What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy (PT) is more than just walking, exercising and strengthening. Physical therapy can help you move, balance, and breathe better. PT’s focus on the body, muscles, joints and bones that help a person to move. They help individuals recovering from a stroke, knee/hip surgery, heart attack, fall and generalized weakness to regain strength and confidence while participating in meaningful daily tasks. Physical therapists will ask what tasks are challenging for the individual to complete and then identify muscle groups to strengthen and/or adaptations to make that task easier for the person to complete.

Physical therapists at CRMC work in many different practice settings. You can find our physical therapists in the ICU, COVID-19 units, ARU (acute rehab units), in patient acute care, outpatient, and home health care settings.

To date CRMC currently has 25 PT’s and 9 PTA’s working in a variety of settings. There are currently: seven full time PT’s in the inpatient acute care setting, two PTA’s, three full time PT’s on ARU and one PTA, three PT’s and 1 PTA for the outpatient settings. CRMC employs two full time Physical Therapists for home care in Cheyenne, one in Wheatland and two in Torrington. For PTA’s CRMC home health care has three in Cheyenne, one in Wheatland and two in Torrington. We also have more than eight PT and PTA as needed (PRN) staff members.

What is the difference between Physical Therapists (PT) and Physical Therapy Assistants (PTA’s)?

Physical therapists evaluate, assess, create a plan of care and complete a discharge and all documentation required. Physical therapists generally have a Masters or Doctorate degree. As of 2008 all PT’s were required to obtain their PTD (Physical Therapy Doctorate) degree. Physical Therapy Assistants usually have an associate or bachelor’s degree. They provide and guide daily treatment sessions and provide input to the plan of care.

What’s the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy (OT)?

Physical therapy focuses on the body: muscles, joints, inner ear, vision and balance components needed to successfully walk and complete daily tasks. Occupational therapy focuses on the functional and individual tasks components. Example: Physical therapy will help individuals to walk or balance better when walking in the grocery store or to the bathroom. Occupational therapists will help individuals to reach for and grasp items in the store or better manage or manipulate clothing up or down after utilizing the bathroom. Both disciplines discuss safety during these tasks and may make recommendations such as: using a four wheel walker with a cart and/or using a motorized cart for energy conservation in the grocery store. For the bathroom the physical therapists may recommend adding grab bars, practicing squats or leg exercises for improved balance and independence to get on/off the toilet. The Occupational Therapists may recommend a toilet riser, hygiene aid or other equipment to make the task of toileting easier. Often times Physical and Occupational therapists work as a team when helping individuals to recover

What happens in a physical therapy session?

This greatly depends on what the individual finds challenging in their daily routine. Physical therapists may focus on lower body leg exercises, bending, lifting and balance techniques. The physical therapist may ask the individual to demonstrate how they go up or down stairs, get in/out of a car or demonstrate picking something off of the floor. During this time the PT is watching for specific body mechanics and patterns. Is the individual lifting utilizing leg muscles or back muscles? Is the individual holding their breath while exercising?  Physical therapists can utilize visual, tactile or verbal cues to improve a mobility pattern and strengthen the individual’s muscles. Physical therapy sessions may begin with a warm up of stretching, a modality such as hot pack or simple walking. Physical therapist and assistants often apply hands on techniques to mobilize a particular muscle group or joint. This manipulation can be done through stretching, massaging or deep tissue work.

What are some areas that Physical Therapists / Physical therapy assistants can specialize in?

There are multiple areas that require special training and education that a PT/PTA can specialize in. At CRMC we have PT/PTA’s who specialize in the following treatment modalities: ultrasound, moist/dry heat, ice, trigger-point pressure, dry needling, soft-tissue oscillation, electrical stimulation, traction, biofeedback, lypmpoedema and taping. Utilizing these techniques in addition to stretching, strengthening and other in patient, outpatient and home therapy programs can help individuals to recover at a faster rate.

Getting to know our PT/PTA staff members through a few questions.

 What do you like most about being a PT or PTA?

  • “I like helping people. Its super rewarding to see people get stronger and live safer in their homes and know that you helped with that.” – Tiffany, IP, PTA
  • “I enjoy finding equipment for people who really need it. The senior center is a good resource for getting equipment for people who can’t afford to get their own equipment. I work with them often to make sure we can get things for people to help improve their quality of life.” – Tiffany, IP, PTA
  • “I enjoy improving my patient overall quality of life, thought movement.” – Brittany, PTA
  • “I enjoy helping people get stronger and regain their prior abilities.” – Tamara, PT, MSPT

What would you like your patients or our community to know about the services that you provide as a PT/PTA?

  • “I want the community to know PT can seem scary and difficult, but with the right therapist they will be so grateful for the options and protocols we offer.” – Jan Hofmann, PTA
  • “Physical therapists are the doctors of movement and we don’t cause pain. We really like to help patients understand their pain and give them way to better manage it though improving their function and movements. We want to see you move. We look to see any dysfunctional patterns and what risks they may cause. We discuss and implements strategies to prevent those risks from occurring.” – Brittany Maddox, PTA
  • “CRMC home care has a experienced caring therapy staff focused on improving strength, transfers, walking.” – Tamara M Rowden PT, MSPT