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Physical Therapists stand at the ready to help with the Opioid Crisis

Physical Therapists stand at the ready to help with the Opioid Crisis   Did you know that Physical Therapy is a profession that was actually birthed out of national crisis situations?  In 1917, the US War department’s surgeon general saw the great need for a special group of people who could intervene to help injured soldiers during World War I.  His attention was drawn to England where education was being given to young women in teaching them how to help with the traumatic injuries of war.  The United States sent a young woman, Mary McMillan, to receive this education and to return and begin a program here in the US.  She became the first “physical therapist” in the United States. The early physical therapists were called Reconstruction Aides.  86,000 soldiers were treated from 1918-1920.  Proving that many men could be returned to useful lives avoiding serious disability, the principles of physical therapy became so definitively established that civilian hospitals began to provide a staff of such workers.   The field continued to grow even more after World War II.  The national crisis of the Polio Epidemic also found the US medical system in need of skilled individuals to address the physical needs of children and adults recovering from polio.   Dr Robert Lovett, an orthopedic surgeon dealing with the aftermath of polio conceptualized the “team approach” to rehabilitation for polio and he united doctors, nurses, physical therapists and brace makers to work together  to help address the polio epidemic. Today, physical therapy has evolved into a healthcare profession that requires a doctoral level of education and can address individuals with catastrophic...

Desk Job Exercises

How could you possibly injure yourself at a desk job?  It seems impossible that your body could be harmed in any way just by sitting at a desk, right?  Sedentary postures particularly the day in/day out kind can put a strain on your body.  I am sure you may have felt your body talking back to you during or at the end of a work day with physical complaints of stiffness or pain.  Why does this happen?  Sitting for long periods of time in one posture will cause the body to shorten certain muscle groups.  For example, your hip flexors (where your body meets your leg) are shortened to let you sit.  Also, your hamstrings on the back of your thigh can become shortened and tight.  You may also experience pressure on the large nerve in the back of your leg (sciatic nerve) that can send pain down the entire length of your leg.   If you assume poor sitting posture by sitting slouched forward, you are also affecting the joints and muscles around your chest and neck and overstretching those of your low back region.  Here are a few simple exercise stretch ideas you can do right at your desk to avoid the above issues. If you have 5 minutes, you can do these stretches! 1.  Sit on edge of your chair with legs together.  Reach arms out to your sides at shoulder level with palms facing down. Slowly rotate your torso and arms to the left followed by turning your head to look to the left.  Hold for a breath in and out.  Then slowly rotate to the...

Physical Therapy for Parkinson’s disease

April is Parkinson’s disease awareness month!!  Did you know that one million individuals in the United States are living with this disease?  Physical Therapy has always been a component of care for individuals with Parkinson’s. The past twenty years of rehabilitative research has revealed several important findings which physical therapists who specialize with this patient population would like patients to know.  The earlier care is initiated, the better the outcomes.  It used to be that persons were not referred for therapy until much disability had occurred or if someone was experiencing falls.  Now, there are proven interventions to address the disease early so that patients can be empowered to know what exercises and habits can help them even in the earliest stages.  Being involved in activity and movement is very important.  Rigidity (a form of muscle tightness) of the axial (spinal) muscles can be present even in the early stages and learning to improve mobility in this body region can carry over to being able to maintain long term functional capabilities.  There is also a sensory/motor disconnect whereby patients feel they are moving as big as they can when in fact they are not.  This change is very subtle over time and the patient is often unaware of it until someone else points it out to them.  Aerobic conditioning is very important to maintain at all stages of the disease and patients can benefit from guidance on how to incorporate this into their lives.   Postural changes can also be a subtle progression with this disease and can be improved with exercise and patient education.  Tremor remains resistant to...

Avoiding Tech Overload that can cause Tech-induced Injuries

Just as the words Facebook, Twitter, Xbox, cell phone, tablet, laptop and Snapchat have made their way into our everyday life and vocabulary, new medical conditions are surfacing due to how we are physically interfacing with all the great new technologies available to us. TEXT NECK For example, could you be using your cell phone, laptop, electronic book or other digital device in a way that may cause the condition known as “Text Neck”? Your head weighs an average of 10 to 12 pounds and places this weight onto your spine. However, if you bend your neck forward and look down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. Take a look at how a normal 10-12 pound load on the neck changes with the angle at which you are holding your head on your neck: 15 degree bend: 27 pounds 30 degree bend: 40 pounds 45 degree bend: 49 pounds 60 degree bend: 60 pounds That amounts to a great deal of unnecessary wear and tear on the joints of the neck! Think about how often you are looking at a device in this way. If you have high school or college age students, the amount of time they do this may exceed many of us. When tissues of the spine are placed in these positions of stress repeatedly and for prolonged periods of time day in and day out, it can lead to tissue inflammation, muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated discs, and headaches. Medical experts are growing increasingly concerned with the amount of people and particularly young people who require spine care. To avoid this poor...

Unexpected Sources of Pain

Here are some strange but true sources of pain that may not be obvious. If you are suffering from discomfort but just cannot seem to pinpoint what is causing it, consider some of these potential culprits. Our choice of wardrobe: Paying attention to what we choose to wear can have an influence on how we feel. Let’s think about shoes first. Most women can attest to the fact that high heels are known to be uncomfortable but flip-flops/sandals can be problematic too. This type of footwear offers no arch support and can lead to conditions like plantar fasciitis, ankle and knee pain. Save this type of footwear for the beach or in limited time frames. It really is best to have some arch support for everyday use. Watch that wallet-where you keep it that is. Most men like to keep their wallet in one of their back pants pockets. This location however can contribute to back or leg pain. From a seated position, the wallet placement can place unnecessary pressure on the sciatic nerve which can lead to sciatica. The easiest solution is to remove the wallet while driving – especially long distances- or when taking a seat. Tight fitting pants or belts, wearing a phone in a front hip pocket or taking a long bike trip while bent over the handle bars for a long period of time can cause pain in the front and side of the upper thigh. This can sometimes be mistaken for a back nerve root problem but it is actually a sensory nerve impingement syndrome. Monitor anything that may be constricting where your...

The Cultural Trend of Sports Specialization in Youth: What You Should Know

The Cultural Trend of Sports Specialization in Youth:  What You Should Know   There is no doubt that organized sports can be a very positive experience for young people offering fitness benefits (greater cardiovascular health, bone mass, strength, prevention of obesity and type II diabetes), improved coordination and athletic skills, self esteem and social interaction skills in addition to just being a healthy outlet for fun!  Youth participation in sports has changed dramatically in the past 3 decades.  Participation has increased by more than sixfold.  Girls have become more involved in athletics and there has been significant study of the female athlete’s vulnerability to specific injuries.   Including both genders between the ages of 5 and 14, sports related injuries have increased to estimated numbers of 3.5 million a year.  Within this great increase of participation in youth sports, has grown a trend of “sports specialization” occurring in younger and younger age groups.  This phenomenon is when young athletes “self select” to focus on a year round single sport participation.  Children and adolescents who choose one specific sport face increasing quantity and specificity of stresses on their growing bodies due to the constant exposure of that one sport or training required for that one sport.  As professionals in the medical field and specialists in the sports medicine arena, we are noting that we have within our community two large populations of children:  Ones who are inactive and face the threat of obesity and another growing large group of increasingly specializing sport youth who are at risk of developing injury due to overuse in a skeletally immature body.  Did you know...