Rebound physical therapist Tim Gross likes to remind his patients that the rehab process is not always linear.
“When recovering from an injury, it’s common for patients to experience some setbacks,” said Gross, who works at Rebound’s Bend East Clinic. “One of the most important parts of my job is encouraging patients to keep working toward physical progress in spite of difficulties.”
Physical therapists monitor a patient’s progress through measurements and tests — as well as provide feedback on which activities patients are (or aren’t) able to do, said Gross, who grew up in Bend’s endurance sport subculture Nordic skiing, bird hunting, trail running, cycling and mountain biking.
“Since the recovery process can be relatively slow, a lot of times patients will get frustrated if they don’t notice positive changes right away,” he explained. “But with the right treatment plan, small improvements over weeks and months will add up to substantial change.”
Gross tailors his treatment plans to his patient’s goals — whether that means returning to a sport or holding grandchildren. “It’s important for me to take the time to listen to and understand what my patient is going through and what is meaningful to them.”
His treatment methods include manual therapy, which Gross describes as a “vast number of techniques ranging from soft tissue mobilization to joint manipulation (a rapid movement that changes joint pressure, often causing an audible crack or pop).”
When manipulating a joint, his goal is not to change one’s skeletal alignment or structure, but to decrease pain and muscle guarding in areas of the body where muscles are tight and/or movement is restricted, said Gross, who is Manual Therapy Certified (MTC) through the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.
While the effects of manipulating a joint are often temporary, “it provides a window of opportunity during a treatment session to get the affected area moving,” he explained. Manual therapy can serve as a highly effective preparatory technique for PT exercises, allowing a patient to move through exercises more freely and with less pain, added Gross.
This approach can be highly effective when dealing with persistent pain, he said. With prolonged pain, “our body’s awareness of that tissue (muscle, joint, etc.) is out of calibration.” Manual therapy can help reprogram the affected area and tell the brain and nervous system that an affected body part can handle load (force on the body) through exercise — which is needed to stimulate healing, said Gross.
For Tim Gross, the combination of manual therapy and an individualized exercise program has proven to be a successful treatment method. During a PT session, “my goal is to get my patients feeling better than when they came in.”