Chiropractic, physical therapy work together to heal Soldiers

By Katherine Rosario, Lyster Army Health Clinic Public AffairsNovember 7, 2013

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FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 7, 2013) -- The chiropractic and physical therapy departments at Lyster Army Health Clinic recently combined efforts to accelerate Soldiers' recovery time after injuries.

Both departments often see the same Soldier for his or her injury and are now able to work as a team to determine the best treatment plan.

"Both professions address human performance and injury care and prevention, so having the staff from both departments perform their complimentary modalities in treatment only seemed natural," said Col. James Laterza, commander of LAHC.

At the chiropractic clinic, Dr. Jerry Jones sees about 260 Soldiers a week for pain related to the neck, back, and joints of the arms and legs.

Chiropractic care is popular among Soldiers because it is a holistic approach to medicine that doesn't require the use of prescription drugs, a big plus for those who are afraid of being grounded from flying.

All active-duty Soldiers are eligible to receive care at the chiropractic clinic as long as they obtain a referral from their primary care doctor.

"At Lyster Army Health Clinic, when appropriate, both chiropractic and physical therapy are utilized together. Many times there is a synergetic effect that allows both specialties to offer a more inclusive treatment plan that can speed healing and minimize long term effects," Jones said.

On the physical therapy side, Soldiers receive an in-depth evaluation of the injured region, their functional movements and surrounding muscle groups. A treatment plan is then prescribed that includes stretching, strengthening and improvements in biomechanics.

"In the physical therapy clinic, we evaluate neuromuscular pain and injuries as it relates to daily activity," said Capt. Alisha Harvey, chief of the physical therapy clinic at LAHC. "Not every issue is able to be treated with adjustments and we offer the manual therapy aspect (mobilizations and manipulations similar to chiropractors) as well as exercises to aid the patient in making a lifelong adjustment."

The goals of physical therapy, she said, is to have patients become independent with their therapeutic program and include it in their overall exercise routine.

Treatments last from four weeks to eight months depending on the condition and limitations of the patient's injury.

Combined chiropractic and physical therapy treatments are most often done for chronic neck or back pain, she said.

"By combining these two important care practices, we can engage the patient in both active (physical therapy) and passive (chiropractic) care and minimize the need for medications," Jones said. "Our goal is to return the patients to their normal activities as soon as possible."

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