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Physical Therapy: Early and Frequent Mobility

3/8/18 8:55 AM



The phrase “early and frequent mobility” is being used all across the medical field, from a health and wellness point of view, to patient care in ICU. For many years physical therapists have promoted this treatment strategy. Physical therapists can provide interventions to improve patient quality of life through all stages of healing; acute, subacute and chronic. Why wait until the chronic stage of an injury to get treatment, “current evidence suggests that physical therapy has much to offer particularly during the early stages of the healing process. Various studies support the use of modalities commonly used by physical therapists, such as electrical stimulation for the purpose of managing acute pain and inflammation. Proper education on the use of cryotherapy for self-management of acute injuries has also been shown to be of benefit for increasing return to function” (Lebec & Jogodka, 2009). While modalities are an important tool we have to offer therapeutic exercise paired with manual therapy has shown to be most beneficial. “Properly prescribed early movement and manual techniques can facilitate the removal of edema, reduce pain, prevent disuse atrophy and restore normal movement patterns” (Lebec & Jogodka, 2009).


For many injuries physical therapists can make an impact on patient quality of life within the first 24 hours of occurrence. In many hospitals across the nation physical therapists are being utilized as consults in musculoskeletal dysfunctions. “A physical therapist’s functional assessment could circumvent costs associated with an unnecessary inpatient admission or an injury resulting from an inappropriate discharge to the home setting. Physical therapy consultation often inaugurates the patient into the rehabilitation track of the healthcare system at the earliest opportunity, therefore there is better potential to prevent chronic progression and high associated costs. For many patients with acute musculoskeletal conditions, there is evidence that an earlier referral of this nature produces such benefits” (Lebec & Jogodka, 2009).


While immediate use of physical therapists in the emergency departments may take time, the immediate referral to Outpatient therapy after an acute musculoskeletal injury does not have to. Patients often are not seen in our office for up to a month or more after an injury while waiting for referrals to other specialists or awaiting imaging results. The sooner the patient can get into our offices the sooner we can impact their overall quality of life. Choose PT first!


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Lebec, M. T., & Jogodka, C. E. (2009). The Physical Therapist as a Musculoskeletal Specialist in the Emergency Department. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 39(3), 221-229. doi:10.2519/jospt.2009.2857

Written by Erin Bolowsky, PT.

Erin Bolowsky, PT, DPT is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and currently accepting new patients in our Cicero Office.

Topics: physical therapy