Imaging Can Improve Physical Therapy Treatment

Physical therapists are experts in the musculoskeletal system, and typically use patient
history and a good physical exam to come to a diagnosis and treatment plan. However,
PTs are increasingly using diagnostic imaging as they become the practitioner of choice
for musculoskeletal injuries. Many PTs have access to diagnostic ultrasound right in the
clinic, and in some practice settings like the military, and certain ACOs, therapists have
the ability to order imaging like x-rays, CT scans and MRIs.

The research indicates that PTs are effective in using their ability to order imaging when
it exists. A study of 108 imaging orders by PTs providing musculoskeletal primary care
in a direct-access sports physical therapy clinic found that advanced diagnostic imaging
was ordered appropriately in over 80% of cases.

So, PTs are good at appropriately ordering imaging, but how does it improve
treatment? A case study published in the July 2015 issues of the Journal of Manual &
Manipulative Therapy gives a good illustration:
The patient was a very active dentist who had chronic mid and upper back pain. He had
a known history of benign neural tissue tumors of his head and upper back region, but
no specific diagnosis for his back pain had been provided. After examination, the PT
decided to start treatment for the patient’s back pain, but also order x-rays and an MRI
of the symptomatic part of the patient’s spine. The MRI showed a previously
undiscovered meningioma, or benign tumor of the membrane that covers the spinal
cord.

The benefit to this patient was that the PT could continue treatment without making
referrals and waiting for someone else to order the images. Also, once the tumor was
discovered, the PT could select exercises and manual techniques that would help the
patient, but avoid putting stress on the area of the tumor. It also allowed the PT to
educate the patient on fitness activities that would be safe and appropriate.

The case study has a quote that sums up the benefits of imaging combined with PT
nicely: “Orthopaedic physical therapists have high levels of musculoskeletal expertise
and extensive knowledge of typical patterns and behaviors of musculoskeletal
conditions. These competencies and experiential knowledge enable them to
appropriately recognize situations requiring additional diagnostic screening for nonmusculoskeletal pathology.
This case demonstrates how privileges to order musculoskeletal imaging studies assisted the physical therapist in providing optimal,
patient-centered care. The physical therapist in this case was able to continue
treatment without multiple referrals back to the medical provider to obtain imaging,
and so provided more cost-efficient and convenient care.”

Reference article and case study:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5046964/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4534847/

The Number One Thing You Can Do to Improve Your Physical Therapy Experience

Dealing with the pain and limited mobility associated with an injury or illness can be stressful for so many reasons. You might have questions like, “How long will I be sidelined?” and “What do I need to do to get better?” Or maybe you’re worried about how you’ll pick your children up from school, walk to the train for your commute or prepare meals for your family.
These are all perfectly normal concerns. Luckily, there are some ways that you can gain control over the situation and ensure that you return to the activities you care most about—especially if physical therapy is part of your plan.

What you can do before your very first appointment—and during physical therapy—to take control of that injury-related stress? First and foremost, it’s important to come prepared for physical therapy. And no, I’m not talking about dressing appropriately and arriving on time (or even better, 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled appointment). That stuff is important, of course, but there’s one thing you can do in the days leading up to your appointment that will set you up for success.

Any guesses? I’m talking about starting a list. What kind of list? Well, every time that you feel pain in the affected area or notice an activity that is harder than it was pre-injury, add it to the list! And the more specific you are, the better. Here’s an example to help drive this point home: Let’s say that you’re recovering from a moderate meniscus tear and you have an appointment with your physical therapist in three days. Take notes on how your knee feels first thing in the morning after you’ve been off your feet. How does your knee react when you stand up from a chair—does it feel unstable? Or do you find that you need to clutch the back of the couch on your way to the bathroom? Sharing each of these details helps your physical therapist understand your limitations beyond the injury printed on your intake form.

Now let’s take that list a step farther and add some details about the activities that you typically participate in on a regular basis. Let’s say that you normally play a weekly round of golf, spend your mornings weeding your garden or meet up with friends for a four-mile walk two evenings a week. These activities have become an important part of your life so let’s make sure that they’re factored into your list, perhaps in the “what you hope to get out of physical therapy” category. Painting a clear picture of how active you are—and what types of activities and sports you participate in—can help your physical therapist design an individualized treatment plan and to better help you on your road to recovery.

Have you been to physical therapy lately for an injury? Did you find anything else that helped maximize your time in rehab or that improved communication with your physical therapist?

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!

ARTHRITIS & FIBROMYALGIA & AQUATIC THERAPY

Relaxation is one of the most important aspects of controlling arthritis and fibromyalgia pain. Therapeutic warm water provides sensory stimulation, which encourages relaxation and stress relief. Combining this warm water with our deep penetrating massage system can greatly reduce the stress and pain on aching muscles and joints.
Walking on the underwater treadmill or exercising against the resistance jets can also help manage your pain. When standing chest deep in water, the body is 80% weightless, bearing only 20% of its body weight. This weightlessness significantly reduces the stress on joints and muscles.
BENEFITS OF AQUATIC THERAPY FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM ARTHRITIS AND FIBROMYALGIA:
-Relaxation
-Increased joint range of motion
-Pain relief
-Enhanced mobility
-Improve flexibility
-Mobility and strength
-Removes weight from joints and bones
-Strengthens muscles and joints after surgery
-Decreased side effects

Call Freedom today to set up your appointment OR ask about our free 30 minute session.

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!

One Annual Health Checkup That’s Probably Missing from Your Calendar

Some health habits are instilled in us at a young
age. For as long as you can remember, for example, you made annual treks in the family minivan to both the pediatrician and the dentist. As you entered adulthood, you probably transitioned to a primary care physician, and maybe even a different dentist better equipped to address adult needs. Anytime you’ve moved or switched insurance carriers, one of your first priorities has been to track down new providers. Now you may even choose to schedule visits more than once a year, when necessary. You
probably figure that between the two healthcare professionals, all of your health needs are covered, right?

As it turns out, these healthcare professionals aren’t specifically trained to assess your musculoskeletal system, which is comprised of your muscles, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and other connective tissues.
Then who is the right healthcare professional to ensure that
these essential internal structures are working properly and
helping to support, stabilize and move your body? A physical therapist.

At a yearly physical therapy “checkup,” your PT will gather your medical history and observe as you participate in screening tests and other assessments to establish a baseline of your physical abilities, fitness level and personal health. Physical therapists are educated on how your
musculoskeletal system functions properly and are trained to identify dysfunctions before they grow into bigger problems.

To maximize the encounter with your physical therapist, it’s important to be prepared before your appointment. To ensure that you cover everything and address any issues you may be having, make a list that includes:
• Health issues like diabetes or high blood pressure
• Current medications, including supplements
• Physical fitness activities
• New activities you’re considering
• Fitness goals

The information exchange between you and your PT is critical to forming an ongoing relationship, and to ensuring that you’re functioning and moving at top form. By understanding what sports and recreational activities you’re currently participating in and the fitness goals you’re aiming to achieve, your PT will be better prepared to make recommendations and tailor a home exercise program designed to help you achieve your goals.

Making wellness a part of your everyday life and taking steps to ensure that your musculoskeletal system is functioning at top notch can be very empowering
and rewarding. Why not begin—or continue—that journey with a physical therapist? Now that you know how to
prepare for a physical therapy checkup, and understand what you can expect during the appointment, the next step is us today and schedule your annual visit!