Pharmacy Residency (PGY1)

Parkland’s physical therapy program is a moving experience

Parkland’s physical therapy program is a moving experience

October is National Physical Therapy Month

The role physical therapists play in helping people move again after being diagnosed with chronic conditions or recovering from injuries is paramount on the road to recovery.

This October is the 30th anniversary of National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM), which raises awareness about the many benefits of physical therapy. It is also a time to celebrate the profession and all the ways physical therapists (PT), physical therapist assistants (PTA) and students help individuals get moving again. The NPTM theme this year is “Choose to Move,” which emphasizes physical therapists’ unique value as movement experts and the benefits of regular physical activity.

Physical therapy turned out to be a life changer for one Parkland patient who was an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of a gun violence incident in September 2017. Jose Carlos Peraza Flores became a victim of circumstance because the shooting led him to become a double-leg amputee. He received initial treatment from another hospital after the shooting and was in a coma for two days.

He was eventually referred to Parkland’s physical therapy department after receiving prosthetic legs toward the end of 2019. There, he received treatment for eight months and learned how to walk again. Before physical therapy, Flores said he was depressed at home because he couldn’t do anything on his own and wasn’t able to work. “Once I was able to take those first steps, I started feeling freer and more independent. The most exciting part was gaining confidence in myself. I believed in myself and that made me want to try and learn how to drive all over again,” said Flores.

Today, Flores has a custom vehicle he can drive using his hands, and thanks to help from the Dallas Workforce Commission, he has a part-time job as a driver with Amazon.

Flores praises the technology and his physical therapist at Parkland for helping him get back to a new normal.

“PT helped me understand that there are still so many things I can do on my own. If I didn’t go, I would have been at home taking anti-depressants not doing anything. Now, I am more motivated than ever to live my life,” he said. “Physical therapy at Parkland let me see that life gave me a second chance.”

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, inadequate physical activity is linked to approximately $117 billion in annual healthcare costs in the U.S., about 10% of premature mortality and leads to reduced quality of life for millions of Americans. The pandemic also drove people to be more sedentary and access to quality physical therapy proved to be a challenging journey.

“Although the COVID-19 shutdown brought unique challenges to Parkland’s physical therapy division, we learned new processes and adapted,” said Donna Crump, PT, DPT Outpatient Rehab Therapy Manager at Parkland Health. “It’s imperative to share the value of physical activity. Parkland offers inclusive ways for us to share with our patient population the importance of therapy to maintain and live a healthy life.”

The second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, created by a federal advisory committee comprised of researchers in the fields of physical activity, health and medicine, reports that approximately 80% of U.S. adults and adolescents are insufficiently active. As a result, many Americans currently have or are likely to experience chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and depression.

So, how much physical activity should each age group aim for?

According to the guidelines, the following amounts of physical activity are recommended:

Preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5 years) should be physically active at least for three hours a day, if not more. Adult caregivers should encourage active play that includes a variety of activity types and limit the sitting-around time, such as screen time.

Children and adolescents (ages 6 through 17 years) need at least 60 minutes or more of activity a day. This includes activities to strengthen bones, build muscles and get the heart beating faster.

Adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, and at least two days for muscle-strengthening activities. Adding more time provides further benefits.

Older adults (ages 65 and older) should do at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week and include muscle-strengthening activities two days a week. Individuals should also add components, such as balance training but consult with a healthcare provider if limitations exist due to preexisting conditions.

Pregnant and postpartum women who were physically active before pregnancy can continue these activities during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, but they should consult with their primary care provider about any necessary adjustments.

Adults with chronic health conditions and disabilities, who are able, should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week but they should consult their primary care provider about any necessary adjustments.

If individuals can’t move as much as is recommended, that’s when movement experts such as physical therapists can step in to improve the range of motion and offer patient education.

After making a diagnosis, physical therapists design personalized treatment plans for each patient to improve mobility, manage pain and other chronic conditions, recover from injury and prevent future injury and chronic disease. “Physical therapists empower people to be the leaders in their treatment plans,” said Crump. “They work patiently and collaboratively with other health professionals to ensure patients receive the comprehensive care they deserve.”

To learn more about the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Parkland Health, visit www.parklandhealth.org/physical-rehab.

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