Monday, November 7, 2016

Techniques and Equipment Involved in Physical Therapy

The purpose of the blog is to identify common techniques and common equipment used in physical therapy to treat common injuries such as, a torn rotator cuff, pulled hamstring, and a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee. I am going to provide a brief informational view on how these injuries occur. Also, I will provide information on the length of recovery and how to prevent sustaining these types of injuries.
The rotator cuff is a group of arguably 4-5 muscles known as supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, subscapularis, and the teres minor. These 4 muscles help stabilize the shoulder joint and allow it to move. A common injury for the rotator cuff is a torn muscle tendon which occurs during vigorous, repetitive, overhead motion of the arm or shoulder.1 Jannega, a physical therapist, suggests using the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, & Elevation) technique to treat this type of injury to reduce pain and swelling.1 Once full mobility can occur without pain, stretching, dumbbells and resistance bands are common equipment used to regain strength and mobility of the rotator cuff. Depending on the severity of the injury, it can take 4-6 weeks to treat. The best way to prevent injury to the rotator cuff is to continue to develop strength and flexibility in these 4 muscles by varying the type of workout load place in the muscles and being cautious.
A pulled hamstring occurs to one or all three of the hamstring muscle group which consists of the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus. Injuries usually occur when excessive force is placed upon these muscles such as, sudden starts and stops during running, rapid change of direction, or jumping maneuvers.2 An injury like this is 2-6 times more likely to happen again.2 Care for a pulled hamstring needs to happen within the first 24-48 hours after injury.2 Treatment involves the RICE technique and the time of recovery usually takes 6-8 weeks, depending on the severity. A variety of equipment can be used in for the strengthening of this muscle group. For example, it can include a bike, hamstring curl machine, a treadmill, and a squat rack. Prevention of this injury can always include a proper warm up before activities, listening to your body, and practicing proper lifting techniques.

Christopher Bise says, 70% of ACL tears are the result in non-contact situations.3 Most people who sustain this injury usually require surgery but some people can avoid surgery simply by changing their physical activity.3 The ACL is one of the many ligaments that connect the femur to the tibia. This injury can happen if you twist your knee while keeping your foot planted, sudden stopping and starting while running, hyperextension, or a direct blow to the knee. Treatment will include electrical stimulation to the quadriceps, traditional muscle strengthening, and balance training.3 Icing and compression are used to reduce swelling and manage pain. Bracing will limit range of motion during activity to reduce chance of injury. Equipment for strengthening will include, a knee extension machine, slide board, squat rack, plyometrics (box jumps), balance balls, etc. There is a plethora of equipment that can be used in the rehabilitation of an ACL injury. Recovery length is dependent upon the person and the severity of the injury, but generally it takes about 4-6 months to recover.3 The best way(s) to prevent this type of injury would be to participate in programs that are designed to improve balance, strength, and sport performance along with strengthening your core.

In conclusion, I have discussed three different types of injuries, the techniques physical therapist uses for treatment, and the equipment used for rehabilitation. As well as adding the length of recovery for each injury. In my next blog, I will go into further detail about the exercises, the repetitions, and volume (work load) used for the rehabilitation of these type of injuries.


1Barta, K. (2016, May 13). 5 Exercises for Rotator Cuff Pain. Retrieved from Healthline:
2Bise, C. (2011, September 6). Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear. Retrieved from Move Forward:

3Stanley, L. (2013, February 8). Physical Therapist's Guide to Hamstring Injuries. Retrieved from Move Forward:

1 comment:

  1. Very informative article! I myself am studying to become a physical therapist. I have also spent a lot of time in a physical therapy lab myself. I have torn my rotator cuff and torn my ACL and MCL. this can be extremely helpful for those that have sustained one of the listed injuries and is wanting to look into what to expect during the rehabilitation process. Great read!