Physical Therapy Options Available Locally
November 17, 2021
October was National Physical Therapy Month, and although the crew at Sweet Home Physical Therapy didn't have a celebration-so as to be mindful of the nursing home residents during flu season-they wish to remind Blaine County residents that their facility isn't just for the residents at Sweet Memorial Nursing Home.
With a remodel completed in early spring of 2020, the in-house physical therapy clinic, Sweet Home Physical Therapy (SHPT) offers both inpatient and outpatient care. The clinic includes a private treatment room, cardio and weight equipment, a bathroom, and an updated and improved gymnasium area.
April Taber, a licensed physical therapist who started working at SHPT in the fall of 2020, has a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Because she's not a medical doctor, however, she doesn't use the title Dr. Taber. "We're required to pass a national exam and to maintain Montana licensure with continuing education, but we're not technically allowed to call ourselves doctors," Taber explained.
Carmen Van Voast and Lindsey Obrecht are two licensed physical therapist (PT) assistants who also work at SHPT. Together with Taber, they diagnose and treat individuals of all ages who have medical or health-related conditions which limit their ability to move and perform functional activities. Therapeutic/sports injury massage is also available at the clinic.
"Even though we treat all ages, pediatrics cases are considered on a case by case basis," Taber said.
Taber went on to explain that PTs are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. "We deal with post-surgical patients as well as those who sustain an injury-whether from a fall or because of a work or sports-related incident. If you let the doctor know where you live, we will receive the referral directly. Once I receive a PT order through a physician's referral, I contact the patient. However, it sometimes takes two-three weeks to get a new patient on the schedule."
SHPT can take patients without a physician's referral if they are private pay, but that can get expensive without insurance assistance to pay for services, according to Taber.
Not only a professional with a DPT degree, Taber is also a Functional Dry Needling Practitioner. "That's not the same thing as an acupuncturist," she clarified. "Dry needling is a technique physical therapists use for the treatment of chronic pain and movement impairments."
The treatment involves inserting a thin filiform needle through the skin into muscular and connective tissues. With such a procedure, a physical therapist is able to target tissues that are not manually palpable. The technique is called "dry" because the needle is inserted without medication or injection.
Research suggests that dry needling releases tension or inactivates a trigger point to relieve pain or improve range of motion. A trigger point is a taut band of skeletal muscle located within a larger muscle group. These trigger points can be tender to the touch, and touching them may cause pain to other parts of the body. In addition to improving pain control and reducing muscle tension, dry needling normalizes dysfunctions of the motor end plates-the sites at which nerve impulses are transmitted to muscles.
"Such a procedure can help speed up the patient's return to active rehabilitation," Taber stated.
Taber also wishes to remind PT patients that with flu season upon us, the staff wants to be mindful of their nursing home residents and keep all germs outside the facility. "If you have flu-like symptoms, a cold, or even seasonal allergies, please reschedule your PT appointment. Let's be vigilant about keeping your germs at home."