Professional Rehabilitation Services, LLC

Physical Therapy is Shown to Help Patients with Clinical Depression
Troy, December 2016 – Physical therapy may do more than treat the aches and pains related to work-related orthopedic injuries, studies show it can help improve patients’ moods, too. Research has uncovered a link between pain and depression, suggesting that more than one-third of individuals with chronic back or neck pain also exhibit signs of depression.

Numerous studies conducted during the last 30 years have indicated that exercise can improve mood and mindset, even helping to peel back layers of depression. More recent research, including an article published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, suggests that feelings and thoughts of depression may subside with the introduction of physical therapy for back and neck pain.

Affecting more than 15 million Americans, clinical depression is one of the most common mental health conditions weighing on our country’s resources. Depression is more than the occasional bout of sadness; it interferes with normal functioning and daily life. Depression can occur alongside other medical conditions such as diabetes or Parkinson’s disease, but can also occur because of a major life event such as a work-related injury or a death in the family. Experts now understand that medical conditions can enhance the symptoms of depression, and vice versa.

In the Wideman et al study, 40% of the patients studied exhibited decreased feelings and thoughts of depression following physical therapy treatment to address pain and functional limitations from a work-related orthopedic injury. One year after treatment, those showing signs of improvement on the depression front were more likely to have returned to work and to report less pain intensity. Conversely, the individuals who did not exhibit improvements in depressed feelings were less likely to have returned to work.

Proper identification of people exhibiting the signs and symptoms of depression can improve their chances for success in physical therapy. To give patients the best chance to succeed in treatment, physical therapists can often identify signs of depression based on screening tests and patient evaluations. Symptoms of depression may improve for patients receiving treatment designed to decrease pain and improve function, but others may require specialized treatment for depression symptoms in addition to physical therapy. A physical therapist may refer patients with unresolved symptoms of depression to another healthcare provider for appropriate management and treatment.

Depression is a real illness, one that requires proper treatment and attention. The condition, one that can worsen alongside the prognosis of chronic back or neck pain, often goes undiagnosed and untreated. Physical therapy can have a positive impact on patients with depression, both by capturing those who suffer and helping to lessen the symptoms and burden of disease.

About Professional Rehabilitation Services, LLC
Professional Rehab is a privately owned clinic that has been serving Lincoln County for over 40 years. We take pride in the quality of care we provide and that we are able to put the patient experience at the center of our practice. Our therapists have over 65 years of combined experience treating all types of conditions related to neurologic and orthopaedic conditions; it is this experience that gives us the ability to quickly identify the cause of problems, create a personalized plan for course of treatment, or refer you to the appropriate physician. As a privately owned practice, we allow our therapists the freedom to take the time and the resources available they need to comprehensively treat every patient the see.

About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association
Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit


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