Posted: Monday, October 30, 2023

Oct. is Physical Therapy Month

Physical therapy isn’t just something recommended after an injury or surgery; it can be a useful tool to improve movement, decrease pain and increase physical function at any point its needed. Physical therapy can help patients with balance issues, arthritis, strength, gait, vertigo, neurological disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, sports injuries and chronic pain. Physical therapists at Blount Memorial Hospital work hard on the inpatient, outpatient, home-bound and facility side to help patients feel better and get moving again.

Similar to other medical professions, training to become a physical therapist involves multiple steps spanning several years. To practice in Tennessee, the minimum requirements are that a physical therapist must graduate with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from an accredited university, pass the National Physical Therapy exam and receive licensure from the Tennessee Department of Health. Most physical therapy sessions are 30-60 minutes long, depending on the individualized plan the patient and therapist create, and frequency may be once or several times a week, again depending on the condition and level of treatment. In addition to stretching and exercises, physical therapists can use ice; heat; dry needling; electrical stimulation; traction, braces or wraps; manual therapy; or kinesiology taping to treat an area or condition.

The inpatient physical therapists at Blount Memorial evaluate and treat patients during their time in the hospital with the goal of increasing their functional strength and mobility, allowing them to transition home or to the appropriate next level of care, such as skilled nursing or assisted living. “We see a wide variety of diagnosis such as strokes, joint replacements and lung conditions. In fact, the inpatient physical therapy staff was integral to the care of patients during the COVID pandemic, helping them get stronger and more mobile as they recovered. The inpatient physical therapy team, including licensed physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapy assistants (PTAs), sees an average of 160 visits per week,” said Margaret Heather, inpatient manager of Blount Memorial Total Rehabilitation.

“Outpatient physical therapy averages approximately 800 new patients per month and nearly 10,000 patient visits per month across nine different outpatient clinics. There are more than 130 physical therapy clinicians (PTs and PTAs) on the outpatient side. In addition to the usual outpatient conditions such as post-surgery rehabilitation, injuries and functional mobility, Total Rehabilitation offers specially trained lymphedema therapists (swelling management), oncology and post-cancer care, wound care, pelvic health rehabilitation, pediatric rehabilitation (two pediatric clinics) and rehabilitation services through Blount Memorial Home Services,” Rebecca Morris, outpatient manager for Blount Memorial Total Rehabilitation, explained.

Another service offered to our community is sports medicine. The time spent on the sidelines of local sports teams and events by Blount Memorial’s athletic trainers is donated to the schools by the hospital. Last year, they gave more than 10,000 hours of service as athletic trainers to our area, serving more than 1,500 student athletes.

In addition to physical therapy, Blount Memorial Total Rehabilitation offers licensed occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists, treating a variety of conditions. To make an appointment, call 865-238-6118.

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