Five Things Lily Learned During Manual Therapy Residency

After achieving a Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) and becoming licensed to practice Physical Therapy, some therapists choose to continue their education through additional residencies, fellowships, and/or certifications. These post-graduate programs allow therapists to specialize in focused areas of physical therapy practice.  It can be very different to practice physical therapy in a clinic that treats muscular injuries as opposed to brain injuries, for example.  Or to work with the very old as opposed to the very young.  Therapists with a recognized specialty certification have demonstrated that they have an advanced skill set with regard to a particular patient type.  At Symmetry Physical Therapy, all of the therapists are specialists in Orthopedics, which means that they have advanced training and are recognized as experts in the treatment of the musculoskeletal system.  Even more specifically, each of the therapists at Symmetry holds advanced certification in Manual Therapy, which means that all have advanced skills in the hands-on aspects of Orthopedic Physical Therapy.

The program I chose for my initial post-graduate residency education is called the ‘Institute for Athlete Regeneration’(IAR).  After completing their program, I received a Certification of Sports and Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (CSOMPT).  Moving forward, I will continue through the IAR fellowship program, which will involve two additional years of advanced practice study.   During this journey, there are countless things that I have learned and will continue to learn that are invaluable to my day to day practice.  I thought that it might be interesting to share some of the them…

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Secondary Effects of the Opioid Addiction Epidemic

Did you know that October is National Physical Therapy Month?  The month of October is a period during which the American Physical Therapy Association, along with healthcare organizations and individual therapists across the country, makes a focused effort to highlight the physical therapy profession’s efforts to “transform the human experience by optimizing movement.”  Each year, a theme is chosen for the month that reflects an aspect of how physical therapists utilize movement to improve the health, mobility, and quality of life for their clients.  In 2017, the APTA has chosen to carry forward the theme of last year’s Physical Therapy Month, which is to raise awareness about how physical therapy is a safe and effective alternative to opioid medications for the long-term treatment and management of chronic pain.

Last October, in conjunction with National Physical Therapy Month, Symmetry published this blog – detailing some of the staggering statistics associated with the opioid epidemic being experienced across the United States.   (For another brief tutorial about the effects of opioid use, check out this YouTube video posted by MoveForwardPT.)  Currently, despite the fact that news of the ongoing significant negative impact that opioid addiction wreaks on our health and in our communities, Americans continue to be prescribed opioid pain medications at alarming rates.  According to this annual report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016 prescribers wrote on average 66.5 opioid and 25.2 sedative prescriptions for every 100 Americans.  Rates of prescription vary state by state.  Texans specifically were dispensed 72-82 opioid prescriptions for every 100 citizens!  (This number – alarming by itself – becomes even more outrageous when considering that about 34% of the Texas population is under the age of 18.  That leaves more than 1 opioid prescription for every single adult in the state.)

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National Fall Prevention Day September 22, 2017

September 22nd 2017 is National Fall Prevention Awareness Day.  So what better time to address this common concern among the aging adult population?   Research shows that >30% of individuals over the age of 65 fall every year.  This makes falling the number one common cause of injury and accidental death among this age population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Falls and the fear of falling can cause considerable complications with maintaining independence and community participation, in addition to being tied closely to multiple other medical issues (osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease) that result from declining activity and utilization of assistive devices such as walkers and wheelchairs.

Here is a list of several factors that can either contribute to or reduce a person’s fall risk, as well as some strategies to improve in these areas:

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The Importance of Exercise for Pregnant and Post-Partum Women

Join Symmetry Physical Therapy on Monday, September 18th at 6:30 pm for a free workshop:   Maintaining Your Body During Early Motherhood”

Exercise is known to be beneficial throughout the human life cycle. Pregnancy is no exception. A multitude of health benefits for both women and their developing children can be obtained via physical activity during pregnancy and also after a baby is born.

For example:

  1. Exercise during pregnancy can limit the impact of increased stress on an expectant mom’s muscles and skeleton as her body changes and grows. With any luck this means decreased instances of back pain, foot pain and ankle swelling, as well as other common pain complaints commonly associated with pregnancy.
  2. Being fit while pregnant also increases the likelihood of a smooth labor and delivery. After babies are born, exercise can help moms to regain their pre-pregnancy body weight and shape.
  3. Post-partum exercise is also useful to assist in the regulation of mothers’ sleep cycles, moods and emotions, and energy levels.
  4. Babies in the womb can benefit from their moms’ exercise as well. When pregnant women keep active, they decrease the risk of developing complications such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes that can lead to pre-term births or to birth weights in newborns that are less than or greater than optimal.
  5. Newborn babies have been observed in some studies to be more alert and engaged in their surroundings when they have moms that exercise. Exercising together is also a nice way for moms and babies to bond and spend quality, healthful time together.

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Factors that can Enhance (or Complicate) Recovery from Injury or Illness

We all wish that we could function at our physical and emotional best all of the time. Unfortunately, as many of us are well aware, our bodies have limitations that periodically result in diminished capacity and function.  From general aches and pains, traumatic injuries, stress induced headaches, and general deconditioning due to lack of exercise and to largely sedentary jobs and lifestyles, we expect our bodies to operate and recover under some difficult circumstances.  Our body’s ability to heal and recover is amazing.  But at the same time, there are multiple factors within our control that can significantly impact the recovery process along the way.  So whether you are currently recovering from an injury, training for your next marathon, or simply trying to improve your general health, here are some factors to consider.

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How to Properly Wear a Backpack

It’s back to school time, which means that kids across the country are filling their bags with heavy books and hauling them from class to class. It is important to get an appropriate backpack for kids and to ensure that they are wearing them properly in order to reduce likelihood of back, neck, and shoulder pain and potential injury.

Here are some quick tips to correctly position and carry the load of a backpack.

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Baseline Concussion Screenings

As a service to the community, Symmetry is offering FREE 20-minute baseline concussion screenings:  (Screenings are appropriate for kids or adults age 10 and up.)

* Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017 from 8am-12pm
* Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 from 8am-12pm

Space is limited, so reserve your spot today by clicking on the ticket link! https://calendly.com/symmetryptaustin/concussion-baseline-screening/

Baseline testing is critical to enable the comparison of an individual’s brain and balance function before and after a suspected concussion.

Check out this blog post to learn more about the importance of comprehensive concussion management.

For further information regarding this event, please see this Facebook post.

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Healing Expectations for Different Tissue Types

The human body is constructed from a variety of tissue types, each of which heals at a different rate and responds differently to various exercises or activities.  It is important to know what type of tissue is compromised when injury occurs, in order to appropriately estimate a time frame for healing and to set appropriate expectations for rehabilitation.  Listed below are the most commonly injured tissues that we deal with in physical therapy, along with a typical healing time frame for each.  Considerations for rehabilitation for different tissue types are outlined thereafter.   Please keep in mind that these are general guidelines.  The body’s healing processes can be affected by a variety of factors related to each patient’s individual health history and life circumstances.  Physical therapists will help each patient to make more personalized estimates for their own specific timeline for healing and rehabilitation, and will design each patient’s therapy treatment program to optimize this process.

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Squatting is a Basic Life Skill

If physical therapists were given a dollar every time that someone told us that they were told “not to squat”, we would all have a consistent source of some extra pocket money.  The fact that so many people receive this advice is a pet peeve of mine, and of many of my peers as well, I am sure.

Squatting is a fundamental human movement – one that we humans need to be able to perform throughout our lifetimes.  At the most basic level, regardless of our age, we expect to sit.  This requires squatting to lower our bottoms to our chairs.  Hopefully, then we also expect to get up from sitting.  This requires us to ‘un-squat’, if you will, to push ourselves up to a standing position.  Getting into and out of cars requires squatting.  Retrieving items from the floor requires squatting.  Even more foundationally, we utilize squatting when getting on and off of the commode.  Being told not to squat thus equates to being told not to try to independently accomplish an array of normal movements – all of which are integral to healthy, independent functioning in society.

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Is Your Work Place Causing You Pain?

Do you have neck, shoulder, jaw, or back pain related to your job or work place environment?  Many musculoskeletal disorders are due to poor biomechanics during tasks such as lifting, overhead reaching, pushing or pulling, and/or working in awkward body positions while performing repetitive tasks. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013 non-traumatic musculoskeletal disorder cases accounted for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases.

How do you prevent musculoskeletal disorder in the workplace?

Many companies provide ergonomic assessments in the workplace and might also provide adjustments such as a high-low or standing desks. Our bodies function best when we move frequently, and so remaining in a static position for long periods of time can often cause aches and pains, as well as chronic postural issues. If you have the option of a high low desk, it is best to switch from sitting to standing every 20-30 minutes. If a high low desk is not an option for you, then try to instill the ‘20-20-20 rule’. This ‘rule’ is to get up every 20 minutes and look 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds.  Although a walk to the water cooler would be better for movement, the 20-20-20 routine is a quick way to allow your body to change positions without distracting from your work for too long.  Because it is difficult to remember to change positions every 20 minutes, setting a timer is a good way to prompt you to change positions.  Another way to ward off musculoskeletal disorders is to intermittently perform 5-10 repetitions of one or two simple exercises to maintain healthy blood flow and to condition some of your postural muscles.  Here are a couple of activities that you can readily do at your desk:

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