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Physical therapy is a health care profession that assists individuals in regaining or improving motion, strength, functional mobility, balance and gait as well as promoting a maximal level of independence. Physical therapy (PT) is also a primary role-player in the recovery and treatment of sports-related injuries; motor vehicle accident injuries; pain management; postural problems, including those related to pregnancy, and in work-related injuries.

A typical evaluation consists of the PT taking an extensive history as to the cause of the problem(s) presented. The therapist takes the time to listen to all of your complaints and concerns, finding out when and how they started. It is important in all settings, to understand the patient's current and past level of function, as the set goals are usually to return a patient to that level, or as close as possible, with skilled PT services. If the problem is work-related, the therapist will review your present job requirements and may also make suggestions for work-station modifications when indicated.

If you are not working, it is still important to consider home activities: cleaning, washing the laundry, providing child care, walking the dog, completing yard-work, performing hobbies (sewing, crafting, playing computer games/internet chat, etc.). These activities may contribute to the problem in a way of which the patient may not be aware. Early intervention of PT, in the case of a sports-related injury, often allows a return to the specific sport much sooner than otherwise expected. As work-related injuries are becoming more common, oftentimes a simple work-station evaluation or assessment will provide immediate suggestions to improving posture and reducing muscle strain and repetition, decreasing the risk of further injury.

Physical therapists are skilled health care professionals who enter the field with a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree. A physical therapist assistant enters with an associate's degree. Both must undergo clinical experience and then must pass a national exam in order to practice in each individual state. PT studies the anatomy and physiology of the body, with an emphasis on functional movement and physiological effects of illness and injury.

The therapists at NARH are active within the Northern Berkshire community. They provide posture and work-station assessments at local colleges, answer questions and educate the public on a local radio station (WNAW), speak with children at local schools to educate them on basic health fitness, participate in local health fairs, and discuss risks and prevention at local congestive heart failure support groups.

Physical therapists at North Adams Regional Hospital work in both acute care and outpatient settings, and are available for treatment or evaluations from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. If you feel as though you may require a physical therapy evaluation for a particular ailment, injury or loss of function, you will need to be assessed by your physician and have the doctor refer you to a physical therapist for an evaluation.

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