What is physical therapy?
Physical therapy is a type of non-invasive treatment that you may need when health problems make it hard to move around and do everyday tasks. It helps you move better and relieves pain. It also helps improve or restore your physical function and your fitness level.
The goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain and to make daily tasks and activities easier. For example, it may help with walking, going up stairs, or getting in and out of bed.
Common elements of treatment are stretching, strengthening, soft tissue massage, and pain management techniques.
What types of issues can physical therapy help?
Physical therapy can help with recovery after most injuries to joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy for injuries or long term problems such as back pain, bursitis or tendonitis, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, COPD, spinal stenosis, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis, just to name a few.
After surgeries like joint replacements, tendon releases, or muscle repairs, physical therapy helps your body heal properly. This could mean minimizing scar tissue, retraining and strengthening your muscles, or regaining mobility and function. You can find a more comprehensive (but still not complete!) list here.
Physical therapy can also help with balance and vestibular problems. These problems include vertigo, Meneire's disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), dizziness, and labrynthitis, among other issues. Balance and vestibular can be caused by a variety of issues, including sensory input, lower body weakness, and problems with the vestibular system.
At FYZICAL MetroWest, our "fyzical" therapists are experts in a wide range of orthopedic patients (joints, pain, surgeries), sports injuries, neurological patients, and vestibular patients.
What does a physical therapist do?
Your physical therapist will examine you and work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan. At FYZICAL MetroWest, we don't believe in one-size-fits-all. Every patient that walks in our doors is an individual with unique needs and wants, so each treatment plan has to be different! Depending on your health problem, your therapist will help you with pain management, flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and/or balance.
First, your physical therapist will try to reduce your pain and swelling. Then he or she will probably work to increase your flexibility, strength, and endurance.
Physical therapy almost always includes exercise. It can include stretching, core exercises, weight lifting, and walking. Your physical therapist will teach you an exercise program so you can do it at home.
Your physical therapist may also use manual therapy/soft tissue massage, education, and techniques such as heat, cold, water, laser, and electrical stimulation, depending on your specific needs.
What qualifications do my physical therapists have?
Physical therapists have all graduated college with a degree in physical therapy. Many physical therapists have a Master's of Science. At FYZICAL MetroWest, all of our physical therapists have a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT), which, like all medical degrees, requires additional, rigorous schooling. All of our doctors have passed their boards, and are fully licensed with the states.
Clinics also employ physical therapy assistants (PTA), who are also educated, licensed professionals. PTAs follow the plan of care written by the doctor of physical therapy, and treat patients with stretching, strengthening, exercises, hands-on, etc.
To help our therapists, we employe rehabilitation technicians. At FYZICAL MetroWest, we only hire techs who have a background in exercise science or kinesiology (the study of body movement). Technicians do not provide physical therapy services but are part of your care team.
What do I need to make an appointment for physical therapy?
Mostly, all you need is a desire to get better.
Massachusetts is an "open access" state. This means that if you would like to have physical therapy, you are welcome to make an appointment under any circumstances. However, Medicare does require a primary care physician or specialist to write a prescription for treatment. If you are a Medicare patient and do not have orders from a doctor, please call your doctor and tell them you'd like to see us for physical therapy!
Your insurance plan may also require a referral from your doctor. This is different than a doctor's orders/prescription, which, just like a prescription for medication, is written by any medical doctor and given to our office. A referral is a notice from your primary care doctor to your insurance company that you will be attending physical therapy. If you are unsure if you need a referral, contact your insurance company to discuss your benefits.
What should I know about my physical therapy appointments?
Your first appointment will be an evaluation. This will take about an hour. Depending on your specific needs, your physical therapist may test your strength, range of motion, pain, balance, and/or dizziness. The doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan which may include exercise, soft tissue massage, and/or modalities. The therapist will also determine with you how many times per week you should be seen, and for how many weeks.
After the initial appointments, our front office will work diligently with you to schedule appointments that work for your schedule. These subsequent appointments will be about 30 to 45 minutes, and will consist of carrying out the treatment plan that the therapist developed with you.
We suggest wearing loose fitting clothing around the affected area that allows for movement and manual therapy. If it's more convenient, you may change upon arrival or request a johnny to wear.
What does it cost to go to physical therapy?
For your convenience, FYZICAL MetroWest accepts assignment for most insurances, which means that most insurance companies will pay us directly.
However, each insurance plan is different. Your plan may require you to pay a deductible, a coinsurance, or a copayment. We ask that you please call your insurance company to understand what they will and will not cover. You can find the phone number for Member Services on your insurance ID card.
We want to make your care as easy as possible for you. We offer payment plans and Care Credit to help you afford your care. If you have questions regarding payment options or what/how your insurance paid, please contact Lauren Abelow at 508-650-0060, ext. 302.