Physical Therapy and Assessment
The development of rehabilitation programs for brain-injured persons is a complex and multi-disciplinary effort. Physical therapy is the aspect of rehabilitation that focuses on the restoration of functional mobility, as well as ongoing promotion of health and wellness. The incorporation of physical therapy within an individualized plan of care is designed to maximize each client’s physical potential to allow for the highest degree of functional independence and community integration.
A physical therapist assesses each individual’s physical function, strength, balance, range of motion and flexibility, coordination, balance and stability, endurance, posture, breathing pattern, coordination and motor control, as well as safety awareness, executive function, sequencing and motor planning.
- Improved balance and stability
- Improved cardiovascular endurance and cardiopulmonary function
- Improved flexibility and range of motion
- Improved strength, power and motor control
- Improved motor planning and coordination
- Improved functional mobility such as ambulation, stair negotiation, transfers or bed mobility
- Increased functional independence within the home and community
- Reduced risk of falls
- Improved overall health and wellness
- Increased knowledge of safety and self-awareness
Goals of treatment vary between each individual and may include transfers, bed mobility, sitting or standing balance, postural control, gait, stair negotiation, wheelchair management, etc. Treatment interventions include neuromuscular re-education, strengthening to improve motor control, stretching for range of motion and flexibility, coordination and balance re-training, cardiovascular endurance training, instruction in proper use of assistive devices, dual task and divided attention training, and education on postural alignment and stability. Techniques utilized may include modality application, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), neurodevelopmental treatment (NDT), and vestibular rehabilitation techniques. The physical therapist also collaborates with wheelchair specialists and orthotists for ongoing assessment and management of equipment and orthotics/prosthetics. There has also been a recent growth in the use of alternative therapy approaches including yoga, tai chi, and pilates.
One of the most prominent components of a client’s physical therapy program is education. The physical therapist works closely with the person served and their family to educate through each phase of rehabilitation. Education includes home exercise programs, postural awareness and positioning, home set-up to maximize safety, proper use of assistive devices, etc.