Tag Archives: Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy for Golfer's Elbow

Physical Therapy for Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

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Physical Therapy for Golfer's Elbow

Golfer’s Elbow, medically known as medial epicondylitis,  is a painful condition where the tendons that attach to the inside of the elbow become inflamed due to repetitive use of the hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow. It often occurs with repetitive activities such as swinging a golf club or tennis racket, work or leisure activities requiring twisting and gripping such as shoveling, gardening and swinging a hammer. It can also appear in other sports-related activities such as throwing and swimming. Medial epicondylitis is most commonly seen in men over the age of 35 but can be seen in any population. If these symptoms sound familiar, than going to physical therapy for golfer’s elbow may be just what you need.

What is causing your elbow pain?

Medial epicondylitis affects the group of muscles that are responsible for bending the wrist, fingers, and thumb and that rotate the wrist and forearm. The tendons that connect those muscles to the medial epicondyle (bump on inside of elbow). Tendons are made up of collagen fibers that are lined up next to each other. The repetitive forces pull on those tendons creating pain and tenderness. Without treatment, those tendons can eventually pull away from the bone. Acute injuries to your elbow can create an inflammatory response which can cause redness, warmth, and stiffness in your elbow.

Medial epicondylitis is most often caused by an abnormal arrangement of collagen fibers. This condition is called tendinosis. During tendinosis, the body doesn’t create inflammatory cells as it does during an acute injury. Instead, fibroblasts are created which help make up scar tissue to fill in the spaces between the collagen fibers. This increase in scar tissue can lead to increased pain and weakness in the tissues. Physical and hand therapy is the most common nonsurgical treatment for medial epicondylitis. Your therapist will perform an evaluation where he/she will ask you several questions about your condition, pain level and other symptoms you may be experiencing. He/she will perform motion and strength testing on your entire upper extremity. Your therapist will also palpate your arm to determine which tendon(s) may be inflamed. He/she will use special tests designed to deferentially diagnose your condition from others that may have similar presentations, such as Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.

golf ball on tee

What to expect from Physical Therapy for Golfer’s Elbow

  • Pain Management: this can include Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy, ice, ice massage, moist heat, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound.
  • Range-of-Motion Exercises: stretches and mobility exercises to help maintain proper movement in your elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand.
  • Strengthening Exercises: progressive resistive exercises to help build strength in your arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand. These can include weights, medicine balls and/or resistance bands. This will also include your Home Exercise Program.
  • Manual Therapy: used to ensure full, pain-free movement is achieved and can include joint mobilizations, manual muscle stretches, and soft tissue massage.
  • Neuromuscular Re-education (Functional Training): used to help you return to your prior level of function for both home and work activities. Will include retraining proper movement patterns with necessary modifications based on the current level of function and patient limitations.
  • Patient Education: used to help retrain patients on proper postural control during everyday activities including dressing, self-care, work, and sports activities. This can include helping return a patient to their specific sport, such as making adjustments to their golf swing or throwing technique.

Once you’ve completed physical therapy for Golfer’s Elbow you’ll want to do everything you can to prevent this from reoccurring. This can occur by maintaining proper awareness of your risk for injury during your daily movements. Key things to keep in mind:

1. Maintain proper form during all repetitive movements both at work and at home.
2. Continue your Home Exercise Program in order to maintain proper strength in your shoulder, elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand.
3. Use proper posture and body mechanics with lifting or carrying to avoid any undue stress on your joints and tendons.

This information was written by Plymouth Physical Therapy Specialists, an outpatient physical and hand therapy group with fourteen locations in the surrounding Plymouth, Michigan area. At Plymouth Physical Therapy Specialists, they are committed to using evidence-based treatments in their practice. This means that their therapists utilize the most current and clinically relevant treatments in their approach to rehabilitation. For more information click here.

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PT News February 2020

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This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout February 2020. We are excited to begin a new year of new posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

1. 8 Great Pelvic Floor Stretches to do During Pregnancy

Written by Ability Rehabilitation with multiple locations throughout Tampa and Orlando, FL.

Stretching and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy can help relieve your aches and pains — and alleviate stress and tension too. Pelvic floor stretches will also help you have an easier delivery and decrease your risk of urinary incontinence later on.  Read more

 

neck pain

2. Treat Your Back and Neck Pain with Our Advanced PT Methods

Written by Cornerstone Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy practice with multiple locations throughout Greater Columbus, OH

Did you know that studies say approximately 90% of people will be plagued by back or neck pain at some point in their lives? While it is a common complaint, it can sometimes be difficult to determine where the pain is originating on your own. Read more

 

3. Older is Better: Strength Training for the Aging

Written by Wright Physical Therapy an outpatient physical and hand therapy practice with locations throughout Idaho.

Aging adults often attribute their aches, pains, and illnesses to “getting too old”. Age can be used altogether too much as a crutch to avoid exercise and activity. When it comes to health in general, the aging individual has so much upside to focusing on wellness in their lifestyle.  Read more

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Can Knee Pain Cause Low Back Pain

Can Knee Pain Cause Low Back Pain?

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Can Knee Pain Cause Low Back Pain

Knee osteoarthritis remains a significant problem among US adults 60 years and older. A recent study suggests knee arthritis rates as high as 37 % with women showing higher rates vs men (42% vs 31%) and higher rates among those with significant weight problems.

As a result, many of these patients opt for a total knee replacement. However, patients often suffer from pain and have difficulty walking for many years before deciding to proceed with such surgery. Living with pain for an extended period typically causes changes in how a patient walks in an attempt to relieve the pain associated with knee arthritis. Sometimes this is even done subconsciously, but it can lead to additional problems, such as low back pain (LBP). An example of how knee pain can cause low back pain would be a knee flexed position that leads to a patient leaning forward when walking. This changes at the pelvis and contributes to low back pain.

Physical Therapy Can Help Your Low Back and Knee Pain

When a patient seeks help from a physician complaining of low back pain, they are commonly referred to a physical therapist for treatment. In treating these patients, physical therapists will provide a complete and individualized assessment of the causes of low back pain, which may include a thorough biomechanical evaluation and gait assessment. Patients that go to physical therapy with knee arthritis/osteoarthritis have likely developed a permanent knee bent posture (osteoarthritis patients almost always keep their knee bent at 10 degrees or more to relieve pressure or to prevent the sheering force on the knee).

Even though back pain and knee arthritis are significant problems there is a solution. Through aggressive physical therapy that is aimed at restoring normal gait patterns, spinal mobility, and conditioning, patients have had significant relief of back pain and are prepared for successful rehabilitation following a total knee replacement. By eliminating the knee bent position before surgery and normalizing gait patterns patients can exercise more effectively, improve cardiovascular conditioning and reduce the energy cost associated with changes in how they walk all while reducing back pain.

If you believe your knee pain is causing your back pain, you may benefit from physical therapy.  Through years of experience, we have seen that comprehensive manual therapy, aimed at restoring normal walking patterns in low back pain patients considering a total knee replacement, can result in a significantly easier recovery of normal function during post-operative rehab.

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Provided by the therapists at Life Fitness Physical Therapy – MD
www.lifefitnesspt.com

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PT News January 2020

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This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout January 2020. We are excited to begin a new year of new posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

1. How to Keep Up With Your New Year’s Resolutions

Written by Momentum Physical Therapy with multiple locations throughout San Antonio, TX.

Did you set a health or fitness goal for this new year/new decade? Maybe it was running, joining a gym, drinking more water or even getting more sleep. No matter what you choose, it’s important to have a goal in mind. We have all heard the statistics on resolutions, especially when it comes to fitness-related resolutions.  Read more

 

2. Winter Activities Foster Year-Round Fitness

Written by The Jackson Clinics, an outpatient physical therapy practice with multiple locations throughout Virginia and Maryland. 

The urge to “hibernate” in winter is strong, even for us humans. However, you are better off staying in shape than struggling to catch up come spring. And winter exercise benefits more than just physical fitness; it is also a powerful antidote for the winter blues. Read more

 

3. What is a Hand Therapist

Written by Desert Hand and Physical Therapy an outpatient physical and hand therapy practice with locations throughout Phoenix, AZ.

Physical therapy is something we may have all heard about, but hand therapy might be unfamiliar territory. Although physical therapy and hand therapy are similar, there are some major differences between the two that should be understood.   Read more

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benefits of a home exercise program

Why Should I Do My Home Exercise Program?

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benefits of a home exercise program

When a patient walks in for physical therapy, one of the things they are sent home with is a home exercise program. But why do they do that? Aren’t they supposed to take care of everything while you are in the clinic?  These are questions that may run through your head, but what exactly are the benefits of a home exercise program? If you’re on the fence of whether or not to take your HEP seriously, we’re here to tell you why you should.

  • Continuation of forwarding progression in rehabilitation: Physical and occupational therapists tailor each program to the abilities and strengths of each patient. A patient that completes their home exercise program is more likely to excel in the one-on-one sessions at the clinic and experience fewer setbacks in rehabilitation.
  • Increases level of mobility and endurance: Exercise in the home is designed to continue the progress of the clinic visit by increasing a patient’s flexibility and stamina. A good home exercise program allows a patient to increase function and improve muscle memory so that progress is gained rather than lost from one visit to another.
  • For some patients, therapy doesn’t end at discharge: A home exercise program can help a patient remain pain-free and functional without having to pay for repeat visits and costly medical bills. For patients experiencing chronic pain – a home exercise program is a ticket to staying out of the doctor’s office.

Despite the benefits of a home exercise program, patients have trouble following through on their home exercise program goals. We’re going to go over some of the more common excuses:

  • I don’t have time, because life at home is too busy: It can be hard, especially for those running a household with multiple schedules to accommodate. However, a physical therapist can offer suggestions on working these into your schedule. Some exercises can be done at work, at home, on the playground. If time is truly a concern than don’t be afraid to let the therapist know.
  • It hurts: Some pain is considered normal – it’s a normal part of exercise. However, if you are doing an exercise and something feels wrong, let your physical therapist know immediately. Don’t wait until your next appointment and tell yourself you will take care of it then. It could be something as simple as not doing the exercise correctly and they can talk you through it over the phone. Communication is a large part of rehabilitation and your therapist wants to know if something is causing concern.
  • Not motivated: Not seeing the point of the exercises your therapist gave you – ask them why it is so beneficial. Going to see a physical therapist 2-3 times a week alone without doing home exercises will not be enough to maintain muscle strength and flexibility. Healthy habits begin with persistence. If you need motivation talk to your therapist, they are born motivators and want nothing more than to watch you succeed. Enlist the help of family or friends to keep asking about your progress.

Physical therapists may utilize print copies of exercises or they may choose to go utilize a digital version that you can access from a mobile device. No matter the delivery, the goal for each is the same. To help you heal more effectively. If you have questions about your home exercise program and what it contributes to your recovery talk to your physical therapist. Education and understanding are crucial to making sure your experience in recovery is successful. If you need help finding a physical therapist to answer your questions, we have you covered in our “Find a PT” section.

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PT News December 2019

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This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout December 2019. We are excited to begin a new year of new posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

nutrition strategies

1. Effective Nutrition Strategies

Written by The Center for Physical Rehabilitation with multiple locations throughout greater Grand Rapids, MI.

How do you stay on target with eating healthy and being active? Between work schedules, kid’s schedules, appointments, and change of plans, finding time to exercise and eat right can sometimes feel impossible. Read more

 

crossfit

2. Is Crossfit Right For You?

Written by Riverview Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy practice with multiple locations in Southern Maine. 

CrossFit is no longer a form of exercise performed in small gyms; it is a phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. At its roots, CrossFit is a popular form of exercise utilizing high-intensity fitness programming that incorporates elements from many disciplines: including weightlifting, traditional cardiovascular exercise (running, jumping rope, biking, rowing), and basic gymnastic movements. Read more

 

lymphedema physical therapy

3. Lymphedema Therapy – You Don’t Have to Live with Chronic Swelling

Written by Mishock Physical Therapy & Associates an outpatient physical therapy practice with locations throughout Montgomery, Berks, and Chester Counties in PA.

One cause of chronic swelling could be lymphedema. This is a condition where swelling occurs in the extremities due to a compromised or damaged lymph system. Lymph is the fluid that bathes the cells with needed nutrients, oxygen, and white blood cells provided by the circulatory system.   Read more

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PT News November 2019

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This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout November 2019. We are excited to begin a new year of new posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

low back pain

1. Low Back Pain – A Powerful Guide

Written by Wright Physical Therapy with multiple locations throughout the heart of the Magic Valley, Boise and Eastern Idaho.

Daily, we see patients who are concerned about the course they should take to heal their back pain.  Our aim with these individuals is to utilize a skilled classification system and evidence-based treatments to aid in identification and treatment of Low Back Pain (LBP). Read more

 

Snow Shoveling

2. Prevent Low Back Pain While Shoveling Snow

Written by Rehab Associates of Central Virginia, an outpatient physical therapy practice with multiple locations throughout Central VA. 

As I was shoveling the snow off my driveway this week, I quickly realized that I needed to adjust my technique or I was going to pay for it later. Injury can result from repetitive movements with a general lack of awareness and variability in movement and may be prevented with some easy steps. Read more

 

physical therapy

3. Relieving Your Pain the Natural Way – Physical Therapy as the Safer Relief Alternative

Written by Cornerstone Physical Therapy an outpatient physical therapy practice with locations throughout Greater Columbus, OH.

It is no secret that the United States is a country with very high levels of medication. It is also a common practice for physicians to prescribe heavier pain relievers, such as the opioids that have resulted in a country-wide epidemic. While the effects of these drugs can be frightening, there is a safer solution available: physical therapy.  Read more

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strength training physical therapy

Strength Training: You’re Not Too Old!

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strength training physical therapy

If you think you are “too old” to do strength training exercises, think again! With proper guidance and support, you can benefit from a program of regular strength-training exercises.

Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle and strength often seen in older adults. Although many questions remain about muscle loss and aging, one thing is certain: strength-training exercises can help reduce these effects. Even small changes in muscle size can make a big difference in strength, especially in people who have already lost a lot of muscle.

BENEFITS

According to the North American Spine Society, strength training can provide the following benefits in older adults:

  • Better balance and, consequently, reduced risk of falls
  • Quicker responses, which may also play a role in preventing falls
  • Reduced risk of osteoporosis (weakening of the bones)
  • Improved quality of life
  • Improved mental alertness

EXAMPLES OF STRENGTH-TRAINING EXERCISES

You can increase your strength by regularly using any of the following:

  • Weights
  • Strength-training equipment
  • A resistance band

 

HOW MUCH AND HOW OFTEN?

The National Institute on Aging recommends the following tips on how much and how often you should do strength-training exercises:

  • Exercise all of your major muscle groups at least twice a week.
  • Do not do strength exercises of the same muscle group 2 days in a row.
  • Depending on your condition, you might need to start out using as little as 1 or 2 pounds of weight, or no weight at all.
  • Use a minimum of weight the first week, then gradually add weight. Starting out with weights that are too heavy can cause injuries.
  • When doing a strength exercise, do 10-15 repetitions in a row.
  • Take 3 seconds to lift or push a weight into place; hold the position for 1 second, and take another 3 seconds to lower the weight. Do not let the weight drop; lowering it slowly is important.
  • Gradually increase the amount of weight to benefit from strength exercises. When you can do 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions, then you can increase the amount of weight on your next session.
  • It should feel somewhere between hard and very hard for you to lift or push the weight. If you cannot lift or push a weight 8 times in a row, then it is too heavy for you. Reduce the amount of weight. If you can lift a weight more than 15 times in a row, it is too light for you. Increase the amount of weight. Do not increase more than 5% for all upper body and 10% for lower body exercises.

 

SAFETY TIPS

  • Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist before engaging in a new exercise program.
  • Breathe normally while exercising. Holding your breath (known as Valsalva maneuver) while straining can cause your blood pressure to go up. This is especially true for people with cardiovascular disease.
  • If you have had a hip repair or replacement, check with your surgeon before doing lower body exercises.
  • Avoid jerking or thrusting weights into position. This can cause injuries. Use smooth, steady movements.
  • Avoid locking the joints in your arms and legs in a straightened position.
  • Breathe out as you lift or push, and breathe in as you relax.
  • Muscle soreness lasting up to a few days and slight fatigue are normal after muscle-building exercises, but exhaustion, sore joints, and unpleasant muscle pulling are not. The latter symptoms may mean you are overdoing it.
  • None of the exercises you do should cause pain. The range within which you move your arms and legs should never hurt.

 

Looking for a physical therapist to help start your strengthening program?

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BUILD THAT BRAWN!

Strength exercises can help increase your strength when performed on a regular basis. Here are some examples from the National Institute of Aging:

Wrist Curl
This exercise strengthens the wrists.

  • Put your forearm on the arm of a chair. Your hand should be over the edge.
  • Hold the weight with your palm facing upward.
  • Bend your wrist up and down.
  • Do this 10-15 times.
  • Repeat with the other hand.
  • Do this 10-15 more times with each hand.

Side Arm Raise
This exercise strengthens shoulder muscles.

  • Sit in an armless chair with your back supported by the back of chair.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and even with your shoulders.
  • Hold hand weights straight down at your sides, with palms facing inward.
  • Raise both arms to your side, shoulder height.
  • Hold the position for one second.
  • Slowly lower your arms to your sides. Pause.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.
  • Rest; then do another set of 10-15 repetitions.

Chair Stand
This exercise strengthens muscles in your abdomen and thighs. Your goal is to do this exercise without using your hands as you become stronger.

  • Sit toward the front of a chair, knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  • Cross your hands over your chest and lean back in a half-reclining position. Keep your back and shoulders straight throughout the exercise.
  • Raise your upper body forward until you are sitting upright, using your hands as little as possible (or not at all, if you can).
  • Extend your arms outward so they are parallel to the floor. Slowly stand up, using your hands as little as possible.
  • Slowly sit back down. Pause.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.
  • Rest; then do another set of 10-15 repetitions.

Arm Curl
This exercise strengthens upper-arm muscles.

  • Stand with your feet even with your shoulders.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and even with your shoulders.
  • Hold your hand weights straight down at your sides, with palms facing forward.
  • Slowly bend one elbow, lifting weight toward your chest. (Rotate your palm to face your shoulder while lifting the weight.)
  • Hold this position for one second.
  • Slowly lower your arm to the starting position. Pause.
  • Repeat with the other arm.
  • Alternate arms until you have done 10-15 repetitions with each arm.
  • Rest; then do another set of 10-15 alternating repetitions.

Toe Stand
The heel raise strengthens ankle and calf muscles. You can use ankle weights for this exercise if you are able.

  • Stand straight, feet flat on the floor, holding onto a table or chair for balance.
  • Slowly stand on tiptoe, as high as possible.
  • Hold the position for 1 second.
  • Slowly lower your heels all the way back down. Pause.
  • Do the exercise 10-15 times.
  • Rest; then do another set of 10-15 repetitions.
  • Variation: As you become stronger, do the exercise standing on 1 leg only, alternating legs for a total of 10-15 times on each leg. Rest; then do another set of 10-15 alternating repetitions.

Knee Curl
Strengthens muscles in the back of the thigh. You can use ankle weights for this exercise if you are able.

  • Stand straight holding onto a table or chair for balance.
  • Slowly bend your knee as far as possible. Don’t move your upper leg at all; bend your knee only.
  • Hold this position for 1 second.
  • Slowly lower your foot all the way back down. Pause.
  • Repeat with your other leg.
  • Alternate legs until you have done 10-15 repetitions with each leg.
  • Rest; then do another set of 10-15 alternating repetitions.

Front Arm Raise
Strengthens shoulder muscles.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Hold hand weights straight down at your sides, with palms facing backward.
  • Raise both arms in front of you to shoulder height. Do not turn your wrist.
  • Hold this position for 1 second.
  • Slowly lower your arms. Pause.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.
  • Rest; then do another set of 10-15 repetitions.

Leg Straightening
Strengthens muscles in front of the thigh and shin. You can use ankle weights for this exercise if you are able.

  • Sit in a chair. Only the balls of your feet and your toes should rest on the floor. Put a rolled towel under your knees, if needed, to lift your feet. Rest your hands on your thighs or on the sides of the chair.
  • Slowly extend 1 leg in front of you as straight as possible.
  • Flex your foot to point toes toward the head.
  • Hold this position for 1–2 seconds.
  • Slowly lower your leg back down. Pause.
  • Repeat with your other leg.
  • Alternate legs until you have done 10-15 repetitions with each leg.
  • Rest; then do another set of 10-15 alternating repetitions.

Back Leg Raise
Hip extension strengthens buttock and lower-back muscles. You can use ankle weights for this exercise if you are able.

  • Stand 12-18 inches from a table or chair, feet slightly apart.
  • Hold onto a table or chair for balance.
  • Slowly lift one leg straight backwards without bending your knee, pointing your toes, or bending your upper body any farther forward.
  • Hold this position for 1 second.
  • Slowly lower your leg. Pause.
  • Repeat with your other leg.
  • Alternate legs until you have done 10-15 repetitions with each leg.
  • Rest; then do another set of 10-15 alternating repetitions.

Side Leg Raise
This strengthens muscles at the sides of your hips and thighs. Use ankle weights, if you are ready.

  • Stand straight, directly behind a table or chair, feet slightly apart.
  • Hold onto a table or chair for balance.
  • Slowly lift 1 leg 6-12 inches out to the side. Keep your back and both legs straight. Don’t point your toes outward; keep them facing forward.
  • Hold this position for 1 second.
  • Slowly lower your leg. Pause.
  • Repeat with the other leg.
  • Alternate legs until you have done 10-15 repetitions with each leg.
  • Rest; then do another set of 10-15 alternating repetitions.

This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

RESOURCES:

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://www.familydoctor.org

National Institute on Aging
http://www.nia.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/exercise_guide.pdf. Published January 2009. Accessed January 2, 2015.

Strength training for the elderly. North American Spine Society Know Your Back website. Available at: http://www.knowyourback.org/Pages/BackPainPrevention/Exercise/StrengthTrainingElderly.aspx. Accessed January 2, 2015.

Content provided by EBSCO.  EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation. 

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PT News October 2019

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This time in PT News we recap what our clinics have been posting throughout October 2019. We are excited to begin a new year of new posts featuring published articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

sport specialization

1. Sports Specialization Vs. Sports Diversification in Youth Athletes

Written by The Center for Physical Rehabilitation with multiple locations throughout greater Grand Rapids.

Early specialization in one sport has become a trend in youth athletes across the country. This shift is one that has young athletes training year round to develop a specialized skill be able to play at the highest level of competition. Read more

 

food is fuel

2. Food is Your Fuel

Written by Rebound Physical Therapy, an outpatient physical therapy practice with locations throughout greater Bend, OR. 

Truth: we are not nutritionists. That said, after a bit of trial and error and working with patients and various health professionals, we have picked up on these and common do’s and dont’s. Lindsey Hagen, PT, and healthy running nut discusses the importance of balance in your diet and making sure you do what is best for your body, as they say, “You do you…” Read more

 

walking up stairs

3. Climbing Stairs – One Step at a Time

Written by The Jackson Clinics an outpatient physical therapy practice with locations across Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa

Although going up the stairs may feel challenging, some people experience more pain going down. This is because your muscles have to work hard to control your weight as you descend. If you have suffered from knee problems in the past or continue to have problems, it is probably time to look at increasing strength to make navigating stairs less difficult. Read more

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concussion baseline testing

Post Concussion Recovery: Why Baseline Testing is Important

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Concussion Baseline Testing

Concussions are serious

Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.

Once an athlete has been suspected of having a concussion… when is it safe to go back to play? The answer is different for everyone, but there are few baseline tests that medical professionals can administer to make sure that a gradual return to play, work and activity is safe and won’t lead to further damage.

When an athlete has a concussion, it’s important to know how much their functional and cognitive abilities have been affected. With a baseline test you give medical professionals an accurate starting point to correctly evaluate the impact of the injury.

FAQs about Concussion Baseline Testing

Concussion baseline testing is a pre-season exam conducted by a trained health care professional. Baseline tests are used to assess an athlete’s balance and brain function (including learning and memory skills, ability to pay attention or concentrate, and how quickly he or she thinks and solve problems), as well as for the presence of any concussion symptoms. Results from baseline tests (or pre-injury tests) can be used and compared to a similar exam conducted by a health care professional during the season if an athlete has a suspected concussion.

Baseline testing generally takes place during the pre-season—ideally prior to the first practice. It is important to note that some baseline and concussion assessment tools are only suggested for use among athletes ages 10 years and older.

How is baseline testing information used if an athlete has a suspected concussion?

Results from baseline testing can be used if an athlete has a suspected concussion. Comparing post-injury test results to baseline test results can assist health care professionals in identifying the effects of the injury and making more informed return to school and play decisions.

Education should always be provided to athletes and parents if an athlete has a suspected concussion. This should include information on safely returning to school and play, tips to aid in recovery (such as rest), danger signs and when to seek immediate care, and how to help reduce an athlete’s risk for a future concussion.

What should be included as part of baseline testing?

Baseline testing should include a check for concussion symptoms, as well as balance and cognitive (such as concentration and memory) assessments. Computerized or paper-pencil neuropsychological tests may be included as a piece of an overall baseline test to assess an athlete’s concentration, memory, and reaction time.

During the baseline pre-season test, health care professionals should also assess for a prior history of concussion (including symptoms experienced and length of recovery from the injury). It is also important to record other medical conditions that could impact recovery after concussion, such as a history of migraines, depression, mood disorders, or anxiety, as well as learning disabilities and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Baseline testing also provides an important opportunity to educate athletes and others about concussion and return to school and play protocol.

Who should administer baseline tests?

Baseline tests should only be conducted by a trained health care professional such as a physician, physical therapist or trained ATC.

Who should interpret baseline tests?

Only a trained health care professional with experience in concussion management should interpret the results of a baseline exam. When possible, ideally a neuropsychologist should interpret the computerized or paper-pencil neuropsychological test components of a baseline exam. Results of neuropsychological tests should not be used as a stand-alone diagnostic tool, but should serve as one component used by health care professionals to make a return to school and play decisions.

How often should an athlete undergo concussion baseline testing?

If baseline testing is used, research suggests that most components of baseline testing be repeated annually to establish a valid test result for comparison. Baseline computerized or paper-pencil neuropsychological tests may be repeated every 2 years. However, more frequent neuropsychological testing may be needed if an athlete has sustained a concussion or if the athlete has a medical condition that could affect the results of the test.

Many physical therapy clinics have therapists that have been trained in baseline testing software and techniques. Physical therapists can also specialize in return to sports programs for athletes that have experienced concussions.  The decision of when you go back to your sport can be a critical one… especially if you go back to soon. Prevent this by having an accurate baseline available for your healthcare professionals.

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more information can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/

Additional articles from PTandMe about concussions can be found here:

concussion physical therapy   

concussion treatment