The future of physical therapy will care for the whole person. Two developments, nutrition and the “fourth trimester,” support this assertion.
A number of physical therapists incorporate diet and nutrition counseling into their practice. Either they are registered dieticians, or they partner with dieticians. Nutrition counseling in physical therapy practice was even a subject at the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA’s) 2018 conference.
Nutrition impacts the recovery of physical therapy patients. Fundamental metabolic impacts of what people eat and imbibe can result in inflammation and sedentariness. Additionally, the conditions diabetes and osteoporosis, while being affected by diet, also affect patient recovery.
According to the APTA, physical therapists can screen for and provide information on diet and nutritional issues and how they impact patient conditions. Where appropriate, we may also refer patients to a nutrition professional, just as we refer patients to other medical professionals.
While nutrition, what goes into one’s body, falls under the purview of physical therapists, musculoskeletal conditions resulting from pregnancy also fall under our purview.
“Once Post-Partum, Always Post-Partum”
This is particularly important to note because some conditions resulting from pregnancy and childbirth can present as late as the 8th decade of life. That’s according to one podcast published in August. Hormonal and physical changes come on fast, starting from the first trimester. The period of extending from pregnancy onward is the fourth trimester.
The main musculoskeletal changes occur around the pelvic floor. Muscles there control bodily waste functions, and they affect the enjoyment of sexual intercourse. Another common “trauma” is the separation of abdominal muscles, diastasis recti. It causes pain and may cause bleeding.
Physical therapists help to reduce this pain and rehabilitate soft-tissue and dysfunction. In doing so, we can help patients avoid surgeries. We at Be Fit have experience treating women with diastasis recti. However, moms may alternatively seek help from of a number of specialists in musculoskeletal conditions related to pregnancy. Many have a social media presence on Twitter and Instagram.
The American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists coined the term fourth trimester and advocate specialty care during it. It is recommended that women get a comprehensive check-up no later than 12 weeks into the fourth trimester.