Physical Therapy Techniques – The Use of Modalities

Physical therapy techniques employs different modalities to address and relieve medical conditions that includes pain reduction, improve range of motion, decrease swelling, increase the speed of healing and to stabilize body parts that needs support.

For the purposes of physical therapy techniques, these are the modalities which are commonly used.

Cryotherapy or cold therapy is one of the physical therapy techniques which are effective in the reduction of inflammation caused by an injury or an accident.   The applied cold will reduce blood flowing into the injury and will reduce bleeding and the oxygen demand of the tissue injured.  Reducing the temperature will also reduce the muscle spasms and the anesthetic effect of the cold will help ease the pain.

Thermotherapy or heat therapy is another of the physical therapy techniques that can be used after the swelling of the injury has gone down.  Heat is applied to the injured body part using heat packs, hot water bath, infrared lamp or conversion.   With heat, blood flow to the injured area increases and it can also reduce muscle spasms, wash out metabolic wastes and increase the level of oxygen to the tissues.

The use of electrical stimulation is one of the useful physical therapy techniques since it can restore muscle tone in stimulating muscles to rhythmically contract.  Physical therapy techniques like this is often used for an injured patient who has been bed-ridden for a long period of time.  Electrical stimulation is helpful is preventing muscular atrophy and reduces the therapy regime that will be required for the patient to fully recover from the injury.  Ionotophoresis is a procedure wherein electricity is used to apply the medication through the skin and into the injured tissues.  A machine called TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is used to apply the electric current through the skin and into the injured tissues to stop the pain.

Mechanical manipulation is also one of the most common physical therapy techniques used by physical therapists.  This is where massage, traction, manipulation of an injured limb, and weight lifting comes in.  Massage is one of the physical therapy techniques done manually. It involves rubbing or kneading the injured area to increase the circulation of the blood and to alleviate the pain.  Manipulation works to restore the full range of motion of a limb and to ensure patient’s movement without pain.

With the various forms of modalities used as physical therapy techniques, the physical therapist must ensure that the correct combination of modalities is used.

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