In an athletic and active community such as Boulder, physical therapy after an injury could be a necessity for recovery. Luckily there are many different qualified and available places in the area for many different recovery treatments.

North Boulder Physical Therapy has an office in the Boulder Medical Center off Broadway and another office location off of Foothills Parkway.

"A lot of the students that come in have had surgery, or during ski season the injuries can be mainly from that sort of activity," said Debra Layne the owner of North Boulder Physical Therapy.

Other than those situations, reasons for physical therapy can vary widely.

Layne said that it really depends on the situation and doctors` advisories as to when one should turn to physical therapy.

"Some people come straight to us without a doctor`s prescription and some go to the doctor first," Layne said. "With physical therapy, the sooner the injury is dealt with the better."

With North Boulder Physical Therapy, as long as a student (or anyone else) has a copy of their insurance, the employees will help figure out whether or not physical therapy is covered.

On campus

Wardenburg Health Center, which is located on the University of Colorado campus, has a number of services available for students who are having issues with injuries.

The Musculoskeletal Injury Clinic (MSK) is a free service provided to students at Wardenburg and usually open from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The MSK provides free screenings for minor injuries involving muscles and joints. Basically, if you think you have a more serious injury such as an actual fracture or back or neck injury, those do not apply for this clinic. It`s more geared towards the strains, sprains, jams and twists that are less serious and require less serious services and care.

The MSK is not a treatment clinic because the appointments are only 15-minute assessment sessions. If the physicians believe you have a more serious injury, they`ll either refer you physical therapy or an orthopedist within Wardenburg if you have their Gold Plan insurance. (If not, they`ll bill you and you`ll have to deal with your personal insurance to get it covered.)

Or they`ll recommend you see a physical therapist or seek other services outside of Wardenburg.

"It`s great for questions about a tweak or injury over the weekends or something that has been bothering you for a while," said Jerri Miller, one of the six physical therapists at Wardenburg.

Not for everyone

Wardenburg`s sports medicine providers also offer cash services such as acupuncture, massage, custom orthodics program and chiropractic work.

"So much of what we do here is to educate students about access to health care," Miller said.

She also explained how so many students end up in the clinic because of starting activities they`ve never done before. As many students come from the "flatlands" then start hiking or trail running, overuse issues are something that are seen at Wardenburg a lot. As well as poor ergonomics, poor posture and repetitive motion injuries are among the common issues students have.

Again, only the school`s two insurance plans will cover any treatment at Wardenburg. Otherwise you`ll be billed by Wardenburg personally. The MSK clinic is free and the cash services are offered to all students.

'Back on the ice`

A torn PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) in her knee from a "stupid skateboarding accident" took 24-year-old CU graduate Courtney Pulver out of her passion of figure skating for six months. After not getting the answers she wanted from Wardenburg on campus and possibly re-injuring the leg when she tried to skate on it, Pulver finally sought physical therapy.

"I`m very stubborn," she said. "I probably went about eight months without doing anything about it. I kept re-injuring it while I was skating because the injured knee was on my landing leg."

Pulver went to physical therapy for four months in Boulder, and during her treatments did "basic re-strengthening" of her knee.

The graduate has been figure skating for 13 years now and competed at CU on the intercollegiate figure skating team and the CU synchronized ice skating team.

"It got me back on the ice to the level I was skating at before the accident," Pulver said.

Not for everyone

Physical therapy obviously isn`t for everyone`s healing process, but it can be recommended or prescribed by different physicians for different reasons.

Jane Milliff is the owner of Alta Physical Therapy in Boulder and gives this advice to students looking for physical therapy locations in the area:

"Web sites tell you a lot about the clinics because you can get a feel for what the place is actually like," she said. "Any therapist with more experience would be somebody I`d go to because they have a lot of tricks in their bag. Not any one technique works for everyone. It`s good to have a spectrum of treatment styles available to have your needs met."