Should I Skip Physical Therapy During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
If you have hand or arm pain, or you are recovering from surgery of the hand or arm, you may be tempted to “tough it out” and skip your physical therapy sessions during the pandemic. But that’s not advisable – and can lead to long term joint damage or mobility issues – according to physical therapy experts!
Physical therapy is considered an essential medical service, and as such most physical therapists have remained open throughout the past year in spite of COVID-19. Nonetheless, some people have delayed getting or continuing care.
And, on top of this, many people are already moving less due to quarantine. In addition to skipping physical therapy, many patients have had a decreased level of activity for the past year, while they stayed home and social distanced.
Why You Shouldn’t Skip Physical Therapy During the Pandemic
In order for patients with a joint illness, injury or damage to regain normal mobility, following the prescribed timeframe of physical therapy is essential. In fact, full recovery from injury or surgery is often dependent on physical therapy.
Some people believe they can take several weeks or months off and just resume physical therapy at a later date. But by then serious damage may have been done! Patients must heal fully to prevent problems in the future. And degenerative conditions in the body don’t “wait” until a more convenient time. With every passing week, a joint condition can become worse – or full recovery can be permanently thwarted – if prescribed physical therapy is not followed.
Other patients may simply try to exercise at home in place of obtaining PT or OT from a trained therapist. This is also huge mistake, since exercising after surgery or an injury without the help of a trained expert can cause serious damage.
The physical therapist is trained to make sure that the joint is moved only in the right ways – and to ensure that patients do not overextend themselves and cause further damage to healing tissue.
Virtual Physical Therapy During the Pandemic
Earlier in the pandemic, many patients shifted to virtual therapy to help curb the risk of exposure to the virus. This can be a viable temporary option for patients who may be at high risk from COVID 19 – but overall, it is not a permanent solution to in-person physical therapy.
When a patient is treated in person by a physical therapist, they scientifically measure joint mobility, assess joint flexibility, and test strength with resistance. This enables them to evaluate how well you are healing so they can adjust your therapy as you improve. But a physical therapist cannot do any of these things virtually via telehealth.
Additionally, physical therapists use a wide variety of specialized testing tools and exercise equipment during in-person sessions. Patients do not have the benefit of any of this equipment if they see their physical therapist only virtually.
Many physical therapy sessions also incorporate the use of Electric Stimulation Therapy, a therapeutic treatment that applies electrical currents to treating muscle spasms or pain, as well as to prevent atrophy and build muscle strength. E-stim can also be used to keep muscles active, especially after spinal cord injuries or strokes.
And, massage as well as physical manipulation by the therapist is also an integral component of many physical therapy sessions – which obviously cannot be applied during virtual PT!
Physical Therapy | Macomb County
Our staff is constantly wiping down and disinfecting equipment and all high-touch surfaces. Many physical therapy sessions can be conducted in private treatment rooms, and when common area usage is necessary – such as the gym – the spaces have been modified to provide ample social distancing between patients. Patients and therapists also wear masks at all times to ensure the utmost in patient safety.
Remember, skipping physical therapy sessions can delay recovery and even prevent full recovery from being possible. And waiting too long to obtain physical therapy can result in long-term complications, permanent joint damage, and loss of mobility or function in the hand, arm or joint. So do not delay any longer is scheduling your physical therapy sessions at Macomb Hand Surgery in Macomb County.