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Times of the Islands Magazine

What is Physical Therapy?

Apr 01, 2024 08:00AM ● By Katie Egan

Physical Therapy is offered at Coconut Point as well as in other locations around Lee County. Photo courtesy of Lee Health. Photo by Shane Antalick Photography.

Physical therapy is often thought of when we have a significant injury and need some help getting back to our daily activities and hobbies. However, physical therapists can treat a range of injuries and health conditions, including arthritis. But most importantly, physical therapy can help to improve a patient’s quality of life and range of motion, whether it’s performing everyday tasks, having the freedom to move around, or do simple things like play with your grandchildren, cook dinner or ride a bike. 

Orthopedic physical therapy focuses on treating conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system, which includes joints, muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. The musculoskeletal system gives the body its structure, support, enables movement, and helps people live a healthful lifestyle.  

What are my physical therapy options at the Lee Health Musculoskeletal Institute? 

Physical therapists are there from the beginning to diagnose and then treat people who have pain, loss of mobility, and a decrease in function and strength.  

Early intervention helps promote overall well-being sooner, minimizes long-term impact and can also help reduce recovery time.  

Lee Health’s Musculoskeletal Institute, and its therapy division, is dedicated to treating many common orthopedic injuries and conditions, including tendonitis, bursitis, muscle strains, ligament sprains, post-operative conditions, fractures, and joint and tissue pain in the Southwest Florida community. 

Pain and loss of function can stem directly from stiffness and motion limitations. Physical therapy frequently involves exercises to help the body recover lost movements and may include manual therapy and other physical modalities designed mobilize muscles and connective tissue, increasing function and mobility, and lessening pain.  

These treatments not only improve mobility, but also, coordination and muscle strength. The physical therapist will show the patient how to do the exercise and, once patients demonstrate they are on the right track, then they will be taught to perform the exercises and treatments themselves, in their own home. Additional visits to the therapist may be suggested to monitor progress and facilitate the patient’s return to an activity and sport. 

“We create patients’ treatment plans around their individual needs, challenges, and goals. We want to help them get back to their normal healthful routines and daily lives as quickly as possible,” said chief physician executive for the Lee Health Musculoskeletal Institute, Dr. Thomas Hunt. “It’s very rewarding to see patients regain their strength and function, and return to the activities they enjoy. It has a big impact on them, and we are happy to be a part of their healthcare journey.” 

Dr. Thomas Hunt, Chief Physician Executive at the Lee Health Musculoskeletal Institute. Photo courtesy of Lee Health.

Is virtual physical therapy an option? 

For some patients, online physical therapy called TeleRehab may be an option, especially as a means of diagnosis and to monitor progress after in-person visits. Lee Health experts offer a virtual solution to help connect patients with a therapist using a computer or mobile device.  

The therapist can review and update exercises with the patient during the visit or via email. The patient and the therapist will discuss progress, review exercises and the therapist can even demonstrate exercises and perform them with the patient.  

The Lee Health Musculoskeletal Institute also provides other high-quality, comprehensive rehabilitation services. For example, we have the largest group of certified hand therapists in the region who treat patients with hand and arm disorders ranging from simple to highly complex at multiple locations. 

“The Lee Health Musculoskeletal Institute provides collaborative healthcare in convenient locations throughout Southwest Florida,” said vice president of operations Duke Walker, who oversees the institute with Dr. Hunt. 

If you have concerns about your mobility changing, reach out to your primary care provider and find out how a physical therapist could help you. To learn more about all the options for support at Lee Health’s Musculoskeletal Institute, please visit  

Katie Egan is the media relations specialist for Lee Health.