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We all know that visiting your physician for an annual physical is important for maintaining long-term health. Similarly, dental exams twice each year help ensure oral health throughout a lifetime. 

But, did you know that annual physical therapy check-ups provide the third critical (and often overlooked) component of long-term health and preventative care for people of all ages? 

As we observe National Physical Therapy Month each October, Pasco physical therapist Mindi Irvine notes that physical therapy exams focus on one’s ability to move freely and independently while living a safe and active life. 

“The primary focus of a physical therapist is the musculoskeletal system – the bones, joints, muscles and connective tissues that make it possible for you to not just move, but experience life on your own terms,” said Irvine, CEO and founding member of Oasis Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab in Pasco, Kennewick and Richland. 

“As a physical therapist, my job is to ensure this system is working optimally so limitations like strength, balance, flexibility, pain, and so on don’t stand in the way of a person’s quality of life.” 

Based on the results of a physical therapy “check-up,” a physical therapist is able to provide clients with individualized treatment plans and/or programs meant to help prevent future, movement-limiting problems. 

The goal of these assessments and related interventions is to ensure a high quality of life for those who wish to stay active and independent. As part of this, physical therapists are often able to identify issues that may lead to long-term health problems, such as pain, injury and disease. 

“Movement is medicine, and being able to stay physically active plays a huge role in disease prevention, managing chronic conditions and, in general, taking greater control of your health,” Irvine said. “We as physical therapists help people avoid pain, injury and other issues that could lead them toward becoming more sedentary and at greater risk of these types of issues.” 

According to the American Association of Physical Therapy (APTA), physical therapists are highly-skilled, licensed health care professionals who help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility. 

During a preventative check-up, a physical therapist will evaluate such things as movement and injury history, balance, aerobic capacity, functional strength, flexibility, and quality of movement (i.e., gait, reach, bending, etc.). 

In addition, a physical therapist will work with each person to address any personal limitations, weaknesses, pain or other impairments that may be holding them back from reaching lifestyle and movement goals. 

“We recommend that, just as with their personal physicians, people should see a physical therapist for a check-up once each year,” Irvine said. Physical therapy check-ups should also be considered: 

  • Whenever one experiences pain, discomfort or strain when doing an activity they enjoy. 
  • Whenever one is considering a new fitness or training program, or starting a new sport. 
  • Following the completion of post-surgery rehab, when trying to resume normal activities. 
  • Or, after any surgery or condition that has led to bed rest. 

For more information about annual physical therapy check-ups, contact the physical therapy team at Oasis Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab with questions or to schedule an evaluation.