Health Tips Blog

Aquatic Physical Therapy

Aquaticpt

Did you know that Western Reserve Hospital offers aquatic physical therapy at the Natatorium? Our expert aquatic therapy team treats a variety of diagnoses, including joint replacements, arthritis, neck and back pain, tendon/ligament repairs and sports injuries, to name a few. Because the buoyancy of water decreases joint compression and can support and assist in movement, aquatic therapy allows patients to start therapy sooner and exercise with less pain and discomfort. Aquatic therapy is also beneficial when weight-bearing is limited after fractures or surgical procedures.

Our therapy pool is one of the largest in the region at 1,600 square feet with a warm-water temperature of 90 degrees. You do NOT have to be able to swim to do aquatic therapy, as the deep end is only 4 feet 6 inches and the therapist can get in with you for your personalized therapy session. If you feel you could benefit from aquatic therapy, call us at (330) 926-0384 to schedule an aquatic therapy evaluation. A physician order for aquatic therapy will be necessary prior to scheduling. 

The Physics of Proper Posture

Posture Pic

Do you ever wonder why your back hurts after sitting for a prolonged period of time? It could be that you don’t practice proper postural awareness while sitting. Poor posture can be an underlying issue regarding not only neck/back/shoulder aches, but also digestive health, poor breathing and tension headaches.

So what is posture and why is it important? Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity. Proper posture requires good muscle flexibility, normal range of motion in the joints, strong postural muscles, a balance of muscles on both sides of the spine and an awareness of proper posture which leads to conscious correction when needed. With practice, correct posture can gradually replace your old posture. This is important because it:

  • Helps to avoid abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in arthritis
  • Decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together
  • Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions
  • Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy
  • Prevents strain or overuse injuries
  • Prevents backache and muscular pain
  • Contributes to good appearance

Someone who sits with proper posture maintains the following positions:

  • Hips pushed to the very back of the chair with weight evenly distributed
  • A lumbar roll is used to maintain the normal lumbar curve of the spine
  • Both feet are supported flat on the floor or on a foot stool
  • Knees are at hip level or slightly lower; legs should not be crossed
  • Shoulders are relaxed and forearms are parallel to the floor

***Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than one hour***

How can a physical therapist help?

A physical therapist can first and foremost identify that there's a problem with your posture. They, along with their team of assistants, can then help you with correcting your posture by recommending exercises to strengthen your core postural muscles. He or she can also assist you with choosing proper postures during your daily activities, helping to reduce your risk of injury.

Posturegraphic Ptblog

5 Tips for a Healthy, Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

To help you make the most of your 2016 Thanksgiving, here are some helpful tips to make your turkey day a little healthier.

  1. Try using healthy, lower-fat ingredients. For example, use fat-free chicken broth to make gravy and baste the turkey, reduce oil and butter wherever possible and swap desserts for fresh fruit and appetizers for fresh veggies with hummus
  2. Practice “mindful eating” – don’t starve yourself for the big meal, start with small portions, focus on the dishes you really want to enjoy and save the breads and stuffing for last
  3. Not everyone has plenty on Thanksgiving – consider donating or volunteering at a local charity, like the Haven of Rest, to help provide for people and families who are in need this holiday season
  4. Exercise will help you work off the extra calories – whether it’s a football game with the family or just a brisk walk around the neighborhood, be sure to spend some time exercising on this calorie-rich holiday
  5. Avoid the turkey hangover – stave off your post-dinner lethargy by staying hydrated throughout the day and getting some mild exercise immediately after dinner

The Graston Technique

Graston

The Graston Technique is a unique manual therapy treatment that helps relieve the pain associated with injuries to muscles, tendons, bones and joints. This technique involves the use of specially designed stainless steel instruments that help release restricted tissue.

  • The goal is to smooth out the tissue to restore normal tissue integrity and movement.
  • Treatments include the surrounding area as well as the painful area. Treatments gradually get more aggressive to reach the deeper tissues.
  • The Graston Technique is followed by gentle stretching, and may include strengthening exercises.
  • Treatment sessions take about 15 minutes, and the patient is seen for 6 – 8 Graston treatments.
  • Only licensed clinicians certified/trained in the Graston Technique should be performing this technique.
  • More information, plus a video, can be found on the Graston website at www.grastontechnique.com.
  • You can find certified/trained Graston therapists at two of our outpatient therapy locations: Rehab at the Nat, located inside the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium; and Easy Street Therapy, located inside Western Reserve Hospital.

Concussion Prevention

Concussions Bable

Sports related concussions continue to be a topic of discussion in the media these days. As a parent, it’s important to have a good understanding of what a concussion is and how you can keep your child safe.

A concussion is a mild brain injury and should be recognized as such. There are many symptoms of a concussion, and no two concussions are the same. They can cause headaches, vision changes, pain, anxiety, dizziness and can make it difficult for a child to concentrate during school.

The first step to concussion management is preventing it. According to the CDC, prevention starts with creating a safe sports culture. Children should feel comfortable reporting symptoms of a concussion to their coach. Enforce the rules of the game. Proper tackling or contact should be enforced as well as proper helmet wear. If a concussion is suspected, the athlete should be removed from the game immediately. New research has shown that a player who stays in may take twice as long to recover from the concussion as one who leaves the game.

If a concussion is diagnosed, the child should not return to the field or practice until cleared by a physician. Usually, symptoms clear on their own within a couple of weeks. However, if symptoms persist, concussion therapy may be recommended. Concussion therapy may include physical therapy, occupational therapy and/or speech therapy, depending on symptoms. For more information on concussion treatment and prevention, visit the CDC website or talk with your physician or physical therapist. If you need treatment, Western Reserve Hospital Easy Street Therapy offers a program to evaluate and treat post-concussion symptoms. 

Physical Therapy - Integrative Dry Needling

Dryneedling

Do you suffer from pain following an athletic event, after running, or due to a car accident? Back pain after periods of sitting? Dry Needling may help you!

- A fine filament needle is used to reach the trigger points in the tissue that cause pain
- Treatment is virtually painless, but sometime creates a twitch of the muscle
- Performed by a licensed Physical Therapist with special training in the technique
- Helps conditions such as: tendonitis, headaches, sciatica, plantar fascitis
- Reduces inflammation and pain
- Helps with range of motion
- Different from acupuncture
- Covered by health insurance
- All you need is a physical therapy prescription 

Western Reserve Hospital’s Rehab at the Nat and Easy Street Therapy locations offer Physical Therapists who are trained in Integrative Dry Needling. Call (330) 926-0384 (Rehab at the Nat) or (330) 971-7445 (Easy Street Therapy) for questions or to schedule an appointment.

What is a Physical Therapist?

Physical Therapy Assistant

We’ve all heard the term “physical therapist,” but what does a physical therapist actually do? First of all, physical therapists are highly educated, licensed healthcare professionals who can help patients in many different ways to reduce pain, improve mobility and restore function. They are educators who teach how to prevent injury, manage pain and prevent disability. During treatment, a physical therapist may use techniques that include exercise, changes in movement strategies and posture to promote the most effective healing in your body. Treatment options such as dry needling or Graston Technique (using specialized instruments to manipulate soft tissue) may be used to create the best possible outcome.

Physical therapists provide care for people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practice, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings and nursing homes. 

All physical therapists must receive a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure exam that allows them to practice. Physical therapists have the most specialized education to help people restore and improve motion. Today's physical therapist is required to complete a clinical doctorate. 

If you feel you need treatment from a physical therapist, please contact your physician for a referral. As a patient, you can choose the physical therapy clinic where you would like to receive treatment, and Western Reserve Hospital offers three convenient locations to serve you.  

Stenosis

Stenosis Small

We just finished the vacation season, which for many people means traveling. Earlier this year, my family was traveling down to Florida by car. As we were passing through West Virginia, we went through a couple of tunnels. In one of the tunnels, there was some construction, causing one of the lanes to be blocked off. This caused the traffic to slow down significantly approaching the tunnel. This made me think of a common medical diagnosis called stenosis.

Stenosis is a narrowing of a canal in the body where nerves most commonly pass through when exiting a structure. The most common type of stenosis is spinal stenosis, which is either a narrowing of the hole through which the nerve roots exit, or the hole in which the spinal cord itself moves. The narrowing of the canal can be caused by dislocation or instability of the joint, disc herniations or even bone spurs and arthritis in the joint. 

With stenosis, much like the aforementioned traffic example, the narrowing of the canal will cause an impingement of the nerve fibers, which will cause a slowing or a malfunction of those nerve fibers. This malfunction of the nerve fibers can take many forms – pain, muscle spasm, numbness, tingling or even weakness. Stenosis is often exacerbated due to swelling and inflammation, further increasing the symptoms. Chiropractic can help to increase the joint motion and decrease the spasms in the surrounding musculature, which can decrease the pressure on the spine. This decreased pressure can alleviate some of the tension that the stenosis is placing on the nerves as they exit the spine, thus reducing the symptoms associated with spinal stenosis.

Sciatica

Sciatica

Have you ever had pain that moves down the back of your leg? Or numbness and tingling which moves through the leg toward the foot? Well, it is likely then that you were told that you had sciatica. Today, that's what I want to delve into: What is sciatica?

The definition of sciatica is an irritation of the sciatic nerve. This dictionary was never told not to use the word it is defining in the definition. So what is the sciatic nerve? The sciatic nerve is a huge nerve that is a combination of nerve roots, which come out of the spine at L3, L4 and L5 levels. After these nerves combine, they then travel down through the buttocks and into the legs bilaterally, all the way to the feet. Since the sciatic nerve is composed from separate nerve root levels, it can have a variety of different symptom presentations. For instance, if the L5 (the lowest lumbar vertebra) nerve was affected, the pain could begin at the knee and move down the ankle into the foot; but, if the L3 (middle of the lower back) nerve is affected, then the pain will be in the upper portion of the thigh stopping before the knee. 

So now it begs the question, what causes the irritation of the sciatic nerve? A multitude of factors can cause the irritation that leads to sciatica. First, a disc herniation, which we have discussed in a previous blog, can cause impingement of the nerve, which ultimately leads to the irritation. Stenosis is another cause of sciatic nerve irritation. Stenosis is a narrowing of the canal through which the nerve roots travel. We will discuss this more in depth in an upcoming blog. Also, the piriformis muscle can cause irritation of the sciatic nerve leading to something called piriformis syndrome, which we will also discuss in an upcoming blog. As you can see, many of the potential irritants have a musculoskeletal background, which is precisely why chiropractic is the primary treatment option for sciatic-type pains.

Whiplash

Whiplash

Not too long ago, I went to Cedar Point amusement park up in Sandusky. While there, I went on the Top Thrill Dragster for the first time. The Top Thrill Dragster is a roller coaster that begins at a standstill, then accelerates to 128 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds. This intense acceleration and what it does to the body makes me think of a common injury in everyday life: whiplash.

The neck provides support for the head, which sounds like an easy task. But when you watch a baby for the first couple months of his or her little life, you can easily see that the neck is not something to be taken lightly. The muscles and ligaments in the neck include, but are not limited to, trapezius, cervical paraspinal, levator scapula and suboccipital muscles, to name a few. These muscles and ligaments provide significant strength and support for a head which is much bigger than it seems.

Now back to whiplash: The most common cause of whiplash is a car accident, especially a rear-end collision. So what happens to the body in an accident like that? Due to the sudden stopping of the car, the head and neck will move forward (flexion) rapidly, and then due to the seat belt and/or the airbag, the head will snap backwards (extension). The muscles and ligaments, which are mentioned above, are stretched often beyond normal boundaries, creating small tears and irritations in the muscle and other soft tissue in the area due to the whiplash. These irritations will not only create pain, but also spasms in the area as the body tries to protect this damaged area. Over time, the body will heal the area, but frequently the tightness and protective mechanisms will not go away, leaving tightness and discomfort in the neck. 

Chiropractic can help at the time of injury to help decrease the inflammation and aggravation of the tissue, and it can also help to alleviate the tightness and residual discomfort from past injuries.