Category Archives: Monthly Awareness

Consider Physical Therapy if you still have Pain

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You injured your back, your knee or your wrist. You’ve gone to the doctor who suggested rest, anti-inflammatories and perhaps a brace. However, even after time has passed, you’re still having pain. Have you considered physical therapy?

Physical therapy may sound like it’s just for recovery of major musculoskeletal surgeries like a knee replacement or after a stroke, but in reality physical therapy can help even in situations that seem less serious. Physical therapy can help anyone return to their optimal level of functioning who have suffered an injury, developed weaknesses or have muscle & joint imbalances.
Physical therapy can help with the reduction of pain using a variety of techniques. Many PT’s use evidence-based techniques and “hands on therapy” to release restricted muscles. They can locate and work on trigger points, which may be referring pain to other areas of your body.

Pain often continues after an injury due to weaknesses developed in the muscle groups that were affected, long after the muscle has actually healed. Often, other muscles are being overworked to compensate, creating more or different pain. Physical therapists can isolate and determine specifically where those weaknesses are and develop an exercise plan to help those areas regain their strength. Therapists can guide you through proper movement allowing your body to relearn what it feels like to once again move correctly. Physical therapy may also help you avoid surgery. As you strengthen and stretch particular muscle groups you may no longer need surgery. If you and your physician find you do need surgery, physical therapy will help get those muscles as strong and flexible as possible beforehand so you will have a faster, less painful recovery.

There are a variety of types of physical therapists with more expertise in a particular areas. Patients who have had a heart attack may see a cardiac rehab therapist, those with hip or knee replacements may see an orthopedic physical therapist. Certain physical therapists only work with children while others primarily work with seniors. There are also PTs in the area of woman’s health, helping women with pelvic pain issues or incontinence problems.

Resources are available to help a physical therapist to suit your needs. Ask friends who have had physical therapy if they would recommend their therapist to you. Some physicians have physical therapists they prefer to work with and will often refer to those particular clinics.
Call the physical therapy clinic and ask about a therapist’s experience working with patients with your type of issue. The office staff can also verify whether or not your insurance will cover the physical therapy and how much you will be responsible for with each visit.

Physical therapy is definitely worth a try for chronic problems that have not improved with other treatments. Ask the PT how many visits it should take before you would see some progress. The PT and your physician will develop a plan that works for you!

10 Ways Physical Therapy Can Help. Lehigh Valley Health Network. Retrieved July 7, 2013.…

Physical Therapy. Teens Health from Nemours. Retrieved July 7, 2013.

American Physical Therapy Association.

“Find a PT”


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Prevention of Slip-related Falls in Older Adults


Repeated-Slip Training:
An Emerging Paradigm for Prevention of Slip-Related Falls among Older Adults

By: Yi-Chung Pai, Tanvi S Bhatt
Physical Therapy Volume 87 Number 11 November 2007

• Falls frequently cause injury-related hospitalization or death among older adults.
• Physical Therapy provides task-specific adaptive training, facilitating the development of protective strategies to reduce falls among older adults.
• Repeated training resulted in the study suggesting subjects substantially improved pre and post-slip onset stability and weight support, with both proactive and reactive control, leading to nearly no balance loss toward the end of the session.
• A most encouraging result from the study revealed through physical therapy, older adults can rapidly develop adaptive skills for fall prevention strategies just as young adults following a repeated slip paradigm.

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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Monthly Awareness


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Physical Therapist’s Guide to Falls

The month of June begins National Safety Month. There is no better time than to explain falls and how a physical therapist can provide help and assistance.

Falls can diminish your ability to lead an active and independent life. About one third of people over the age of 65 and almost half of people over the age of 80 will fall at least once this year. There usually are several reasons for a fall. Physical therapists can help you reduce your risk of falling by:
– Assessing your risk of falling
– Helping you make your home as safe as possible
– Educating you about the medical risk factors linked to falls
– Designing individualized exercises and balance training
– Working with other health care professionals and community services to create programs for people who want to reduce their risk of falling

The reasons for falls are complex and may include:
– Being 80 years old or older
– Leg muscle weakness
– Difficulty with balance or walking
– Vision problems (cataracts, macular degeneration, wearing bifocals)
– Medical conditions that limit your ability to get around, such as Parkinson disease, stroke, or diabetes
– Conditions that cause confusion, such as dementia and Alzheimer disease
– Depression
– Taking more than 4 medications at the same time or psychoactive medications (such as sedatives or antidepressants)
– Using a cane or other walking device
– Home hazards (throw rugs, pets underfoot)
– Low blood pressure

The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk. The factors associated with the greatest fall risk are:
– A history of previous falls
– Balance problems
– Leg muscle weakness
– Vision problems
– Taking more than 4 medications or psychoactive medications
– Difficulty with walking

How Can a Physical Therapist Help?

If you are worried about falling or if you recently had a fall, your physical therapist can conduct a brief check (“screening”) of your fall risk. If the screening shows that you are at risk, the therapist will perform a thorough evaluation which may include:
– A review of your medical history
– A review of your medications
– A simple vision test
– A home safety assessment
– A simple screen of your thinking abilities
– A check of your heart rate
– Blood pressure measurements while you change positions (from sitting to standing)
– Feet and footwear assessment
– Assessment of any nervous system disorders, such as stroke or Parkinson disease

The therapist also will:
– Measure your leg strength, using simple tests such as timing how long it takes you to risk from a chair
– Determine how quickly and steadily you walk
– Assess your balance—for instance, by having you stand on one leg or rise from a chair and walk
– Use special tests to measure your balance

Based on the evaluation results, your physical therapist will design an exercise and training program to improve your balance and strength. A recent systematic review of many published studies found that exercise-based programs in the home or in group settings are effective in preventing falls. These programs are especially effective when balance exercises are performed in a standing position without using much arm support.

Balance Training

Balance training has been shown to be an important and effective part of falls prevention. Your physical therapist will design exercises that challenge your ability to keep your balance, including such exercises as single-leg standing.

Walking and Moving

When people walk very slowly or are unsteady, they are at risk of falling. Your physical therapist can improve your walking ability by having you do such activities as:
Dance steps
Walking in circles
“Figure 8” exercises to strengthen the core abdominal muscles that help stabilize your body
Obstacle courses

Doing More Than One Thing at the Same Time—Safely

Older adults who have difficulty walking and talking at the same time are at a higher risk of falling. To help increase your safety during daily activities, your physical therapist can design a “dual-task” training program. This kind of training will challenge you to maintain walking speed while you do another task, such as counting backwards, engaging in a conversation, or carrying a bag of groceries.

Strength Training

Strengthening exercises are a key element of fall prevention when they are done in conjunction with balance training. Your physical therapist will design strengthening exercises that focus on your leg and the muscles used in maintaining posture.

Aerobic Training

Aerobic exercise is physical exercise of relatively low intensity and long duration; it can help improve almost every aspect of your health. Walking is one of the safest forms of aerobic exercise, no matter what kind of problem you have. Once you have begun your strengthening and balance program, your physical therapist will know when you’re ready to start aerobic exercise. Depending on your ability, the therapist might have you do three 30-minute walking sessions each week.


Your physical therapist will take the time to explain to you how to best manage your own risks for falling. Your therapist also may talk to you about the best activities for you to do to maintain your quality of life.

Fear Management

It will be important for you to talk with your physical therapist about any fear of falling that you have. Your therapist will work with you to determine whether there are activities you should avoid. Your therapist also will work with you to determine whether your fear may be unfounded and whether there are activities that you should be doing to keep strong and help your balance.

Community Programs

Several fall prevention programs are being promoted by the Injury Prevention and Control Center of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the Administration on Aging. These programs help people:
Reduce their fear of falling, set goals for increasing their physical activity, make their homes more safe and, do more exercise to increase strength and balance

These programs often are led by volunteer coaches. Your physical therapist may be involved in setting up one or these programs and can help you find programs in your area that would be best for you.

Excerpts adapted from the APTA: Move Forward Guide

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Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Monthly Awareness


May is Arthritis Month


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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Monthly Awareness