Physical, Occupational & Speech Therapy is all about improving your quality of life after an injury or illness. Each type of service offers its own challenges and benefits.
Who might turn to a physical therapist for help? Just about anyone, at any age:
- Physical therapists can work with athletes of all ages to get them back into their sports.
- We can also work with children that are non-athletes with developmental delays (crawling, walking, sitting, toe-walking, etc) or muscle imbalances that are affecting the daily activities.
- Professionals can use it to relieve the pain and stiffness in the neck and back from inactivity.
- Children born with certain conditions such as cerebral palsy might benefit from physical therapy to improve their motor skills and coordination.
- Physical therapy can help cancer patients with way to improve their activities of daily living. Depending on their stage in treatment, we can focus on ways to make daily activities easier, as well as balance, strength, endurance, and functional mobility.
In general, the goal of physical therapy is to improve your motion and function, keep you as strong as possible, and prevent or reduce disability. You might work on flexibility, endurance, strength, balance, coordination, or all of the above. The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to help improve a patient’s daily activities to get them back to an active lifestyle.
Physical therapists might perform treatments such as:
- Soft and deep tissue work along with joint mobilization
- Fine-tuning of movement patterns, using our hands and trained eyes
- Gait analysis or evaluation of running and jumping mechanics
- Balance and posture correction
- The use of ultrasound, electrical stimulation and other approaches to help the body heal and regain coordination and strength
Speech therapy is designed to treat both communication and swallowing issues in children and adults.
Speech, language and swallowing disorders can result from illnesses or traumatic injuries such as:
- A brain injury such as a concussion
- Structural disorders in the mouth and throat, such as cleft palate
- Developmental delays in children
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cancer of the throat or larynx
Speech disorders can range from stuttering to apraxia — difficulties with speaking that occur because your brain cannot coordinate the muscles of your mouth correctly, because of an injury or illness. There are also voice disorders such as vocal cord paralysis, which can result from injuries, tumors or other illnesses.
Language disorders such as aphasia (difficulty understanding, speaking, writing or reading) can result from a stroke or injury and can also create a need for patients to re-learn some language skills.
Speech therapy can treat patients by:
- Teaching them to pronounce words correctly and fluently
- Helping them to share thoughts and feelings clearly
- Helping them to learn oral feeding skills, if needed
Our Speech Language Pathologists work with all ages, from infants to seniors. Speech pathologists also can provide valuable help to post-concussion patients.
Occupational therapy isn’t just for work-related tasks. If you have a medical issue that has affected your motor skills, coordination or thinking, occupational therapy can help you work on skills you need for everyday life, such as buttoning a shirt, tying a shoe, cooking a meal or creating arts and crafts.
Occupational therapy can be helpful for patients who:
- Have suffered injuries from an accident
- Are recovering from an illness such as a stroke
- Have lost a sense of touch or feeling in their hands, feet, or limbs
- Are struggling with developmental delays or disabilities
- Are suffering from Parkinson’s disease or other neurological conditions
For example, if you have Parkinson’s disease, a therapist might teach you exercises to help with everyday tasks such as getting out of a chair.
For children, occupational therapy can teach independence, build self-esteem, and help them cope with school, social activities, and even sports.
Typically, occupational therapy includes:
- Helping you set goals
- Designing activities to help you perform daily activities and reach your goals
- Evaluate your progress along the way, and adjust your therapy, as needed
Your occupational therapist may also help assess your home or work environment and recommend adaptive equipment you might need.
Therapy Designed Just for You
Our therapists work closely with your physician to develop a plan that can address your specific needs and help you move toward recovery. Your surgeon or physician can prescribe medication and address other concerns as you go through your therapy program.
In the meantime, your primary care provider will receive updated reports about your condition, treatments received and after-treatments notes. We also encourage you to keep in touch with your primary care provider for needs such as physicals, flu shots and blood pressure screenings.
Meet Our Therapists
Our certified therapists often work together to evaluate a patient’s needs. They are experts in addressing many medical issues that can have an impact on your therapy or “slow it down,” such as lymphedema (swelling in arms or legs). We also provide Functional Movement Screening, in which therapists can assess and pinpoint unusual patterns of movement or instability in your body.
We strive to provide compassionate care to patients. For example, if you are a patient at Stormont Vail Hospital we will provide physical therapy right in your room. We do as much as we can to meet you wherever you are, physically, mentally and emotionally, and help you move forward with your life.
Outpatient Versus Inpatient Therapy: What Services Do I Get, and Where?
Our outpatient care and inpatient care are distinct and designed to meet the different needs of outpatients and inpatients.
Outpatient Physical Therapy
Our outpatient physical therapy services can include:
Pelvic Health TherapyPelvic health therapy (men and women) to help improve the functions of pelvic floor. For example, if you’re dealing with urinary stress incontinence, you might perform certain exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles.
Functional Movement ScreensFunctional Movement Screens that can help identify abnormal or unusual movement patterns in your body.
Vestibular RehabilitationVestibular rehabilitation — a type of exercise that can improve balance and reduces dizziness.
Physical Therapy for ChildrenPhysical therapy for children affected by congenital disorders, injuries or illnesses.
Sports RehabilitationSports rehabilitation, whose goal is to help restore physical functions impaired by an injury
Orthopedic TherapyOrthopedic therapy, which can involve the back, neck, shoulder, and lower extremities (such as the knee or ankle)
Aquatic TherapyAquatic therapy — a walking-in-water exercise that can help you improve your heart health and muscle strength
Parkinson’s therapyDesigned to address movement difficulties in Parkinson’s disease patients
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)A manual therapy in which smooth, stainless steel tools are used to help break up scar tissue and adhesions in the body (for example, after surgery). This can help you move more smoothly and comfortably.
Therapy Following AmputationExercises designed to build muscle endurance and flexibility after the amputation of part of the body, such as a hand or limb.
Balance ImprovementTherapy designed to improve your balance — for example, after a head injury or stroke
Oncology TherapyDesigned to reduce pain and help you maintain your strength during cancer treatments
Outpatient Occupational Therapy
Our outpatient occupational therapy is designed to treat:
- Disorders of the hand, wrist, and elbow
- Stroke and neuromuscular (nerves and muscles) issues
- Cognitive issues with everyday tasks, such as impaired perception or reasoning
- Coordination and balance challenge
Outpatient Speech Therapy
This includes treatments focused on:
- Building verbal and nonverbal communication skills
- Improving memory and reasoning skills
- Strengthening oral (mouth and throat) muscles for speaking and swallowing
We also offer LSVT LOUD® — Lee Silverman Voice Therapy, a treatment named for a Parkinson’s disease patient. This therapy is designed to help Parkinson’s patients improve their speaking skills by learning to speak more loudly and powerfully. It works by stimulating the muscles of the voice box (larynx) with a series of exercises. We offer this as part of occupational and physical therapy.
When you’re in the hospital, you might receive physical, occupational or speech therapy while recovering from a surgery or an illness. Some of our most common inpatient services include:
- Physical and occupational therapy after joint replacement
- Physical and occupational therapy after spinal surgery
- Speech therapy after a stroke or brain injury
- Helping babies in the neonatal intensive care unit improve their swallowing ability