Physical Therapy Services
Physical Therapists at DHMC hold either a Bachelor's, Master's or a Clinical Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy and have passed state licensure examinations.
They are assisted by Physical Therapist Assistants who hold associates degrees and state licensure. The Physical Therapy Section of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine is divided into In-patient and Outpatient divisions.
Inpatient physical therapy
Inpatient therapists service the needs of patients in orthopaedics, neuroscience, oncology, intensive care units, cardiac, general and vascular surgery, pediatrics, general psychology and medical specialties. Patients are seen for evaluation and treatment in their rooms or in the inpatient gym on level 2 (PDF).
Outpatient physical therapy
Outpatient services are located at the medical center. Referrals are accepted from physicians, physician assistants, osteopaths, chiropractors, nurse practitioners and dentists from both within DHMC and from outside. The outpatient staff treats a wide variety of conditions. Access within 24-48 hours of receipt of referral is available for patients with musculoskeletal diagnosis.
Some common reasons to see physical therapists at DHMC include: low back pain, neck pain, shoulder or arm problems, knee, ankle or foot problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, sprains and muscle strains, arthritis, rehabilitation after a serious injury, respiratory problems, stroke rehab, problems with balance, disabilities with children and newborns, hip fractures, incontinence and fitness-wellness education.
Clinics and special programs
Therapists at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center actively participate and staff many special services and clinics. All clinics are held in consultation with at least one physician and frequently several other health professionals. Some of these are listed below.
- Cystic Fibrosis Clinic - The role of the physical therapist at cystic fibrosis clinic is chiefly education of patients and their families. The physical therapist teaches the family the technique of chest physical therapy. This chest physical therapy becomes an integral part of a person's daily routine to keep lungs from blockages that may lead to infection. The musculoskeletal system is also evaluated with particular emphasis on cardiovascular fitness. Working in concert with the physicians, dietitian, nurse-coordinator and social worker, the patient with cystic fibrosis is taught and encouraged to maintain a healthy active lifestyle.
- Hemophilia Clinic - Physical therapy is part of the multidisciplinary Hemophilia Treatment Center at DHMC. We hold this clinic several times per year for patients from New Hampshire and Vermont. Research has shown that these clinics offer improved outcomes for patients with hemophilia. The physical therapist does an assessment and patient and family education, and designs exercise programs as needed.
- Wheelchair Clinic - An appropriate wheelchair plays a vital role in the degree of independence and quality of life of many patients. This clinic specializes in evaluating and recommending appropriate wheelchairs. The many special needs of patients makes ordering of equipment a challenge met by extensive problem solving.
- Orthopaedic Clinic - Held in the orthopaedic department, the therapist addresses the many musculoskeletal problems experienced by patients with a very wide variety of orthopedic disabilities. Many of these patients are then followed for a full therapy program through the outpatient physical therapy department.
- Spina Bifida Clinic - This clinic services children with spina bifida throughout New Hampshire. As with many of the clinics, the therapist provides recommendations on exercise programs, follow-up care near their home, orthotic and assistive devices, surgical intervention, equipment needs, school programs, etc.
- Sports Medicine Clinic - Daily sessions held in the Department of Orthopaedics to see sports injuries. An orthopedist, family practice MD and PT staff this clinic.
- Pool Therapy - A group pool therapy program is offered twice weekly at the Carter Witherall Community Building in Lebanon, NH. Provided for outpatients, the patient has a program designed specifically to address their physical impairment through the benefits of aquatic therapy.
- Work Capacity Evaluation - A work capacity evaluation is a detailed, objective evaluation of an injured worker's ability to return to work and is preformed in the Rehabilitation Medicine Dept. Worker injuries and conditions may include, but are not limited to: cumulative trauma disorders, neck, back and/or upper extremity pain or injury. Recommendations for the patient's return to work to the same or to a different job are made. Services may be coordinated with the employer, insurance company, referring physician, and vocational counselor.
- Work-site Analysis - Ergonomic job analysis is performed in various departments within DHMC. Assessment of high risk jobs or jobs of at-risk employees (including employees who have been previously injured on the job) are performed with recommendations of job modifications.
- Work-site Education - Work-site education includes: instruction for workers in methods of preventing work-related injuries, customized programs for specific jobs within a company or for individual companies, and instruction for managers regarding their role in preventing injuries. Education may be performed within various departments within DHMC or under some circumstances off-site at local businesses.