Physical therapy is a healthcare practice focused on the treatment, healing, and prevention of injuries or disabilities. It aims to help patients improve or restore their physical function and fitness level.
The purpose of physical therapy is not limited to people who have been in car accidents, on-the-job injuries, or slip-and-fall incidents. It extends to anyone needing rehabilitation, including those dealing with conditions that limit their regular ability to move and function.
Some key aspects of physical therapy include:
- Assessment and Diagnosis: Physical therapists begin by conducting a thorough evaluation of a patient’s condition. They assess the individual’s mobility, strength, flexibility, posture, and overall functional abilities. Based on their findings, they develop a diagnosis and formulate a personalized treatment plan.
- Treatment Techniques: Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to address patients’ specific needs. These may include therapeutic exercises to improve strength and flexibility, manual therapy to enhance joint and tissue mobility, and modalities such as heat, cold, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Rehabilitation and Recovery: Whether a person has suffered a sports injury, undergone surgery, or experienced a debilitating medical condition, physical therapy plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation and recovery process. The therapist guides the patient through progressive exercises and activities to regain function and independence.
- Pain Management: Physical therapy can be effective in managing and reducing pain associated with musculoskeletal conditions and chronic ailments. By addressing the root cause of the pain and promoting proper movement patterns, physical therapists can help individuals experience relief and improve their quality of life.
What if I Have Been Injured Due to Physical Therapy?
While physical therapy is generally safe, there are situations where it could lead to further injuries. If the physical therapist fails to provide the standard of care required in the profession, it could result in physical therapist malpractice.
Examples of this could include incorrect execution of exercises, not properly considering a patient’s medical history, or overexertion of the patient, leading to injuries. In some cases, it can also involve an incorrect prescription of therapeutic exercises or modalities that worsen the patient’s condition.
Incorrect Execution of Exercises
A patient recovering from a car accident has been referred to physical therapy to regain strength in their legs. During a session, the physical therapist instructs the patient to perform a certain leg exercise. However, the therapist does not properly demonstrate the exercise and does not supervise the patient’s initial attempts. As a result, the patient executes the exercise incorrectly and ends up tearing a muscle, causing further injury.
Not Properly Considering a Patient’s Medical History
A patient who has recently had on-the-job injuries and undergone surgery is referred to a physical therapist for rehabilitation. The therapist, failing to review the patient’s medical history and post-operative instructions thoroughly, prescribes an aggressive treatment plan. This plan includes exercises that put too much strain on the recently operated area. Consequently, the patient suffers complications, including severe pain and prolonged recovery time.
Overexertion of the Patient Leading to Injuries
A patient in physical therapy for a slipped disc from a slip and fall incident is encouraged by the physical therapist to push past their comfort levels in an attempt to speed up recovery. Despite the patient’s protests of increasing pain, the therapist continues to push for more strenuous exercises. Ultimately, the patient suffers a more severe injury to the spinal area, worsening their condition and lengthening their recovery time.
Incorrect Prescription of Therapeutic Exercises
An elderly patient with a history of osteoporosis is being treated by a physical therapist for general muscle weakness. The therapist prescribes high-impact exercises to improve strength. However, given the patient’s condition and bone fragility, these exercises were inappropriate and led to the patient suffering a fracture. This case represents an incorrect prescription of therapeutic exercises that worsened the patient’s condition.
What Are the Legal Remedies for Physical Therapist Malpractice?
If you have been injured due to physical therapist malpractice, you have the right to seek legal remedies for the harm you’ve suffered. This process typically involves filing a personal injury lawsuit against the therapist or their employer.
If you can demonstrate that the physical therapist breached their duty of care and that this breach caused your injury, you might be entitled to a monetary damages award. These damages can compensate you for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other losses you’ve experienced as a result of the malpractice.
In the case of the patient who suffered a more severe spinal injury due to overexertion during physical therapy, the patient now requires additional medical treatments, possibly even surgery, to treat the exacerbated injury. In order to recover these costs, the patient would need to prove that the actions of the physical therapist directly led to the additional injury, thus necessitating the increased medical care. Proving this might involve providing medical records, expert testimony, and evidence of the aggressive exercise regimen.
In the instance of the patient who suffered on-the-job injuries and had their recovery prolonged due to the therapist not properly considering their medical history, they might have had to take more time off work than originally anticipated.
To recover these lost wages, the patient would need to demonstrate that the prolonged recovery period, directly caused by the physical therapist’s actions, resulted in their inability to work and, therefore, loss of income. Evidence might include employment records, pay stubs, and medical documentation linking the extended recovery to the therapist’s decisions.
Pain and Suffering
The patient who sustained a leg muscle tear due to the incorrect execution of exercises might have experienced significant pain and emotional distress as a result of the injury and subsequent extended rehabilitation. To recover damages for pain and suffering, the patient would need to illustrate the physical pain and emotional turmoil they endured. This is often through personal testimony, documentation of therapy or mental health services, and testimonies from friends, family, or psychologists.
The elderly patient with osteoporosis who suffered a fracture due to an incorrect prescription of exercises might have experienced other losses as a result of their injury. For instance, they might have become less independent, requiring in-home care services or even needing to move to a care facility.
To recover these costs, the patient would need to show that the need for these additional services was directly caused by the injury suffered due to the therapist’s inappropriate exercise prescription. Evidence could include medical records, bills for home care services or residential care, and potentially testimony from a geriatric care specialist.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Physical Therapy Injury?
If you believe you have been a victim of physical therapist malpractice, it’s wise to consult with a personal injury lawyer. They can help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process. A lawyer will help you gather evidence, prove negligence, and argue for the maximum compensation you deserve. It’s especially crucial to hire a lawyer if your injury has led to significant financial losses or has severely affected your quality of life.
Through LegalMatch, you can find a personal injury lawyer near you who handles physical therapy malpractice cases and has a strong track record of representing clients like you. Don’t delay—reach out to a lawyer through LegalMatch today.