By Susan Burke March
Physical Therapy (PT) as we know it today, dates back to ancient times. Physicians like Hippocrates and later Galen are believed to have been the first practitioners of physical therapy, advocating massage, manual therapy techniques and hydrotherapy to treat people as early as 460 BC.
The professional practice evolved in the U.S., precipitated by polio epidemics, and in treating soldiers returning from World War I and other conflicts in the early 20th century. Sent to military hospitals in France to institute early rehabilitation with wounded veterans, the therapists were called “reconstruction aids” and were the predecessors of today’s physical therapists.
The American Physical Therapy Association provides this definition:
Physical Therapists are evidence-based health care professionals who offer cost-effective treatment that improves mobility and relieves pain, reduces the need for surgery and prescription drugs, and allows patients to participate in a recovery plan designed for their specific needs.
Pain-free movement is crucial to our quality of daily life, allowing us to earn a living, to pursue our favorite leisure activities, and so much more.
The APTA notes that while surgery and prescription drugs can be the best course of treatment for certain diagnoses, there is increasing evidence demonstrating that conservative treatments like physical therapy can be equally effective (and cheaper) for many conditions.
Physical Therapy is today a global profession. Ecuador is a member of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, an organization founded in 1951 and representing more than 350,000 physical therapists. Ecuador is represented by the Federacion Ecuatoriana de Fisoterepia.
Physical Therapy in Cuenca: Bienestar Integral Fisio-terapía & Spa Clínico
Bienestar Integral Fisioterapía Estética Clínica provides patients with expertand advanced technologies in a coordinated approach.
Bienestar means “wellness” in Spanish, and led by Dr. Luis Rojas, orthopedic surgeon and traumatologist, Bienestar’s strategy is to integrate the best of all therapies into an individual’s treatment plan, and to provide patients with long term relief.
Rather that merely treating a patient’s symptoms, Bienestar assesses each individual’s underlying issues and problems, and recommend a coordinated treatment protocol, a far more effective method.
For example, following a sports injury, a patient might see Dr. Rojas, and if necessary, Dr. Rojas will complete a surgical repair. What follows can mean the difference between delayed or accelerated healing. Depending on the extent and type of injury and repair, Dr. Rojas might recommend orthopedic extra-corporeal shockwave therapy treatments to promote healing and to reduce pain — this treatment may often be suggested as an alternative to the surgery itself (see my previous article on shockwave therapy).
Physical Therapy and rehabilitation may be the treatment of choice for some injuries or following surgery, and Bienestar offers the highest caliber treatment options.
Daniela Aguilar, Physical Therapist, coordinates and delivers therapeutic physical therapy for patients at Bienestar Ingegral. Daniela obtained her degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Cuenca, and has been in practice for five years. She’s currently enrolled in the Escuela de Osteopatia de Madrid, working toward her medical degree, and sees patients Monday through Friday at the Bienestar Integral clinic.
Goals for PT are to promote movement, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Your physician may refer you to PT following surgery or examination. Daniela also takes appointments from patients seeking to benefit from physical therapy for improved motility and to treat and prevent age-related conditions.
Treatment plans are designed to both relieve the symptoms and to address and prevent further complications from the habits or behaviors that may be the root cause of the painful problem. For example, poor posture can become the source of severe back pain. Sitting incorrectly in front of your computer can lead to neck, back, and wrist injury. Traveling frequently and enduring hours of sitting can result in back pain. Lifting and carrying incorrectly can result in injury to muscles, joints, and/or spinal discs. One of the most common complaints is from sciatica, pain, numbness and tingling down the leg, a persistent problem for many patients. Physical therapy can be very effective in treating sciatica, and in helping prevent a recurrence.
Daniela will assess your posture, gait, and core strength, and use both manual exercises and equipment such as exercise balls, rollers, resistance bands, and hand grippers. She advocates and teaches effective stretching. The proper combination of equipment and prescribed exercises and activities are always based on each patient’s individual physical situation and specific needs.
Because Daniela understands more about your situation, she has a higher sensitivity to your challenges. As she points out, injuries and physical conditions almost always have a degree of anxiety and related stress associated with them, which may influence muscle tension and impact on the patient’s ability to heal and improve. Having a positive and trusting relationship with her patients is, she thinks, part of a successful treatment program.
Bienestar Integral offers a number of different modalities to treat pain and improve and hasten healing. Daniela may use other techniques such as electrotherapy, ultrasound (high-frequency waves that produce heat), hot packs, and ice, in addition to other treatments when appropriate.
Ultrasound: Ultrasound is a method of stimulating the tissue beneath the skin’s surface using very high frequency sound waves, between 800,000 Hz and 2,000,000 Hz, which cannot be heard by humans. Ultrasound stimulation is used for ligament sprains, muscle strains, tendonitis, joint inflammation, joint inflammation, plantar fasciitis, osteoarthritis, and scar tissue adhesion.
Electric Muscle Stimulation: Electric stimulation used to strengthen healthy muscle, prevent or reverse disuse atrophy, maintain or improve mobility, promote peripheral circulation and prevent fibrotic changes.
Pulsed Magnetic Therapy: Uses electromagnetic energy to promote tissue and bone regeneration.
Low level laser therapy: Also known as “cold laser therapy”, it may be useful and it is used here to reduce inflammation of tendons, muscle and nerves.
Physical Therapy Helps:
Improve mobility: Patients with trouble standing, walking or moving – regardless of age – can benefit from physical therapy, as well as those with chronic age-related conditions like spinal stenosis, and degenerative disk disease. Stretching and strengthening exercises help restore ability to move. Physical Therapists are also trained to fit people for wheelchairs, walkers, and canes.
Improve balance and prevent falls: In Daniela’s experience, PT is one of the most effective preventative measures we can take to prevent falls. Cuenca is a walking city, so it’s necessary to be secure on your feet — besides core strength, physical therapists also help you with exercises to improve coordination.
Avoid surgery: If physical therapy helps you eliminate pain or heal from an injury, surgery may not be needed. Low back pain is routinely over-treated despite abundant evidence that physical therapy is a cost-effective treatment. Even if surgery is required, you may benefit from pre-surgery physical therapy because you’re going in with more strength and flexibility.
Recovery from a stroke: Following a stroke, it’s typical to need to regain some degree of function and movement. Physical therapy helps strengthen weakened parts of the body and improve gait and balance.
Recovery from or prevent a sports injury: Various sports may increase risk for specific types of injuries (such as stress fractures for distance runners). Physical therapy has proven an effective treatment, and may reduce need for surgery for meniscal tears and knee osteoarthritis, rotator cuff tears.
Recovery from heart and lung disease: Following cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack or procedure, your doctor may recommend additional physical therapy to continue your recovery.
Children, to manage a medical condition, injury or movement problem: Daniela says that she works with children ranging from infants to adolescents. Children born with neurological issues such as cerebral palsy or who are recovering from surgery benefit from physical therapy.
Contact Bienestar for an hour-long consult for Physical Therapy ($25). If you decide on a treatment program, the cost is $180 for a ten-visit program, or $18 per visit.
Each hour-long follow-up appointment is designed to allow enough time to review current status, treat, and modify goals and home exercises as necessary.
Location: RemigioTamariz y Agustin Cueva, Edificio Santa Maria
Telephone: Local: 2810-854
Cell: 099-230-4454 / 099-935-8476
- American Physical Therapy Association: http://www.apta.org/
- World Confederation for Physical Therapy: http://www.wcpt.org/about
- Therapeutic ultrasound: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therapeutic_ultrasound#Physical_therapy
- Electrical muscle stimulation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_muscle_stimulation
- Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulsed_electromagnetic_field_therapy
- Low level laser therapy: http://physical-therapy.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/How-Physical-Therapists-Use-Laser-Therapy.aspx