Anyone who has ever received treatment after a sports injury or accident knows the valuable role that physical therapy plays in the recovery process. It's even more beneficial when the therapist provides information so that, if the injury recurs, you'll know the steps to take to treat yourself.
That's the approach taken by Janet Nystrom and her staff at Physiotherapy Associates, a park tenant since 1993.
"In this day of managed care, where people's insurance policies are limiting their access to physical therapy, I think our strong point is education educating the patient on precautions for themselves and how to care for themselves in the future so that if they have a flare up, they know how to proceed with it," she explains.
The 10-person staff specializes in orthopedic physical therapy, which deals with the joints, muscles, and bones. (The other branch of physical therapy, neurological physical therapy, treats neurological issues such as those associated with strokes, head injuries, and cerebral palsy.) They work with patients of all ages, from children and young adults to Medicare patients.
They also see a lot of teenagers.
"We have contracts to provide care for two of the local high schools, Amador Valley High School and Foothill High," Nystrom says. "We have an athletic trainer in place at Amador who is on-site there three days a week to treat injured athletes, and if they need more care than she can provide, she sends them to us and we treat them for free. We don't have a trainer at Foothill but if a coach decides that a kid has something that's a minor injury that doesn't need medical care, they send them to us."
As the Baby Boom generation gets older, they see more patients of that age.
"We see a lot of people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s get rotator cuff problems shoulder problems," she says. "They may be from sports or their work or just from life."
Their treatment of a patient with a sore shoulder illustrates their methodology.
"We'd first do an evaluation to assess what their dysfunctions are, be they range of motion, strength, pain, or an inability to do things, and then set up a treatment program."
Treatment might include manual therapy or the use of Physiotherapy Associate's broad variety of equipment. It almost always includes exercise.
"Pretty much everybody gets exercises instruction on proper muscle recruitment, how to fire the muscles in the proper pattern to get the motion you want, and sometimes either audio or visual biofeedback. Then we give them progressive strengthening exercises for the target muscles and the surrounding muscles."
The ultimate goal, however, is to teach patients how to use their bodies so they don't re-injure themselves.
"The goal is to educate them on how to control their pain, to manage it and to recognize what sort of things might be causing it so that they can reduce or eliminate those stresses," she says. "We also teach them what they need to do maintenance wise, so that they don't return to us with the same problem six months down the road."
Physiotherapy Associates is open weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and can be reached at (925) 847-8833.
Also in this issue ...