Physical Therapy Screenings Enhance Health & Wellness

Blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, and body mass index are vital components of an annual wellness exam. It’s equally important to take a close look at the health and wellness of the joints, muscles and bones that support our bodies and allow us to move.

Physical therapy screening is a standard part of the annual wellness checkup for patients of Personal Medicine of Rochester. Screenings are conducted by the Atkin Center for Outpatient Rehabilitation at Jewish Senior Life, which provides a comprehensive range of physical, occupational, speech, and language therapies that help individuals regain independence and enhance their daily living abilities.

According to Maria Fitzpatrick, an occupational therapist and Director of Therapy for Jewish Senior Life, physical therapy assessments provide a baseline for making healthy improvements that patients and their doctor can compare over time. “They can also reveal mobility deficits and functional limitations that need attention,” she notes.

The screen takes less than one hour. Depending on a person’s responses to a brief written questionnaire, a physical therapist will conduct a series of tests looking at strength, balance, gait (how we walk), reflexes, and range of motion.

“A physical therapy evaluation can also be the significant first step towards prevention,” says Fitzpatrick. “Often, we can identify areas of reduced function or the causes of small aches or pain that could result in illness or injuries, such as falls, which are the leading cause of injury for adults ages 65 and older.”

More than 14 million adults—one in four—report falling every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Research has shown that strong muscles, flexible joints and good balance are effective at preventing falls and injuries from falls. Fitzpatrick concurs. “Falls can be prevented through physical activity,” she notes. “If, during the balance testing, we see that a person is at a higher risk, we can recommend strengthening and balancing activities.”

People of all ages benefit from physical therapy screenings.

Illness, injury, or lifestyle choices can cause joint pain or other limitations that keep people from enjoying daily activities or even performing simple tasks. “A person with chronic medical issues or who has had a recent injury, whether young or old, can benefit from specific exercises and activities to help them heal faster,” says Fitzpatrick.

Long hours spent working at the computer focused on screens and the repetitive motion of scrolling on phones can cause back, neck and shoulder pains and injuries of the hands and arms.

“Our physical therapist may observe subtle signs that a person isn’t even aware of that can impact their ability to move well over time,” says Fitzpatrick. Catching and correcting these habits and adapting work environments early can prevent a chronic condition or injury.

Results are provided promptly to patients and their primary care physician and will be reviewed in-depth at a follow-up appointment. Goals and specific recommendations will be incorporated into the annual wellness plan.

Beyond the annual screening, the physicians of Personal Medicine of Rochester refer patients for specialized assessments and personalized outpatient treatments, as needed, for acute health needs or other issues that arise over time.

The Atkin Center continues to invest in advanced technologies that combine modalities such as electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and software-based therapy programs to provide significant benefits for individuals affected by orthopedic injuries, traumatic brain injuries, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other nervous system disorders. “The results are impressive,” says Fitzpatrick.

At Personal Medicine of Rochester, our comprehensive annual health screening surpasses what is typically covered in an annual physical. Be sure to make the time for your physical therapy screening. It will be time well spent to keep you moving on your journey to good health.