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Physical Therapists Help Patients Return to the Activities They Love

Even before she got hurt, Marissa Millman, a graduate student at Miami University in Oxford, knew she had a problem. The tendons in one leg were weak. She'd had physical therapy a long time ago, but it hadn't ended her pain.

Marissa loved being active, hiking and playing sports. So she kept at it, even though she figured she'd get hurt again. But she was just standing around when the tendon finally gave out, causing her kneecap to slip sideways. She couldn't bend or straighten her leg. Would she ever be able to hike again?

The physical therapy (PT) team at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital | TriHealth developed a treatment plan for Marissa. Their goal? To get her back on the hiking trails-without pain. She needed an operation and started with PT to get ready. After her surgeon fixed the tendon, she did more physical therapy. Now, Marissa says her knee works better than ever. She's even hiked tough trails in Maine's Acadia National Park.

Many patients don't need surgery for pain relief. If you have arthritis in your knee, you may need just a few PT sessions. Often, you can get back to gardening, tennis, bowling or other activities quickly, says Tim Holder, director of the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Department, MHMH. Your therapist may also teach you to make little changes in how you move, which can reduce pain.

If you've been injured or are in pain, you want fast relief. "We don't want to make our patients wait," says Tim. When you call for an appointment, you'll usually get started the next day. Your therapist will begin with an evaluation. "We ask about hobbies and physical activity. If a patient likes to play tennis, we want to get them back on the court."

During a session a therapist will assess the patient, use hands on techniques and specific exercises to improve mobility and strength of the injured areas.. You'll do other exercises on your own, both in the facility and at home. And you'll probably see the same therapist at each visit.

"To help patients get comfortable, we explain every step of an exercise or movement," says Tim. He adds that a therapist will make sure you understand that they are using the best techniques available. Marissa says these conversations allowed her to better understand her injury, and helped her be confident that she would get better.

The team works hard to help patients per form their exercises correctly. They also keep patients motivated. "My surgeon would sometimes stop by and check on me during PT," says Marissa. "Just knowing that he cared made a difference."

She also liked having the same therapist for every appointment. "We could talk about our work, vacations and families. I felt comfortable." She recently injured her shoulder playing softball, and she's happy to work with the therapist who helped her with her knee injury three years ago. She also likes the "patient-friendly" hours, especially her regular 7:30 a.m. appointment, which fits her busy schedule.

Marissa sums up her experience with one comment: "The therapists at McCullough-Hyde make it easy for me. They helped me recover."

Tags Orthopedics