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    House Call: Rehabilitation 101

    House Call: Rehabilitation 101

    A Special Q-and-A with Artesia General Hospital’s Dr. Corey May

    Artesia General Hospital recently welcomed Corey A. May, PT, DPT, to the rehabilitation department. Dr. May has been a physical therapist for more than 20 years and specializes in outpatient orthopedics, manual therapy, skilled nursing, aquatic therapy and home health rehabilitation. He treats a wide range of conditions ranging from lower back pain, neck pain and post-surgical knees and hips, to tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, Parkinson’s disease and frozen shoulder. Dr. May believes in prescribing exercise to facilitate healing—much like medication would be prescribed. Guided physical activity can accelerate recovery by providing optimal stimulus that repairs and regenerates injured areas.

    We recently sat down with Dr. May to learn about why rehabilitation is essential to reach optimal healing and what people can expect when physical therapy is part of their recovery.

    What’s the difference between physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT)?
    OT and PT are different forms of rehabilitation that often work closely with one another to help a person achieve their goals and regain their independence.
    In some settings, OT supports people with shoulder, elbow and wrist issues, while PT supports people with spine and orthopedic issues.

    OT often focuses on cognition and behavioral dysfunctions that hinder a person’s independence, while PT focuses on restoring proper gait, movement patterns, joint mobility, strength, range of motion, and eliminating pain while achieving desired functional activity.

    How does someone know if they need rehabilitation therapy?
    If a person has pain that is limiting their ability to bend, squat, climb, twist, carry, reach, sit, stand, walk or lift, then they may need PT or OT. If someone has difficulty swallowing, speaking, singing or talking, then they may need speech therapy.

    If an X-ray or MRI is negative, but a person is experiencing discomfort or pain, PT is usually prescribed to assist in recovery.

    Why is rehabilitation a vital part of recovery and healing?
    The optimal stimulus for the repair and regeneration of soft tissue (tendon, ligament or muscle) is modified—meaning pain free—tension placed along the lines of stress of the damaged tissue. PT and OT are in the best position to help a person recover from an injury and return to their ideal level of function and mobility.

    As a physical therapist, my goal is to assist each of my patients in a timely manner and to help them avoid surgery. But I understand that surgery is sometimes the best option. After a surgery, it is very important to use PT or OT services for optimal healing. Healing will take place in the absence of rehabilitation, but optimal healing will not. A healing process can take 365-500 days and rehabilitation is crucial to get the most out of this process.

    What are examples of how you approach a personalized treatment plan based on the individual and their unique condition?
    With each person it is important for the therapist to first determine all factors contributing to an injury or impediment. Sometimes the pain and dysfunction are direct, such as a strained hamstring. Sometimes they are indirect, such as a leg length discrepancy that creates a gait pattern that adversely affects that hamstring. Every patient I care for undergoes an evaluation process to help diagnose their particular issue. Together, we then have a mutual understanding of the problem, recovery goals and rehabilitation plan.

    How do you help patients feel comfortable and at ease?
    It is different for each clinician. I always make sure my patients fully understand their evaluation, diagnosis and path forward—education is key. Then I like to talk to them about the importance of what they can do to facilitate recovery, as well as what they should steer clear of at home that may hinder their progress.

    I am always genuine and transparent, even if that means communicating that the prognosis isn’t good. But no matter the situation, attempting to regain function through physical therapy is always a better option than doing nothing at all.

    What would you tell someone who feels defeated and thinks rehabilitation therapy isn’t worth it?
    Whether someone has had a bad experience or is worried about the unknown of physical therapy, I encourage them to try it again as each experience will be different. Give your clinician the opportunity to be great for you. Explain your reservations and your reasoning for feeling defeated. Once you start to improve, the faith in what you are doing will grow. Healing begins with self-belief.

    What’s one of the most important things you’d like readers to know?
    Healing is inside of you. Your body is constantly trying to repair itself. Try to assist your body by practicing healthy living. This includes exercising at a level that’s right for you, eating well and drinking water, getting proper sleep, and not smoking. When you have a deficit or injury that requires rehabilitation, I encourage you to attend all of your sessions and to show up on time. Take full advantage of the knowledge gained and improvements that come with consistently working with a professional.

    What is the most rewarding part of your job?
    Helping someone regain function and perform their daily activities is the most rewarding part of my job. It is emotionally and physically debilitating when you can’t live your life the way you see fit. Whether I’m helping someone play professional sports, return to work, or stand up on Sunday to sing in the church choir—empowering them to regain their lifestyle is why I get up for this every day.

    Learn more about Rehabilitation Services at Artesia General Hospital.