Physical Therapy Offers a Chance to Heal

When Pam S., a 60-year old woman in the Valley, fell off of an electric scooter (TBird) and bruised her foot, she was relatively optimistic about it. “I was driving it on gravel and shouldn’t have been,” she said. “It was my carelessness, and I’m not a cautionary tale not to ride one or anything!”

After the initial injury

Physical therapy can give pain the boot!

Physical therapy can give pain the boot!

She went home, wrapped her foot up, and waited for it to get better. But it didn’t. Her family, concerned, convinced to her get an x-ray. The x-ray didn’t show a break. It took many weeks after that for her to be able to get an appointment with an orthopedist. The orthopedist diagnosed torn ligaments and recommended a boot.

“I felt stupid for going to see him. He spent less than two minutes with me, and I felt like, when he left the room so fast, it was because I’d wasted his time and he needed to go see ‘real’ patients,” she said.

Still, Pam S.’s foot didn’t improve. “It hurt all the time. Even with the boot, it hurt. I was formerly an active person. With the foot, I couldn’t be active. I had been dancing and just bought dancing lessons when the injury occurred. I became depressed.”

After another month without improvement, Pam S. returned to the orthopedist to get a referral for physical therapy.

Finally, a chance to heal

During her first physical therapy session, Pam said her therapist ‘fixed something.’

“That was the first time I’d been able to walk without pain in months!” she said. She instantly built a rapport with her physical therapist, who cautioned that, while she would improve, it might take many months before her injury healed. But Pam S. wasn’t deterred. Now that she is recovering, she can see a point in the future when she will back to her old self.

“Physical therapy has been a miracle for me. I am getting better and better after a long time when I feared I wouldn’t. Physical therapists are miracle workers!”

There is an upside to having to wait for physical therapy: those who have suffered for months and finally get some relief often become dedicated in their home exercise programs. The first visit negated any initial reluctance Pam S. had about having to pay the copay.

Being proactive

One thing patients can do when they injure themselves is to ask their physician or specialist about the possibility of physical therapy as an option on their initial visit, rather than waiting to go back when it doesn’t heal. Doctors are busy and won’t always remember physical therapy as an option. A patient who is proactive can ask the doctor about physical therapy on their initial visit, and say, “If this doesn’t get better on its own, can I call your office to get the referral for physical therapy?”

This dialogue will save the patient from having to make another trip to the specialist, and keep the staff from having to find a spot in the doctor’s busy schedule for a patient who doesn’t need a second doctor visit.

In many states, patients now have direct access to physical therapy, meaning a patient no longer needs a referral to get physical therapy. Individual insurance rules vary on payment of physical therapy sessions, so patients should check with their insurance carrier to learn what steps they need to take to secure reimbursement.

If you are looking for occupational or physical therapy, vestibular rehab, wheelchair training, learning to walk, unweighting, or other services in the Phoenix area, please call Touchstone Rehabilitation at 602-277-1073.