right away on return visits if the patient is or isn't doing the homework," said McGranaghan. He said patients get a lot more out of treatment if they do all of their home exercises in addition to attending PT appointments.

4. Rest is as important as the work you put out. Soldiers should ensure they follow their therapists' guidelines, and don't overdo it or risk re-injury.

McGranaghan added that "the home exercise program is going to go on well past discharge from physical therapy." He stressed that PT patients should protect the safety of their injured areas for two to four months after discharge to help prevent re-injury.

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