Rehabilitative Therapy FAQs

Answers To Commonly Asked Questions On Rehabilitative Therapy

At Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab, we believe understanding your body is the first step toward taking better care of it. We’ve compiled answers to some common questions about rehabilitative therapy in Alaska. If your question isn’t answered here, please contact us. We have an experienced team of chiropractors and rehabilitative therapists in Alaska who are ready to share their expertise and help you get back to your active, pain-free life!

How will rehabilitative therapy or occupational therapy help me?

Rehabilitative therapy or occupational therapy (also known as rehabilitation) focuses on stretching and strengthening the muscles supporting your spine. This is important because your muscles play a central role in the amount of pain you experience. Whether your pain is from an injury, trauma or just everyday wear and tear, your muscles have been affected.

During the initial healing phase, your muscles tighten up to protect the injured area. This protection often causes pain and inflammation. Rehabilitation begins by focusing on pain reduction.

Once the pain is reduced, we then focus on increasing range of motion and strengthening the affected areas. Finally, we’ll provide education on posture, positioning and daily activities to help prevent re-injury.

How can rehabilitative therapy or occupational therapy help decrease pain?

Rehabilitative or occupational therapy (also known as rehabilitation) uses a variety of techniques to reduce pain. While exercises are a part of the process, treatments such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, hot/cold packs, traction and diathermy are also used. These help increase blood flow, relax tight muscles, stimulate the healing process, and increase joint flexibility. Education is also a vital part of rehabilitation.

Together, all of these things will help you safely use your muscles – and prevent your pain from returning.

What is a physical rehabilitative therapist?

A physical rehabilitative therapist is a member of the allied heath field who helps to heal and treat musculoskeletal and neurological disorders. They may treat a person from birth to passing, and from the hospital to school to home. Physical rehabilitative therapists understand many common illnesses like low back pain or knee pain, as well as being able to treat patients with complicated multi-systemic issues. Some physical rehabilitative therapists will have an advanced certificate or specialized training in things like orthopedic practice, neurologic management, cardiovascular and pulmonary, pediatric, geriatric, sports rehabilitative therapy or electrophysiological testing and measurement.

What does a physical rehabilitative therapist do?

A physical rehabilitative therapist will review your medical history, measure your flexibility, grade your strength, determine balance and coordination, test sensation and reflexes, listen to your functional impairments, and help to understand your pain and overall complaints. They may have you complete questionnaires and special tests to determine dysfunction or levels of disability. At Better Health, your Alaska physical rehabilitative therapist will work with our chiropractic physicians to develop goals and a plan of care to help reduce pain, improve flexibility, increase strength, improve coordination and posture, and reduce impairments.

What will my physical rehab program include?

At Better Health, our licensed physical rehabilitative therapists work closely with our chiropractic physicians to develop individualized plans for each patient. A physical rehab program will likely include a combination of exercises, manual therapies and modalities.

Exercises are one of the main tools in a physical rehabilitative therapist’s bag. Exercises help to increase strength, flexibility and range of motion, lubricate joints and increase blood flow to increase the body’s ability to heal itself. At Better Health, we will teach you the proper techniques to complete a home exercise program.

Manual therapies include massage therapy, joint mobilization and traction, and other hands-on techniques. Therapeutic massage has positive effects on the circulatory system, the lymphatic flow, the nervous system, muscles, the fascia, the skin, scar tissue, feelings of relaxation and pain. Joint mobilizations are when our therapists use their hands to stretch the joint capsule and improve joint mobility.

  • There are many modalities that might be used in rehabilitative therapy treatments, including thermal modalities, electrical modalities, mechanical modalities, and light therapies.
  • Thermal modalities, such as heat or ice, are the most commonly used. At Better Health, we may also use diathermy, infrared and ultrasound to change your tissue temperature.
  • Electrical modalities are often the second-most commonly used modality. There are different frequencies and types of electrical stimulation, including of TENS, IFC and Russian stimulation, and iontophoresis, which is a way to put medications into the body using electrical charges to push medication through the skin. Biofeedback is a way to measure a muscle’s electrical output to help change how the body connects with the muscle. These modalities are all harmless when used correctly, and our physical rehabilitative therapists are specially trained in using these modalities.
  • Mechanical modalities like traction can be used on the neck or back to help open up compressed areas and allow stretching. These are commonly used for low back pain or neck pain.
  • Light therapies are the least commonly used technologies, but they are helpful to increase blood flow and decrease the inflammatory process of tissues.

What is the difference between occupational therapy and rehabilitative therapy?

Both occupational therapy (OT) and rehabilitative therapy focus on the overall health and strength of your body, and play an important role in helping you return to an active, pain-free life.

An occupational therapist, takes a look at your daily activities and how your pain is affecting your work and play. Then, they’ll work with you to find ways to continue your activities with as little pain as possible. Rehabilitative therapy, meanwhile, focuses on reducing pain and rehabilitating specific areas of your body.

Why do I need both chiropractic care and rehabilitative therapy?

Rehabilitaitve or occupational therapy (rehabilitation) is complementary to chiropractic care for many reasons. First, chiropractic care focuses on adjusting the bones in your spine and extremities, while rehabilitation focuses on the muscles supporting those bones.

Also, our muscles often contribute to spinal problems and visa versa. Strengthening and stretching those muscles will actually help maintain the benefits of chiropractic care. Meanwhile, having regular chiropractic adjustments will help maintain the benefits of rehabilitation.

How long do I need to be in rehabilitative therapy or occupational therapy?

The length of your rehabilitative or occupational therapy (rehabilitation) varies depending on the individual. However, the majority of patients can expect the rehabilitation phase to last four – six weeks.

Factors that may affect the length of rehabilitation include:

  • Activity level
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Substance abuse (tobacco and/or alcohol)
  • Follow-through with appointments and home exercises

How can rehabilitative therapy prevent new injuries?

Rehabilitative and occupational therapy (rehabilitation) will help teach your body the safest way to move and exercise. It will also help your muscles attain proper balance. This all helps you to move efficiently and effectively – minimizing future injuries.

Do I need to continue my physical rehab exercises after my pain has decreased or is gone?

Every time you move your muscles, you allow fresh blood and oxygen into the area, helping to flush toxins and reduce pain. Exercising helps promote a healthy body – and maintains the benefits from your rehabilitation.

The bottom line is – the more exercise you can incorporate into your daily life, the healthier your body will be.

Should I continue my physical rehab exercises even if there is pain?

Rehabilitative or occupational therapy (rehabilitation) exercises should not increase your pain. If you’re experiencing pain during exercise, it is important to stop. Try repositioning yourself, resting for a few minutes, and then trying again. If pain persists, consult your therapist or doctor.

Can’t I just do my physical rehab exercises at the gym?

When you’re not in acute pain, working out at the gym is encouraged. However, the equipment found at most gyms is not appropriate for everyone – especially for rehabilitative/occupational therapy (rehabilitation) patients.

The exercises and machines used in rehabilitation are more specific to your individual needs. Using this equipment, under the guidance of your therapist, will help prepare your body to be more effective when you do return to the gym.

During rehabilitation, your therapist will also work with you to design a post-care gym routine to help you maintain the benefits of your rehabilitation.

Why is posture important?

The way you position your body throughout the day has a huge impact on the “little” damage you incur every day. Over time, these “little” damages add up – causing big problems.

When you hold your body in the safest manner, you minimize the damage to your body. That’s why posture and body mechanics are the first things we discuss during rehabilitative/occupational therapy (rehabilitation).

What is the history of rehabilitative therapy?

Although the concept of going to a rehabilitative therapy clinic may seem like a modern one, the first organized physical rehab service dates back to 1894. This was when a chartered association was formed by the nurses of England, who pledged to extend physical rehab treatment in a structured manner. Since then, rehabilitative therapy has established itself as a suitable method for facilitating care and rehabilitation.