How Can Physical Therapy Help You? Feat. Guest Author, Amber Hayes, DPT

Hi everyone! We have Amber Hayes, DPT, as our guest author here today who is going to be talking about physical therapy, her practice in Watertown, and how physical therapy might be of benefit to you. Amber Hayes and Maryann Mancini are local Doctors of Physical Therapy and co-owners of Connect Physical Therapy in Watertown, CT. They are a dynamic team committed to providing educational, patient-centered, and multi-faceted solutions for their clients. I recently had the opportunity to write a guest post for their blog, and I was thrilled to have Amber write one for me as well. So enough from me, and I’ll let Amber take it away! Enjoy! -SP

The amount of pain in America is astonishing. The amount of people who believe pain is “normal” is even more shocking to me. My name is Dr. Amber Hayes, DPT, ITPT, CKTP. I am a physical therapist who co-owns and practices at Connect Physical Therapy LLC, located in Watertown, CT. My business partner, Dr. Maryann Mancini, DPT, OCS, ITPT and I believe physical therapy is a very viable treatment option for reducing pain, improving function, and increasing quality of life. With that being said you may ask:

  • Who are physical therapists and how can physical therapy really help me feel better?
  • What conditions can a physical therapist treat me for?
  • How do I get referred to a physical therapist?

Physical therapists are movement specialists, and we are well educated. Both Maryann and I have a post baccalaureate degree and Maryann even has an advanced certification, as an Orthopedic Certified Specialist. Both Maryann and I graduated from Quinnipiac University, academically excelling at the top of our class. We are both Impact Trained Physical Therapists, and I have a certification as a Certified Kinesiotape Practitioner. Maryann assists with teaching a graduate course in Quinnipiac’s Physician Assistant Program and both of us strive to stay current with evidence-based research and have taken multiple continuing education courses over the years.

Drs. Mancini & Hayes

As physical therapists, we are able to evaluate you specifically. A physical therapist will take you through a thorough examination of joint movements, strength testing, and balance assessments that are specific to your complaints in order to determine the root of your symptoms. Once examined, we are able to progress forward with treatment to start reducing pain and improving the impairments which were found during the initial evaluation. Maryann and I prescribe exercises (i.e. stretches and strengthening activities) which are right for you. Correct intensity, correct movements, correct stress level on the body.

Not only do we have you exercise, but equally important is that we use manual therapy skills to aid in pain reduction and progressing you towards improved function. We are able to use our hands to do things like: mobilize a joint, decrease limited joint mobility, improve postural alignment, or provide appropriate cuing during exercise performance to allow for completion without compensation. In less fancy words, our manual intervention can aid in decreasing pain and improving your function.

Maryann and I work to then educate our patients. Provide home exercise programs, explain anatomy and the possible reasons for a patient’s pain, and have a discussion of goals and expectations for physical therapy. We want our patients to feel better. We want them to feel at ease. We want them to move better and feel listened to and thoroughly care for. We want an open line of communication and a positive patient-therapist relationship.

Now to answer what conditions that we specially treat. Physical therapy is not just for people who have undergone surgical intervention. In the outpatient physical therapy setting we can see patients with a wide variety of chief complaints. As specialists in orthopedics, we assess, manage and treat injuries of the musculoskeletal system. We provide rehabilitation for surgery, acute and chronic injuries and injuries or disorders of the spine or joints of the body. You may think, “Wow, that’s a lot!” And you would be right.

As a few examples, we can treat: low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, ankle pain, headaches, scoliosis…basically any type of joint or muscle related pain. And remember, we thoroughly screen and examine you, so should we feel physical therapy is not the best treatment option we will refer you in the right direction. We truly believe in an interdisciplinary approach to healthcare for maximum outcomes.

Sometimes medical doctors may even send you for physical therapy prior to undergoing surgical intervention. This helps to optimize your mobility and strength prior to surgery in order to improve your post-surgical outcomes. Post-surgically, physical therapy is helpful. We educate you on your surgical precautions, progress you according to the stages of healing, and allow you to achieve your goals. We are always in direct contact with your surgeon, ensuring proper progression of their surgical protocol and updating them on your progress.

We also see sports related injuries and treat patients for impairments after sustaining concussion. Vertigo is also likely treatable with physical therapy intervention.

If you think your balance is off, but there is nothing you can do about it…you are wrong. Especially in the older patient population, we help to treat gait and balance dysfunction. Numerous factors can affect your ability to walk and maintain balance. We can assess where your impairments are and work towards improving them. We want you to remain safe and independent with your functional mobility!

Physical therapy can also be used to help manage acute and chronic pain through the use of manual therapy, modalities, and guided/appropriate exercise.

I firmly believe that physical therapy intervention is something that almost all, if not everyone, can benefit from. With that being said, how do you get referred? You can have a discussion with your medical doctor about the benefits of physical therapy, or you can even come to physical therapy through DIRECT ACCESS!

Direct access means that you are able to seek treatment from a physical therapist without first receiving a referral from a medical doctor. Most insurance plans allow this! After coming in for a full evaluation we will be able to determine if PT would be beneficial for you. Starting physical therapy through direct access can allow you to efficiently use your time and more quickly see improvement in your symptoms. We want you to view us as a lifelong provider for your musculoskeletal needs, not as single course of care providers.

We want to see you be happy and healthy. We believe this begins with building a relationship with your physical therapist to reduce pain and improve overall function.

Should you be interested in learning more about our practice you can email: or visit our website:

We offer free consultations and also have a Facebook Page:  

Thank you, Sarah for this wonderful opportunity to spread the word about the physical therapy profession!