Physical therapy good for what ails you

September 23, 2016

This is the first in a four-part series on Mercy Therapy Services in Carthage. Other parts of the series are occupational therapy, speech therapy and cardiac rehab.

People of any age, even infants, can benefit from physical therapy for a variety of reasons. For those in Carthage and surrounding areas, there’s a one-stop shop for therapy and rehabilitation services at Mercy Hospital Carthage on the McCune-Brooks Campus.

Physical therapy builds muscle strength, enhances range of motion and improves mobility, balance and coordination. A plan of care can be as varied as working with developmentally delayed infants and their parents or aquatic therapy for patients with chronic pain or weight-bearing restrictions. as well as special-needs pediatric patients.

“Physical therapy is designed to help people reach their optimum function,” said Jennifer Banks, senior staff therapist for Mercy Therapy Services in Carthage, where she’s been for more than five years. “The goal is to allow people to do their everyday tasks.”

Following an injury, illness or surgery, your doctor may recommend inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. Using the latest equipment in a modern rehab facility, the therapists at Mercy Therapy Services work with patients to restore function and relieve pain.

While many patients are recovering from injuries or surgery, physical therapy also can be used to help prevent injuries and improve body mechanics for work and life activities, said Banks, who has a doctorate in physical therapy and is a certified and licensed athletic trainer. Treatment may focus on preventing problems or treating problems that affect:

  • Muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones (musculoskeletal system)
  • Nerves and related muscles (neuromuscular system)
  • Heart and related blood vessels (cardiovascular system)
  • Lungs and breathing (pulmonary system).

“We treat the whole body and evaluate the whole person. If you come in with a knee injury, we’re not just going to work with your knee, but look at how it impacts the rest of your body,” Banks said. “We’re looking for how the person moves, which tells us a lot about where the problem is coming from.”

Banks pointed out there’s more than the physical aspect of physical therapy.

“Education for our patients is one of the most important things we can do for them,” she said. “A lot of times, people aren’t aware of how their body is supposed to move properly or what their limitations are – what pain is OK because it’s soreness and what is harmful pain.

“Emotionally, an injury can take a toll on a person. We try our best to listen with compassion and be an ear for our patients. If they’re not emotionally and spiritually feeling OK, it’s going to slow their physical healing. Stress impedes healing.”

Physical therapy, Banks said, isn’t just about what happens during rehab sessions.

“Patients are most successful when they come into therapy with an open mind, a willingness to learn and try new things, and a commitment to their program outside of the clinic,” she said. “Every patient will have a home program of things they should be working on. We want to create a lifestyle change. We want them to carry on what they learn here for the rest of their lives.”

Mercy Therapy Services at Mercy Hospital Carthage on the McCune-Brooks Campus, 3125 Dr. Russell Smith Way, can be reached at 417-359-1910.