Physical Therapy Is For Everyone!

Physical therapists are highly trained health care professionals. They are experts in human movement who are trained to evaluate and treat all kinds of musculoskeletal issues with exercise and other techniques. Everyone moves and everyone can benefit from exercise, so physical therapists can help people through their entire lives!

Physical Therapy for Children

Physical therapists start treating some people very shortly after birth. Common reasons a baby might need PT include torticollis and cerebral palsy. Torticollis is a postural issue caused by a tight neck muscle. Babies with torticollis hold their heads tipped to one side. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that causes difficulty with movement and coordination.

As children get older, some have trouble hitting their motor milestones – think of these as the “firsts” – sitting up, rolling over, crawling, standing, and walking. Physical therapists can help here too, using their expertise to help develop motor skills and coordination to get these children back on track.

Physical Therapy for Adolescents

In adolescents, sports injuries become more common. Whether it’s an ankle sprain, or an ACL surgery, a PT can help. The rapid growth in adolescents can cause issues too. Things like growth plate fractures, growing pains, Osgood-Schlatter’s disease, and Sever’s disease are all common in adolescence and are related to the changes the body is going through.

Physical Therapy for Adults

As adults, a lot of us will have back pain – studies say up to 80% of us. Physical therapy is one of the first treatments recommended for back pain. Physical therapists also see adults for injuries – maybe from weekend warrior type sports injuries, overuse, or from an accident at work. Some adults also start to show symptoms of diseases like multiple sclerosis, or myositis which also benefit from physical therapy.

Physical Therapy for Older Adults

Later in life, people tend to have more health issues that impact their ability to move. Things like arthritis, joint replacements, strokes, and heart attacks are all things a PT can help with. Physical therapists also help people age better – keeping them moving with exercise programs that help reduce falls, or helping them make adaptations and modifications to keep them in their homes safely.

Movement is a constant in life. As movement experts, PTs can help people of any age. Some specialize in treating pediatric patients, and some specialize in treating geriatric patients, but all PTs have the expertise to help people move better.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/facts.html
PT for pediatric ataxia – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31392562/
Adult in workplace – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32270086/
Adult myopathy (an example of something treated for adults, not geriatrics necessarily) – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31115788/
The Role of a Physical Therapist in Healthy Aging – https://www.ncoa.org/article/the-role-of-a-physical-therapist-in-healthy-aging
How Physical Therapists Can View Normal Versus Abnormal Aging – https://www.foxrehab.org/pt-impact-older-adults-optimal-function/

Don’t Keep Injury Secrets!

Physical therapists are experts in dealing with injuries, but your PT can’t help if they don’t know about your injury!

You might be wondering who would keep an injury secret. The answer is – lots of people!

The first thing that comes to your mind might be an athlete, like a football player, or maybe a baseball pitcher. But athletes aren’t the only ones that keep injury secrets. Performers like dancers keep injury secrets, and so do workers in all types of jobs.

Why would anyone want to keep their injury secret instead of getting it treated and letting it heal? Read on…

Stigma
Although there have been big improvements in the culture around sports, performing arts, and worker’s comp, some people still have the old “no pain, no gain” attitude. To some people, reporting an injury is an act of weakness, or a way of letting the team down.

There can also be external pressure from coaches, parents, teammates, supervisors, or fans to keep playing or working.

Fear of Loss
With the focus on head injuries in recent years, athletes that get hit in the head know if they report concussion symptoms, they’re coming out of the game. Workers who get hurt on the job fear loss of pay, or loss of their job. Performers who get hurt might fear that their replacement will outshine them on the stage and take their place.

Competitive Advantage
While the first two reasons can apply to athletes, performers, workers and most any other group that might be hiding an injury, this one is limited to athletes. If an opposing team knows a player is injured, and what the injury is, they might be able to take advantage of it. For example, if a football team has a running quarterback that has an ankle injury, it will change how the opposing defense plays.

These reasons all make some sense, but they’re also all shortsighted. Finishing a game, dancing tomorrow night, or working one more shift are never worth your long term health. Hiding a minor injury can turn it into a major one. It’s never weak to report an injury and you’re not letting your teammates, or coworkers down. If you’re not up to your best, you owe it to the people counting on you to let them know. Letting a healthy player, performer, or worker take your place is the right thing to do. If you’re injured, don’t hide it! Let the right people know, then go to the right person for help – your physical therapist!

PT – Not Just For Adults

When you think of physical therapy you might think of an injured athlete, someone recovering from surgery, or someone with a chronic medical problem. We’re here to let you know that you should think of kids, too. Physical therapists are trained to work with patients of any age. Some even specialize in pediatrics. Here are a few things PTs can help kids with:

Coordination Disorders and Gross Motor Delays

Some children are delayed in hitting their gross motor milestones – things like sitting up on their own, rolling, standing, walking, jumping and running. Other children show difficulty with coordination – activities like hand motions to “wheels on the bus”, feeding themselves with utensils, moving awkwardly or slowly, or even tripping or bumping into things a lot. Physical therapists can help encourage development of gross motor skills and coordination to help these kids get back on track.

Cerebral Palsy

This is the most common motor disability in childhood. The symptoms can vary from moving a little awkwardly to being unable to walk and needing assistance for almost all activities. There are also different types – the most common causes stiffness in the muscles, but other types affect control of movements, balance or coordination. No matter the type or severity of cerebral palsy, a physical therapist can help with things like stretching, exercise, bracing, and equipment like a wheelchair if needed.

Torticollis

Torticollis is a postural issue that usually becomes noticeable shortly after birth. Babies with torticollis typically hold their heads tipped one direction and rotated towards the opposite side. This is caused by a tight neck muscle. Research has shown that early referral to a physical therapist is a very effective treatment. The PT usually shows the baby’s caregivers ways to gently stretch the neck, and activities to encourage the baby to move his or her head into a more neutral position.

Pelvic Floor Issues

People don’t commonly think of pelvic floor issues in children, but you might be surprised at how common they are. The most common symptom is chronic constipation, but pelvic floor problems can also show up as urinary incontinence, bed wetting, or needing to go to the bathroom frequently. A physical therapist can help with education for the child and their family, exercise, and sometimes even the use of biofeedback to help the child learn to better control their pelvic floor muscles.

Pain and Injuries

Although kids have a list of problems specific to them, don’t forget about regular old pain and injuries. Your physical therapist can treat an ankle sprain, painful joint, or athletic injury in a child just like they can an adult.

Sometimes kids and even babies need some help with movement. From now on, when you think of your physical therapist, don’t leave kids out of the picture!

References

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/facts.html
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29087112/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30277962/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31096249/
https://pediatricapta.org/consumers/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fq62vwyrcXs

Elevate Your Heart Rate With Physical Therapy

Heart disease is a leading cause of death and disability. This shouldn’t be a surprise – it’s been at the top of the list for years. You know that taking care of your heart is important. That means doing things like eating right, avoiding smoking, and exercising regularly. While all of those things can be difficult, today we’re going to focus on exercise.

How Physical Therapy Can Help With Your Heart Health

Cardiovascular exercise is anything that makes you breathe harder and your heart pump faster. That could be walking, running, dancing, biking, swimming or hiking. It strengthens your heart and blood vessels. It can help control weight, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and prevent heart disease.

If you’re regularly going for a run or swimming laps, you don’t need help from your PT. But 3 out of 4 adults aren’t exercising regularly. If you’d like to get started, your PT may be just the person to help you. It’s not uncommon to get injured, then never get back to your old routine. Your PT can help you deal with the old injury and design a plan to get you safely back to regular activity.

It’s also not uncommon to try to be more active on your own, only to stir up pain somewhere like your back, hip, knee or shoulder. Your PT can help with that too. They’ll figure out why you’re having pain, help you correct it, and get you a plan to reach your goals.

Physical therapists can also help you safely increase your activity levels after major medical issues like a heart attack, stroke, or even cancer. Recent research has shown improvements in cardiovascular fitness, fatigue levels and even pain in cancer patients who participate in a personalized physical fitness plan from a PT.

Whatever your barriers to physical activity are, your PT can likely help you overcome them. As movement experts, physical therapists are trained to deal with a variety of conditions. They’ll help you work around whatever issues you have so you can safely elevate your heart rate and keep cardiovascular disease away.

Stay Connected With Your PT Through Telehealth

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for a lot of bad stuff. But, if you look really hard and maybe squint just right, there are a few less-than-terrible things to be found. The pandemic forced society to quickly adapt. It pushed forward the adoption of new technologies like Zoom and new ways of doing things, like working from home. There were changes in rules, regulations, and payment related to telehealth. A lot of patients and providers experienced their first virtual health appointment in the past 2 years, and many of them see the benefits. The pandemic forced the telehealth genie from the bottle. Now that patients and providers have seen the benefits, it’s not going back.

Why telehealth is here to stay

Telehealth isn’t going to replace in-person rehab, but it’s likely going to complement it heavily. Research has shown that telehealth is as effective as in-person rehab for a lot of conditions. It’s also shown high satisfaction rates from patients – up to 94% in some studies. For a lot of people, telehealth makes sense. Think about people trapped at home because of a snowstorm or those who are at high risk of falling on the ice. Before the wide adoption of telehealth, these patients didn’t get to see their PT during the winter. Now, they can stay connected virtually and continue healing through the bad weather. Telehealth can also work well for busy people. Patients can check in or have a visit with their PT on their lunch break, or while their kids are at practice.

Where telehealth could go

Even though there have been big advances in telehealth, we’re still in the early phases. It’s hard to predict how telehealth will be used in the future and how it will evolve, but expect it to look a lot different in 5 years. The software being used for telehealth will continue to get better. Expect a more engaging user experience with educational content and maybe some gamification – levels to achieve, points or badges to collect, or some other metric. Hardware will also continue to advance. Maybe the fitness tracker you already have will integrate into your telehealth app, letting your PT track your activity, heart rate, and other metrics. Remote stethoscopes, scales and other medical equipment already exist and will continue to become more common as prices decline.

While telehealth has certainly seen a big advance because of the pandemic, most people still see it as an adjunct to in-person visits. Right now, telehealth tends to be used because it’s more convenient than a visit in real life, not because it’s better. With advances in software platforms and hardware options, telehealth could evolve into something just as good as in person rehab that makes high quality rehab available to everyone.

Expect to Get Better. You Probably Will.

Research has shown that positive expectations increase the chances of a good outcome. It’s the old self-fulfilling prophecy; your attitude determines your approach to situations. If you believe you’ll be successful, you’ll likely put in more effort. You’ll be more willing to try new things, take some risks and keep trying after failures or setbacks. A negative attitude will likely mean that you’ll take your first failure or setback as confirmation that what you’re trying won’t work or isn’t possible and you’ll give up. Why waste time and effort on something that’s doomed to failure anyway?

Your Expectations Influence Your Results

There’s some research to prove that positive thinking and expectations make a difference in rehab settings too. A review of 23 articles looking at outcomes for shoulder pain found a few interesting things. First, patients who expected to recover and believed that they had some control of the outcome, ended up doing better than those who didn’t. Second, optimistic patients were found to have less pain and disability after completing rehab. Third, patients who believed they’d have pain and disability after surgery tended to have – you guessed it – pain and disability after their surgery. Research says that you tend to get what you expect.

So Do Your Therapist’s

Your attitude is important, but what about your therapist’s? There isn’t much research specific to PT, but there is a study done in elementary schools that might give us some clues. Two psychologists – Rosenthal and Jacobs did a study showing that teacher expectations had an influence on student performance. They told teachers that randomly selected students in their classes were tested and found to be “late bloomers”. These students were expected to show large improvements in academic performance during the school year. When the students were tested 8 months later, the students the teachers believed would improve the most, did.

Why? When teachers think students have a lot of potential to improve, they hold them to higher standards. They teach more complex materials, don’t settle for simplistic answers and are more willing to spend time instructing and working with those students. It’s pretty easy to see how this could cross over into a PT clinic. If your PT thinks you can get better, they’ll probably put more effort into designing your program, spend more time with you and push you harder than someone they don’t believe has a lot of room for improvement.

To have the best chance for a good outcome, you and your therapist both need to expect one. You probably will.

References
● De Baets L, Matheve T, Meeus M, Struyf F, Timmermans A. The influence of cognitions, emotions and behavioral factors on treatment outcomes in musculoskeletal shoulder pain: a systematic review. Clin Rehabil. 2019 Jun;33(6):980-991. doi: 10.1177/0269215519831056. Epub 2019 Feb 22. PMID: 30791696.
● Rosenthal, R, and L. Jacobsen. Pygmalion in the classroom: teacher expectation and pupils’ intellectual development. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968.

TRICARE Thinks PT is so Valuable, They’re Covering the Whole Cost!

TRICARE, one of the nation’s largest insurers wants their members to get physical therapy for
back pain. They think that treating back pain with PT is so important that they’re willing to waive
the cost to their members. That’s a huge deal. When’s the last time you remember an insurance
company covering the entire cost of anything? Let’s dive into back pain treatments and see why
TRICARE likes PT so much.


You probably already know that back pain is a common problem. What you might not know is
that the medical system isn’t very good at treating it. “Non-drug treatments like physical therapy”
are the first treatment recommended for back pain. Unfortunately, many providers don’t follow
this and treatments are often recommended based on opinion rather than research. This means
insurance companies and patients often end up spending a lot of money for outcomes that are
less than stellar.


Here’s how it usually goes: You go see your doctor with back pain. They might give you
medication, recommend rest, some stretches, send you for x-rays or an MRI. Next will likely be
a referral to a specialist like an orthopedic surgeon. Chances are you won’t be having surgery
right away, so the specialist will either refer you to PT, or back to your PCP where you’ll end up
with a PT referral. The path will look different for each person, but the end result is usually the
same – multiple failed treatments, imaging you probably didn’t need and a delay of weeks or
months to get to a physical therapist.


Multiple large studies have looked at the effects of early physical therapy on low back pain with
impressive results. One of them was done in 2006 in Seattle by Virginia Mason Health Center.
They teamed up with Aetna and Starbucks to send workers with back pain to see both a
physical therapist and physician for their first treatment. Use of MRI dropped by 1/3, people got
better faster, missed less work and were more satisfied with their care. The cost savings was so
great, that Virgina Mason was losing money on treating back pain and Aetna ended up paying
them more for PT treatments because Aetna was saving so much money.


Intel ran a similar program with their employees, getting people with back pain to a PT within 48
hours. Previously it took about 19 days for people to get to a PT. With the earlier access,
patients completed their care in 21 days, compared with 52 days previously and costs dropped
between 10 and 30%. Intel also found more satisfaction with care and a faster return to work.


The data is out there that proves physical therapy is the cheapest and most effective treatment
for most people’s low back pain. It’s clear that people with back pain should start treatment with
their physical therapist, but most don’t. TRICARE’s pilot program that waives copays for up to
three PT visits aims to change that. If successful it will lead to lower costs for both TRICARE
and their members while delivering better outcomes in less time.

80% of Americans Experience Back Pain, But 100% of PTs Know How to Prevent It

Got back pain? You’re not alone. Eighty percent of Americans suffer from low back and neck pain at some point in their lives. Let that sink in. With such great odds that you—or someone close to you—will one day become a statistic, wouldn’t it make sense to arm yourself with preventive strategies and knowledge? Physical therapy is a good place to start.
By performing a thorough evaluation, a physical therapist can identify the muscular, postural and skeletal limitations that could one day lead to an episode of back pain. As part of the assessment, she will observe as you perform a series of exercises and then gather an account of your daily activity level and environmental factors like operating machinery or working at a desk 40 hours a week.
The PT will then use all of this knowledge to design a personalized exercise program and teach you a few APT-approved strategies to prevent back pain:
Use good body positioning at work, home and during recreational activities.
Keep the load close to your body during lifting.
Ask for help before lifting heavy objects.
Maintain a regular physical fitness regimen— staying active can help to prevent injuries.

Lifestyle can play a big role in back pain. In fact, inactivity and incorrect body mechanics while participating in certain activities are two of the biggest contributors to back pain. In addition to the strategies listed above, it’s also helpful to pay attention to little things throughout your day. That could add up to bigger problems down the line. Let’s go back to that desk job for a minute: How often do you get up to walk, stretch and move throughout the day? A good rule of thumb is to stand up or move every 30 minutes. You may get bonus points with your boss, too, as your productivity soars due to the increased activity.
While low back pain rarely becomes serious or life-threatening, it can be quite painful and interfere with our daily lives. Working with a physical therapist can help patients identify the factors that might contribute to back pain and help to develop a prevention plan. But the healthcare professionals are also a great place to turn when you’re seeking treatment for back pain or hoping to prevent a recurrence.
With such good odds that you could one day become a low back pain statistic, why not do everything in your power today to change your trajectory? Seems like another good reason to find an activity (or better yet, two or three activities) that you enjoy, make it a regular part of your day and stick to it!

Patients Reap the Benefits of Playing a More Active Role in Physical Therapy

Patients can no longer be passive players in the game of health. Studies show that informed patients are not only more engaged during physical therapy but also reap the benefits in overall health and well-being.

Those who understand why they’ve been referred to physical therapy, are actively engaged in the process, and develop useful self-management skills are more likely to achieve lasting results. With a few pointers, building one’s health literacy doesn’t have to be an overwhelming prospect.

To get the most out of your rehabilitation, it’s important to keep an open line of communication with your physical therapist. Your physical therapist is a wealth of knowledge and is there to help you regain mobility and relieve pain. The interaction should be positive, informative, and collaborative. Here are a few questions to ask your physical therapist so you may understand the rehab approach and how it impacts your injury or illness:
Why have I lost function/why do I hurt?
Your physical therapist has been trained to determine why a particular injury causes a loss of mobility or interferes with your ability to complete a task. It’s helpful for patients to gather information and understand the body’s mechanics as it relates to an individual injury.
Did my lifestyle contribute to this issue?
Your physical therapist will gather information about your lifestyle in order to identify habits that might be contributing to the problem. Perhaps the patient needs to wear shoes with support and limit time in flip flops. Or maybe the patient is experiencing low back pain due to poor posture at work.
How will physical therapy help me?
Physical therapists work with patients to devise an individualized and concrete care plan. You should feel comfortable asking your physical therapist why a specific goal has been chosen, how it will help you, and what you personally need to do to succeed.
What can I do to make sure I get better?
Showing up for appointments is only half the battle. Being ready to participate and understanding what you should be doing in between appointments is critical. You should be prepared to carry over goals at home and make modifications to habits at home and work to change contributing behavior.

It’s important that you feel comfortable asking your physical therapist questions and continue to understand how you can contribute to your care plan. Advocating for your own care and maximizing educational opportunities will give you the confidence and tools to succeed in physical therapy and beyond.

Yearly Physical Therapy Visits are Just as Important as Annual Cholesterol Tests

You know the drill: During your annual visit, your primary care physician will order a cholesterol test. Combined with an assessment of health measures such as diet and exercise, the results of the cholesterol test will provide your physician with the information she needs to make a recommendation. If the results are positive, you might hear: “You’re doing great, keep doing what you’ve been doing!” If the results are unfavorable, then you’re more likely to be told: “I’d like you to walk for 20 additional minutes each day and eat cholesterol-lowering foods like oatmeal.”

Over time, high cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to form in your arteries, putting you in a high-risk category for heart disease and stroke. Similarly, the cumulative effects of poor posture or a muscular imbalance, for example, can take a toll on your body and inhibit your ability to move properly. That’s where a physical therapist comes in: Annual PT “checkups” can catch the musculoskeletal problems that put you at risk for injury or limit your ability to function down the
line.

One of the best tools in a PT’s prevention arsenal is the movement screen. By analyzing your fundamental movements with a movement screen developed for their own practice or one that requires certification such as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS™), PTs can get a clear picture of what the future will bring for you. Based on the information gathered, a physical therapist can help you safely reach your fitness goals and teach preventive strategies that can be
incorporated into your daily life.

Of course, it’s best to schedule your checkup before you’re experiencing a problem. That way, your physical therapist can establish a baseline based on your functional level at that time and use it to identify changes during subsequent annual visits. The effects of poor posture or a muscular imbalance may not be immediately apparent to you, but they will be to your PT.

An annual “checkup” gives your PT an inside look at your musculoskeletal system, which is comprised of your muscles, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and other connective tissues. It’s important that these essential internal structures are working together to support, stabilize and move your body.

Just as taking an annual trek to the primary care physician helps to monitor your cholesterol levels—and prevent heart disease—yearly physical therapy appointments allow your PT to identify and address any changes in the way you move before they become something more.

Call today to set up your appointment with one of the best physical therapists in town!