The profession of physical therapy is a fascinating one because we, as a collective group of clinicians, are experts in how the human body moves. And, having expertise not just in HOW it moves, but understanding how all of the body’s systems work together to comprehend WHY people move the way that they do. Because of this wide range of knowledge, physical therapists have the unique opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients.
Most often, the public associates physical therapy with the rehabilitation of orthopedic and sports injuries. People are often surprised to learn about the different conditions that we treat at the Balance + Concussion Center. Here is a summary of the variety of diagnoses or symptoms that we see most often:
Dizziness/Vertigo: Dizziness and vertigo (a sense of spinning) can be caused by a problem in the vestibular system (inner ear) or in the brain. We use a variety of tests to help determine the root cause of a person’s dizziness or vertigo and create a treatment plan to address those problems. We use vestibular rehabilitation techniques to treat conditions such as BPPV (loose “crystals” in the inner ear), vestibular migraine, Meniere’s disease, PPPD (Persistent Postural Perceptual Dizziness), and more!
TMD: Jaw pain is a common problem often caused by clenching the jaw and grinding the teeth. Physical therapy is a very helpful, non-invasive treatment option for those dealing with acute and chronic pain in the jaw. We use manual techniques and exercises to help restore normal mobility of the jaw. We also look at the neck and upper back, as posture and tightness in these areas can also affect how the jaw moves.
Concussion: A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury and is almost always accompanied by an injury to the neck (like whiplash). Physical Therapists trained in concussion management are able to help an individual with concussion recover faster. PT for concussion rehabilitation includes techniques for treating post-concussion symptoms coming from the neck, dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, impaired balance/coordination and exercise intolerance.
Headache: Headaches are often a result of a neurological problem (migraine), muscle tension in the neck/upper back, or a mechanical dysfunction in the neck. Exercises and treatment techniques in PT can address these impairments to help reduce headache frequency and intensity.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD): While PD is a chronic, progressive neurological disease, people living with PD can make huge functional gains with physical therapy intervention. People with PD’s movements are often too small in size and power. With the right interventions, they can learn to increase the amplitude of their movements to a more normal size and speed. This allows people with PT to walk and move more safely and efficiently and maintain as much independence as they can with daily activities.
Physical therapy is an appropriate intervention for so many different disorders and conditions. Whether it is an orthopedic problem or a neurological problem, there is likely a treatment option that is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask your healthcare team if you think physical therapy could be beneficial for you!