Physical therapy is a medical practice that aims to preserve, improve, and restore the movement, mobility, and physical function of a patient after a surgery, injury, illness, accident, or disease. Physical therapists utilize specialized exercises, massages, education, training, and assistive devices to aid patients in rehabilitation. There are several types of tools that physical therapists use to help patients heal and recover. Here are 10 pieces of equipment commonly used in physical therapy.
One of the most common tools physical therapists use with patients is exercise balls. This piece of equipment has a diverse range of uses which allows patients to strengthen multiple different muscles. You can utilize exercise balls for stretching, preventing back pain, muscle strengthening, and improving posture. Physical therapists will walk patients through a series of exercises with the exercise ball to help them during their physical therapy practice. For example, patients may perform planks, leg curls, straight leg bridges, push-ups, and other exercises to train various muscle groups.
Resistance bands are another essential piece of equipment used in physical therapy. Resistance bands are either thin rubber tubes or flat pieces of elastic that patients use for resistance training. These bands are perfect for improving muscle strength, function, and mobility. Physical therapists use these bands to help patients target different muscle groups with various exercises. Some examples of resistance band exercises include squats, lateral raises, chest presses, leg presses, seated calf presses, tricep presses, and bicep curls. Resistance bands also come in various levels of resistance based on the needs of individual patients.
The third item that patients use during physical therapy to strengthen muscles is dumbbells. Physical therapists will often have patients use dumbbells after certain injuries to strengthen specific parts of the body that have lost muscle strength. You can use dumbbells to exercise the chest, back, arms, shoulders, abdomen, and legs. In physical therapy, you typically will use lightweight dumbbells because injuries cause you not to be able to lift too much weight at once. So 5-pound or 10-pound dumbbells are often ideal for physical therapy patients.
Weighted Medicine Balls
Much like dumbbells, weighted medicine balls are weights that you can use during the physical rehabilitation process. After surgeries and injuries, physical therapists will aid patients in exercises that utilize weighted medicine balls. Patients use these pieces of equipment to strengthen muscle groups and increase their overall strength and mobility. For example, say a patient is recovering from a knee injury. A physical therapist will guide them through exercises where they may place the medicine ball between their feet, and the patient will bend their knees to lift the ball.
The fifth tool commonly used in physical therapy is foam rollers. Foam rollers are lightweight cylinders made of foam that you can use to perform deep tissue massages on patients during physical therapy. The benefits of foam rolling include inflammation relief, muscle knot release, and improvement of a patient’s overall physical comfort. Foam rollers also increase a patient’s range of motion, mobility, and flexibility. This tool can even boost lymphatic flow and overall circulation within the body. Physical therapists will often have patients use foam rollers before and after other physical therapy exercises.
Flex bars are another helpful physical therapy tool. This piece of physical therapy equipment is the perfect solution for patients suffering from elbow, arm, hand, or shoulder injuries. Flex bars are cylinders made of flexible rubber that help improve motor control and increase tendon strength. These physical therapy tools also come in multiple different resistance levels depending on the particular needs and injuries of a patient. For example, if a patient needs to work up to higher resistance, then a physical therapist would have them start out with a light resistance flex bar.
The seventh tool that physical therapists commonly use with patients is balance boards. These pieces of equipment are great for improving balance, coordination, stability, and muscle strength. Physical therapists will walk their patients through a series of exercises using the balance board. For example, a patient may perform planks using the balance board to increase abdominal strength and overall balance.
Exercise bikes are another beneficial piece of equipment during the physical rehabilitation process. Physical therapists will often utilize exercise bikes for patients suffering from a stroke, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries, or other neurological conditions that impair regular motor skill function. The use of exercise bikes helps reduce symptoms of injuries or illness and helps to increase a patient’s overall motor control and mobility.
Physical therapists also often utilize treatment tables in their practice. Treatment tables offer a stable foundation for physical therapists to perform various treatments, exercises, and deep-tissue massages on their patients. The specific uses of these tables will vary depending on the individual patient. These diverse tools allow physical therapists to make the most of their practice. The treatment that patients receive on these tables is beneficial to their physical recovery because it improves mobility and motor function.
Cuff weights are the final tool that benefits patients and their healing during physical therapy. Weighted cuffs are a type of weight that patients are able to strap around their arms or legs, typically at the wrists or ankles. Physical therapists use weighted cuffs in their practice much in the same way that they utilize lightweight dumbbells. A physical therapist will walk through different exercises with their patients using the weighted cuffs to improve and increase strength, balance, mobility, and overall physical function. These weights are very helpful in the rehabilitation process and help to target specific muscle groups after surgeries, injuries, or accidents.
Now that you know the 10 common tools used in physical therapy, you can begin implementing these items into your practice today. Be sure to check out American Hospital Supply’s selection of rehabilitation therapy equipment to utilize in your therapeutic practice.