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Physical therapists help people of all ages and abilities reduce pain, improve or restore mobility, and stay active and fit throughout life. But there are some common misconceptions that can often discourage those who need treatment from accessing physical therapist who specialize in the care people need. OurHealth Richmond spoke with local physical therapists along with experts from the American Physical Therapy Association to debunk five common myths about the medical specialty.

MYTH: Physical therapy does not help back pain. Time and rest are the only solutions that help. FACT: Physical therapy can greatly improve back pain, and too much rest can actually slow recovery.


Patients who come to physical therapy for back pain have often tried rest, and are hesitant to start therapy because of belief in this common myth. However, this way of thinking has not held up to extensive research on the treatment of low back pain. Not only that, it may make things worse for the patient in the long run. Currently, low back pain is the leading cause of activity limitation and work absence throughout much of the world. It’s estimated that up to 36 percent of people will experience an episode of low back pain in a one year period and 24 to 33 percent will experience a recurrent episode that same year. At the same time, the way low back pain is treated has changed significantly over the past several decades.

mobility to the spine. While it is true that excessive exercise or exercises done with poor form can strain the back, when used properly, therapeutic exercises are a powerful and natural tool for recovery and an important part of the plan of care for a patient suffering from low back pain.

While rest from strenuous activities is a good idea, acute low back pain can be eased much quicker with gentle, active movement. A physical therapist (PT) uses therapeutic exercise and what is called neuromuscular re-education (a technique to bring back normal movement) to help the body recover and restore

Samuel Waagen, PT, DPT, OCS

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In addition, a PT can help provide gentle and effective manual therapy techniques (highly specialized techniques done with the hands) to alleviate pain and allow for greater mobility. Manual therapy and therapeutic exercises are a powerful combination in improving even the most stubborn cases of low back pain.

Bon Secours Physical Therapy Richmond | 804.325.8822


MYTH: Surgery or medication are my only options for female pelvic conditions. FACT: Physical therapy in conjunction with other solutions can lead to better recovery.

Certain diagnoses can have musculoskeletal (bone and muscle) involvement. For example, in endometriosis, a patient may have severe pelvic pain, along with connective tissue and muscular restrictions in all of the muscles around the pelvis as a result of that pain. In most cases, if the endometrial tissue is removed via laparoscopic surgery, but the soft tissue restrictions remain, pain will not go away. PFPTs can often identify and remove soft tissue restrictions, adhesions between organs, and restore normal mobility of the abdomen and pelvis. In those cases, physical therapy along with surgery tends to be the best way to help people achieve optimal recovery.

problem, but it is important to have improved muscular control and function. Research has shown that physical therapy prior to and after surgery improves patient outcomes as well as reduces the need for future surgery.

Myths & Misconceptions

Pelvic floor physical therapy (PFPT) can be a great first intervention or alternative to medication or surgery for many conditions including pelvic pain, incontinence, constipation, pelvic organ prolapse, and/or back pain. PFPT is a specialty practice in which a physical therapist has additional training to concentrate in abdominal and pelvic conditions.

Constipation is a good example of a common condition that most people treat with medication, however, pelvic floor muscle tightness can be a cause or effect of chronic constipation and can be addressed with pelvic floor physical therapy. Physical therapy can help retrain individuals to improve their digestion and evacuation more naturally. The same muscles can also influence your urinary control and sexual function. PFPTs work with your doctor to optimize your recovery—a balance of medication, behavioral training, nutrition, and pelvic floor retraining. Casey Smith, PT, DPT, CSCS Women’s Health Physical Therapy Richmond | 804.282.3500

PFPTs usually work very closely with surgeons and urogynecologists. Surgery can correct an anatomical

MYTH: Physical therapy is only for injuries and accidents.

FACT: Physical therapists do a lot more than just stretch or strengthen weak muscles after an injury or surgery. Physical therapists are skilled at evaluating and diagnosing potential problems before they lead to more serious injuries or disabling conditions – from carpal tunnel syndrome and frozen shoulder, to chronic headaches and lower back pain, to name a few. American Physical Therapy Association

MYTH: Physical therapy is painful. FACT: Physical therapists seek to minimize your pain and discomfort—including chronic or long-term pain. Physical therapists work within your pain threshold to help you heal, and restore movement and function. A survey conducted by the American Physical Therapy Association, found that although 71% of people who have never visited a physical therapist think physical therapy is painful, that number significantly decreases among patients who have seen a physical therapist in the past year. American Physical Therapy Association




MYTH: Physical therapy isn’t covered by insurance.

FACT: Most insurance

policies cover some form of physical therapy. Beyond insurance coverage, physical therapy has proven to reduce costs by helping people avoid unnecessary imaging scans, surgery, or prescription drugs. Physical therapy can also lower costs by helping patients avoid falls or by addressing conditions before they become chronic. American Physical Therapy Association

EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS Casey Smith, PT, DPT, CSCS with Woment’s Health Physical Thearpy. Samuel Waagen, PT, DPT, OCS with Bon Secours Physical Therapy.

SOURCE American Physical Therapy Association –


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The main difference between occupational therapy and both physical therapy and speech pathology is that patients need an occupational therapist (OT) to help them function with their everyday tasks (their occupations). OT and OT assistants help patients of all ages participate in daily activities, and can work with patients in their own homes, or at work or school.




Therapy is often a part of the recovery process for patients who are impacted by a long-term illness, injury, or other medical condition. So, what are the types of therapy treatment available for patients, how are they different, and what does each entail?

PHYSICAL THERAPISTS Physical therapists (PT) are licensed healthcare professionals who help patients alleviate pain and improve or restore mobility, usually without medications or surgery. PTs work with individuals who have mobility challenges related to a wide variety of conditions including but not limited to: Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Scoliosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and Cancer. Those who suffer from balance problems or other chronic conditions may also require physical therapy. Patients who have injured their jaw, wrist, arm, shoulder, hip, back, knee, foot, ankle, Achilles tendon, or some other muscle may also seek services from a PT in order to resume normal activity with as little pain as possible. PTs work with patients in hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, nursing homes and other environments. They create individualized treatment plans and techniques for patients who may be suffering from pain or limited movement due to injuries, and also work to develop wellness programs to help patients lead healthier, more active lifestyles.

cook or drive again after a stroke.

Speech-language pathologists are trained individuals who help diagnose and treat patients with such disorders and other ailments related to speech that can affect both children and adults. Certain patients may need treatment for various speech and language disorders. Speech challenges could occur when a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice or resonance. Other patients, meanwhile, may have troubles understanding a language when someone speaks, or have difficulties expressing their own thoughts, feelings or ideas. Speech-language pathologists also work with patients who have issues with social communication. These include patients on the autism spectrum as well as those who may have suffered a traumatic brain injury. Cognitive-communication conditions include difficulties with organizing one’s thoughts or having trouble remembering things, paying attention, or solving problems. These are often the result of a stroke, brain injury, or dementia. Patients who suffer from a stroke, have just had surgery, or sustained another illness or injury may have challenges with feeding and swallowing and need a speech-language pathologist to assist with these needs as well. Roughly half of speech-language pathologists work in educational settings, providing services to students particularly in preschool and elementary schools. Speech-language pathologists may also work in hospitals or other healthcare environments to treat patients with cognitive-communication and language disorders and/or swallowing problems.


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What’s the Difference


According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA), OTs often accommodate children with disabilities in school or social situations, help individuals recovering from injury regain their skills, and provide support and services to senior citizens experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Each patient has a customized treatment program to improve their ability to perform daily activities, with OTs also offering guidance and support to family members and caregivers. OTs can also, for example, assist clients with hobbies such as playing the guitar or knitting; help them return to work after an injury or chronic illness; and learn how to




Advanced Orthopaedics Richmond | 804.497.2583 Midlothian | 804.320.4064

Advanced Physical Therapy Midlothian | 804.560.9575

BON SECOURS Bon Secours Physical Therapy and Sports Performance at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center Richmond | 804.325.8812

Colonial Heights Health Care Center Colonial Heights | 804.526.6851

Richmond | 804.616.3946

Bon Secours Physical Therapy at Memorial Regional Medical Center Mechanicsville | 804.442.3670

Chippenham Hospital Richmond | 804.483.0000

Dinwiddie Health & Rehab Center N. Dinwiddie | 804.518.0780

Advanced Wellness Centre


DuVal Integrative Physical Therapy Mechanicsville | 804.789.1180

Henrico Doctors’ Hospital Richmond | 804.289.4747

John Randolph Medical Center Hopewell | 804.541.1600

Alliance Physical Therapy Richmond | 804.288.3025

Ashland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Ashland | 804.798.3291

Ashland Physical Therapy Ashland | 804.798.1112

Autumn Care of Mechanicsville Mechanicsville | 804.728.0821

Bon Secours Physical Therapy at Patterson Avenue Richmond | 804.285.6818

Johnston-Willis Hospital

Elizabeth Adam Crump Health and Rehab Glen Allen | 804.672.8725

Bon Secours Physical Therapy at Rapphannock General Hospital Kilmarnock | 804.435.8501

Midlothian | 804.325.8822

Beaufont Health & Rehabilitation Center

Parham Doctors’ Hospital Richmond 804.747-5661 and Richmond 804.747.5783

Envoy of Westover Hills, Richmond Richmond | 804.231.0231

Bon Secours Physical Therapy at Westchester Medical Park

Richmond | 804.330.2000

Rehabilitation Center at Parham Doctors’ Hospital Richmond | 804.545.4952

Face 2 Face Speech North Chesterfield | 804.677.6966 *pediatric patients only

Retreat Doctors’ Hospital Richmond | 804.254.5586

Focus Physical Therapy Henrico | 804.372.8000

Richmond | 804.272.2918

Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Petersburg Petersburg | 804.504.8203

Beth Sholom Richmond | 804.750.2183

Bonview Rehabilitation and Healthcare

Fox Therapy Center, PLLC

Richmond | 804.320.7901

Richmond | 804.446.2654 *pediatric patients only

Center For Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, PC

Glenburnie Rehabilitation & Nursing Center

Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Virginia Richmond | 804.288.5700

Glen Allen | 804.747.7472 Richmond | 804.523.4634

Richmond | 804.281.3500

Heartland ManorCare – Imperial Richmond | 804.262.7364

Chesterfield Physical Therapy Midlothian | 804.378.9968


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Hanover Health & Rehabilitation Center Mechanicsville | 804.559.5030

ICON KEY Physical Therapy Out – Patient

Speech Therapy

Occupational Therapy

Facilities listed in this guide were obtained through online search engine research using related specialty services terms. If your facility is not listed, it is because it did not appear in the results.

Heartland ManorCare – Richmond

Richmond | 804.285.0148

Henrico Health & Rehabilitation Center Highland Springs 804.737.0172

Hopewell Health Care Center Hopewell | 804.458.6325

OrthoVirginia Physical Therapy Chippenham | Farmville Hanover Memorial Regional Henrico Parham | Johnston-Willis Kilmarnock | Prince George Shrader Road | St. Francis Hospital St. Francis Medical Pavilion St. Mary’s 804.285.2645

InMotion Physical Therapy

Pivot Physical Therapy Continued...

River View on the Appomattox Health & Rehab Center

Powhatan | 804.598.2100 Richmond (John Rolfe) 804.754.0916 Richmond (Laburnum) 804.222.0745 Richmond (Wadsworth) 804.323.7874 Richmond (Scott’s Add.) 804.342.5857 Richmond (Patterson) 804.288.1380 *occupational therapy services available in select locations

Hopewell | 804.541.8445

Physical Medicine Center Richmond | 804.282.6953

Richmond | 804.756.8490

Our Lady of Hope Richmond | 804.360.1960

Integrate Physical Therapy Richmond and N. Chesterfield 804.303.4961

James River Physical Therapy

Parham Health & Rehabilitation Center Richmond | 804.264.9185

N. Chesterfield | 804.330.0936

King William Physical Therapy Aylett | 804.769.7504

Performance Physical Therapy & Sports Training

Physical Therapy Solutions Glen Allen | 804.716.0457 Mechanicsville | 804.569.1787 Richmond | 804.840.0845

ProCare Physical Therapy Chesterfield | 804.706.1803 Manakin-Sabot | 804.784.7090 Midlothian | 804.794.7587 *speech therapy services available in select locations

Mechanicsville | 804.723.5904

2017 Resource Guide

Richmond | 804.266.9666

Orthopedic Physical Therapy

Roberts Physical Therapy Richmond | 804.747.0003

RVA Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab Glen Allen | 804.396.6753

Select Physical Therapy Ashland | 804.798.9870 Chesterfield | 804.717.2145 Colonial Heights | 804.524.0533 Gayton Crossing| 804.747.4417 Mechanicsville | 804.559.2900 West End | 804.965.9990

Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Centers 12 Locations throughout the greater Richmond area Inpatient Services 804.764.1000 Outpatient | 804.764.1001

Progress Physical Therapy Lakewood Richmond | 804.729.5563

Lawrence Rehabilitation – The Gait Center

Glen Allen | 804.270.7754

Physical Therapy & Wellness of Richmond Jennifer M. Hays, M.P.T. 10442 Ridgefield Parkway Henrico | 804.325.1483

Rehabilitation Associates, PC Richmond | 800.568.9269 *pediatric patients only

Richmond | 804.523.2653

Pivot Physical Therapy Mike Kilo Physical Therapy Chester | 804.425.4545

MVP Therapy & Sports Medicine Midlothian |804.464.2323 West End | 804.729.4117

Chester | 804.796.1518 Colonial Heights | 804.524.9036 Glen Allen (Brook Rd) 804.550.5730 Glen Allen (W. Broad) 804.217.9213 Manakin-Sabot | 804.784.7090 Mechanicsville | 804.569.7091 Midlothian (Brandermill) 804.639.2359 Midlothian (Westchester) 804.858.0220

Restore PT Richmond | 804.644.1221

Southside Regional Medical Center Colonial Heights | 804.526.1352 Petersburg | 804.765.6660

Richmond Physical Therapy Corporation

Speech Smarts

Richmond | 804.340.1193

Richmond | 804.726.2906


Physical Therapy In – Patient


Speech Connections Henrico | 804.446.4022 *pediatric patients only

VCU VCU Health at Stony Point 9109 Stony Point | 804.323.0830

Spot on Therapy Group Richmond | 804.893.5010 *pediatric patients only

The Rehabilitation and Research Center at VCU Downtown Richmond 800.762.6161


Summit Square Retirement Community Waynesboro | 800.586.5499

The NOW Center at VCU Henrico | 804.360.4NOW (4669)

Sunnyside Retirement Community



VCU Sports Medicine Richmond | 804.828.0713

Harrisonburg | 800.237.2257

Talk, LC Richmond | 804.440.1489 *pediatric patients only

The Laurels of Bon Air Richmond | 804.521.9980

The Laurels of University Park Richmond | 804.747.9200

The Laurels of Willow Creek Midlothian | 804.379.4771

Thrive Physical Therapy

Virginia Center for Spine & Sports Therapy Midlothian | 804.249.8277

Virginia Sports Medicine & Physical Therapy Richmond | 804.527.1463

Virginia Urology Richmond | 804.330.9105

Westport Rehabilitation & Nursing Center Richmond | 804.287.8600

Richmond | 804.320.2220

Treehouse Pediatric Therapy

Women’s Health Physical Therapy & Men’s Pelvic Health Richmond | 804.282.3500

Midlothian | 804.794.7337 *pediatric patients only

Tyler’s Retreat at Iron Bridge Chester | 804.413.6508

Tuckahoe Orthopaedics Richmond | 804.285.2300


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Physical Therapy Resource Guide from the Jul/Aug Edition of OurHealth Richmond  
Physical Therapy Resource Guide from the Jul/Aug Edition of OurHealth Richmond