Whilst it may be true that there is a vast difference between mental and physical health problems, it is also a proven fact that exercise and various aspects of physical therapy can be very helpful for those suffering from issues of the mind. We all know and understand why approved physical therapy and exercise can make us feel better and healthier than before, but this article undercovers the lesser known truth behind the connection of this type of activity and mental health treatment and recovery. Before we start, let’s just pause for thought and think about the incredible services to mankind that mental health professionals render and let’s give them the thanks and respect that they undoubtedly deserve.
Physical therapy 101
For those who have yet to engage in physical therapy, this form of exercise is usually carefully designed for each individual and depends on their actual condition as to what activity is required. For the likes of sporting injuries and post operation recovery, physical therapy is vital for overcoming these potentially permanently damaging issues. Each set of exercises is usually centred on the limb or joints or area that needs the most attention and in order to get the best out of this therapy, you must adhere to the instructions as closely as possible. Your body requires this specialist attention if it is to make that complete recovery in a suitable timeframe. Even though your bones and muscles may eventually heal, if they do so without the correct set of exercises as part of the process, it may be impossible to ever reach those levels of fitness and coordination ever again.
Why physical therapy for mental health patients?
So although it may seem a little odd to look to physical therapy for mental health patients, it has been part and parcel of this treatment for some time and with some excellent results. Mental health teams are usually made up of specialists that work in a number of fields that include physicians, mental health therapists and physical therapists. These healthcare professionals all have a vital role to play and they must also have a solid relationship with both the patient and his or her family. As far as the physical side of therapy for mental health is concerned, this can be misunderstood, but without these team players, the recovery process would be seriously hampered.
Here we look at some of the known benefits of physical therapy for mental health patients:
• Endorphin release to the brain – This scientific fact adds weight to the argument because endorphins make us feel happier and generally improves our mood and sense of wellbeing.
• Self-Esteem – After a bout of physical exercise, it is quite natural to feel good about ourselves. Associated weight loss and muscle growth are also connected to this important feeling.
• Reduces fatigue – The fitter we feel, then the less likely we are to feel sluggish and tired throughout the day. Burning off some calories for 30 mins or more regularly is the absolute best way to shake off that lazy feeling.
• Participation – If you can get your friends and family to join you in some physical activity, then even better. By sharing this important therapy with your nearest and dearest, your mental health will continue to prosper.
• Achievement – Setting reachable objectives and goals are a vital part of any recovery process and by adding some physical therapy into the mix, you can start feeling much better at managing life once more.
• Cognitive function – This important ability can be improved by taking regular bouts of exercise, your coordination improves as does your cognitive set of skills.
• Sleep quality – Lack of sleep has long since been one of the reasons for poor mental health. Some vigorous exercise is really just what the doctor ordered and will help you to hit those sleep targets each and every single night.
Role of a physical therapist in treating a mental disorder
Okay, so we have looked at some of the great benefits of physical therapy for mental health patients but how would a therapist be able to design the best possible program for each student? Here we have broken down the 5 key elements that a qualified physical therapist needs to apply when treating a mental health patient effectively:
• Baseline – Each new patient should be carefully assessed and a new plan needs to be built on their personal level of fitness. The physical and mental health should be considered and a goal needs to be set that can be reached within a realistic timeline.
• Exercises – Some exercises may be better for one patient than another and these exertions are key to that reaching that road to recovery. Look at the age, sex and fitness level of each patient and also the type of mental health issues that they are currently facing before deciding on the best exercise regime.
• Consultant – Not only will the physical therapist be responsible for significantly aiding the overall mental health of the patient, they should also act as a fitness consultant all the way through the recovery program.
• Mobility issues – These need to be addressed carefully and factored into the overall recovery program. If they are affecting the individual’s ability to train, then steps to address these areas must be taken.
• Medicine – It is known that some drugs can have a negative effect on the way that individuals can move and exercise. These need to be fully investigated before the treatment begins. Patient safety is paramount and only a certified physical therapist should be trusted with this responsibility.
So there we have it. These are the main reasons why a physical therapist thoroughly deserves their place on the team of mental health patient recovery without whose help it might be difficult to get the best and optimum results.
Author : Dr. Vidhi Jain, Physiotherapist
Nominated as ‘Best Physiotherapy Consultant’ in Noida, Dr.Vidhi Jain has over 7 years of experience as a Physiotherapist. She is currently practicing at Vinayak Physiotherapy in Noida as HOD of the Physiotherapy Department. She also writes for Medlife International Private Limited, an online pharmacy store operating in India.
Edited by : Nivedita Dey, Owner – Editor, Take Care Dear Mind.
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