Role of Physical Therapy in medical treatment.
The study of physical therapy is generally termed as physical and rehabilitation medicine (PRM). It should be kept in mind that it is a new and developing branch of modern medicine. It is always considered as an alternative way of conventional medical treatment, which is somehow correct. But in many countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh etc., there is a misconception that physical therapy challenges the conventional methods of medical treatments which is actually wrong. The role of a physiotherapist is no less important than a doctor in a society. Because physical therapy is the first measure of treatment in many diseases. It helps in treatment of a disease while reducing the need of medication or drugs, thus decreasing the chance of side effects as well. Modern researches have proved that PRM is the only or the best treatment in some incurable major diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, Cerebrovascular accident, cardiopulmonary diseases, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis etc. The role of Physical Therapy or PRM is very pivotal in modern medicine. However, surveys show that majority of medical practitioners and students have very less knowledge of the importance of PRM in modern healthcare. (Tederko P, 2015)
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When we talk about incurable diseases that can only be treated by PRM, the most important one is Parkinson’s disease. It is a disease in which some parts of the brain are damaged, causing uncontrolled shivering and loss of balance in patient’s body. Some of its psychotic symptoms include depression and anxiety. The root cause of Parkinson’s is damaging of specific nerve cells in substantia nigra, that leads to reduce release of dopamine in brain, which is the main controller of body physics. The famous boxer Muhammad Ali was a patient of Parkinson’s disease. Till date, no proper cure for this disease has been found, although, there are certain medications that can be used to raise body dopamine levels to temporarily lessen the inflexibility and provide better muscle control such as Levodopa.(Drug Treatments for Parkinson’s, n.d.). However,physiotherapy helps reducing its effects and treating the patient to make him able to live with it without any medication. Patients undergo rehabilitation programs where they’re treated while performing different exercises and with help of orthotics and prosthetics. (Parkinson’s Disease, 2019) However, it is clinically proven that patient treated with help of orthotics have better follow up results compared to the patients treated with exercises only. (MD, 2001)
Another irremediable disease called Cerebral palsy is also treated with PRM techniques. Cerebral palsy means a sort of prevailing disabilities that occur before or soon after birth, however, its symptoms start showing up at early age of two or three years. It is mainly caused due to improper development of brain in mother’s womb or damage to it during or soon after birth. A child with cerebral palsy or a CP child will have symptoms like weak limbs, shivering movements or delay in development and growth of body etc. Another major cause of CP cases is premature births. Cerebral palsy is considered incurable and researches are underway to find its cure, but the only treatment of CP cases is use of PRM or physical therapy techniques. (Cerebral palsy, 2017) In this method of treatment, a physiotherapist provides movement exercises to decrease the stiffness and immobility of affected muscles, while occupational therapists make the patient enable to perform everyday functions. PRM therapies are also used to help CP Childs in speech and hearing problems. These therapies require different kinds of exercises and treatments such as specific stretches and movements for movement disabilities, while reading, speaking and hearing treatment sessions for speech therapy. (Speech and language therapy, 2017) Occupational therapists usually treat their CP patients by enhancing their abilities to perform daily activities, this therapy ranges from enhancing and maintaining nutrition to psychiatric session to build up confidence in child. However, it should be kept in mind that PRM or Physical therapy helps CP patient to survive with ease, and cannot eradicate the disease, as it is still incurable. The only medications that can be given to a CP child are sedatives, muscle relaxants such as valium, glycopyrolates etc. (Cerebral Palsy Medications, n.d.)
Moreover, there are several other diseases that can be treated by PRM techniques such as CVA, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis etc.
CVA (Cerebrovascular accident) or stroke is a clinical case which occurs when the blood flow to a specific part of brain is affected (stopped) by a blockage in a blood vessel or when it is ruptured. There are two types of CVA, one is Ishemic stroke while the other one hemorrhagic stroke. The first one is caused when blood flow is blocked by a clot, while the later one is due to the rupture of a blood vessel in brain or in membranes surrounding the brain. A stroke patient may feel a series of symptoms including paralysis, loss or blurring of vision, dizziness etc. These symptoms are mainly because of oxygen deprival in different parts of brain that causes the functions of that specific part to deteriorate. Treatments for CVA includes several medications that includes usage of clot busting medicines, antiplatelet, anticoagulants etc. (Stroke, 2019) (Ellis, 2018). Physiotherapy is another way of treating CVA cases. Early Physiotherapy or ESD (early support discharge) begins from 24 hours after a stroke with short frequent exercises focusing on small movements, then eventually delivering weekly treatment sessions, helping patient to recover movements and enabling them to perform daily activities again, with help of assistive PRM equipment to strengthen stroke rehabilitation. Furthermore, Long term physiotherapy session helps in prevention of further CVA attacks in future. (Physiotherapy works: Stroke, 2018).
Some of the other illnesses that can be cured or treated with PRM methods are osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis etc. Osteoporosis is a condition where bones are weakened sometimes leading to bone damage and bone collapse. Some of the major factors causing osteoporosis are age, genes, or gender (as it is more common in women who are above 40). Other factors include smoking, drinking, bone injuries etc. However, in rheumatoid arthritis there is often swelling and stiffness in joints, causing pain and difficulty in movements. This is a long term condition that is more likely to happen in women, people who smoke or who have a history of this disease. These diseases can be treated through surgical or medical methods, but lately, physiotherapy has been in a pivotal role in treatment of such conditions. Physiotherapists help patients in different movement exercises to enhance joint movements while occupational therapists help out in performance of daily activities with ease. (Osteoporosis, n.d.) (Rheumatoid arthritis, 2016).
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Apart from these, there are huge number of other diseases that are treated by PRM practitioners without or with very less use of any sort of drug or medication. Sometimes Physiotherapists do prescribe medications independently, these drugs often include anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, muscle relaxants etc. (Drugs Physios can prescribe, 2018). Moreover, role of a physiotherapist is also very important in other fields of medicine like sports medicine, prosthetic medicine etc.
Now as the importance of PRM has been proved in this essay, it should be understood that role of a physiotherapist is no less than a doctor in field of medicine. PRM is the first line of defense in many clinical problems and Is proven to be very crucial for prevention of many major diseases. Moreover, PRM is one of the most advanced and emerging fields of medicine and physiotherapists are keen in finding new ways and methods for treatment of 21st century patients suffering from diseases that are considered incurable or requires long term treatments. So the misconception about PRM that it is a contender on contemporary medicine is absolutely wrong because PRM or Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine is one of the core branches of modern medicine, which is proven in this essay. (David A. Nicholls, Volume 32, 2016 – Issue 3)
- Cerebral palsy. (2017, March 15). Retrieved from NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cerebral-palsy/
- Cerebral Palsy Medications. (n.d.). Retrieved from Cerebral Palsy Group: https://cerebralpalsygroup.com/treatment/medications/
- David A. Nicholls, K. A. (Volume 32, 2016 – Issue 3). Connectivity: An emerging concept for physiotherapy practice. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice , 159-170.
- Drug Treatments for Parkinson’s. (n.d.). Retrieved from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/guide/drug-treatments#1
- Drugs Physios can prescribe. (2018, February 19). Retrieved from Chartered society of physiotherapy: https://www.csp.org.uk/news/2018-02-19-nhs-gives-green-light-consultation-drugs-physios-can-prescribe
- Ellis, M. E. (2018, May 23). Cerebrovascular Accident. Retrieved from healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/cerebrovascular-accident
- MD, R. M. (2001, January 23). The role of sensory cues in the rehabilitation of parkinsonian patients: A comparison of two physical therapy protocols. Retrieved from Wiley Online Library: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/1531-8257(200009)15:5%3C879::AID-MDS1018%3E3.0.CO;2-9
- Osteoporosis. (n.d.). Retrieved from Chartered Society of Physiotherapy: https://www.csp.org.uk/conditions/osteoporosis#what-is-osteoporosis
- Parkinson’s Disease. (2019, April 30). Retrieved from NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/parkinsons-disease/
- Physiotherapy works: Stroke. (2018, October 01). Retrieved from Chartered society of physiotherapy: https://www.csp.org.uk/publications/physiotherapy-works-stroke
- Rheumatoid arthritis. (2016, August 12). Retrieved from NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/
- Speech and language therapy. (2017, August 05). Retrieved from NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/video/pages/speechandlanguagetherapy.aspx
- Stroke. (2019, Januray 21). Retrieved from NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stroke/
- Tederko P, K. M. (2015, Dec 1). Retrieved from PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26629844/?i=2&from=/26181146/related
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