After returning home from the hospital and a stint in the ICU from COVID-19, this once energetic man was unable to ambulate without the aid of a walker or take 20 steps without gasping for breath. Instead of seeing patients, his days were filled with home nursing visits, nebulizer treatments and walking exercises that were not improving his overall health. As a friend and colleague I asked myself, what techniques could I, as a physical therapist, utilize to help this patient recover? As it turns out, PT’s can do a lot.

School Backpack Safety

As “Back to School” shopping begins, it’s important to do your homework to keep your child free from backpack related injuries. Over 5 thousand emergency room visits a year by kids 18 and under are reportedly due to school backpack related injuries.  A major problem – kids carrying heavy loads in their school bags! Studies found more than half the students surveyed were carrying loads that exceeded the maximum safe weight for kids.  Finding the right sized school bag and teaching your child how to properly wear a backpack is just as important as lightening the load they carry to and from school each day. TYPES OF INJURIES A heavy backpack, or one worn incorrectly, can leave your child at risk for injuries like neck, back and shoulder pain. A school bag that is loaded up can significantly load the spine and surrounding joints. Wearing it improperly such as over one shoulder or sagging too low can place added stress on the vertebrae, discs, nerves, and muscles. It can also foster bad posture. WHEN YOUR CHILD’S BACKPACK DOESN’T PASS THE TEST If that school backpack is creating some issues, your child may start to complain of different symptoms. They include: […]

Beyond the Nightguard: How Physical Therapy Can Help TMJ Pain

The alarm clock rings waking you from sleep, you remove your nightguard, yawn, and instead of greeting the new day with excitement, you cringe and grab your jaw. Frustrated with the ongoing pain and soreness in your jaw, you wonder, “Why isn’t my nightguard working?” Suffering from Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) or Temporomandibular Joint dysfunction (TMJ) can be frustrating. But what most people don’t realize is that it takes more than a mouth guard to address the underlying source of the dysfunction. That’s where physical therapy can help. The Temporomandibular joint – the joint where your jaw and ear meet – can often be the site of pain and discomfort. Think of walking with one shoe on and one shoe off, eventually your back or hip will start to feel stress and irritated from the poor alignment of your joints. The same thing can happen with your bite when your teeth and jaw are not properly aligned. Typically, a mouth guard or bite guard, recommended by a dentist or orthodontist, is used to adjust the bite and jaw to a position that helps relieve some of the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ dysfunction. While a bite guard may provide some […]

Campaigning For Healthier Ribs and Better Breathing

With all the media hype about Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s walking pneumonia, I felt the need to discuss how breathing, and our ribs, affect certain movements and even our speech! When reported recently that Hillary Clinton was suffering from walking pneumonia, I had many patients asking me what it was, and how it affected the candidate. Walking pneumonia typically occurs as a result of a lung infection from a bacterial microorganism called Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and of all the types of pneumonia one can contract, it is the least worrisome. Quite often, people who have walking pneumonia don’t even realize they have it and feel like they just have a bad cold. They are rarely bedridden and are able to continue their daily activities feeling a bit “under the weather. This conversation brings up the topic of breathing, however, and when we think about the act of breathing, it’s important to note the correlation between our ribs and taking a breath. Healthy rib movement is essential, not only for breathing, but for everyday movements such as lifting your arms overhead, or twisting. When an illness like pneumonia, or bronchitis, causes coughing or shallow breathing, the muscles surrounding our chest get […]

Pokémon Go Posture: A Virtual Game Presenting A Real Problem

Are your eyes glued to your phone as you search for an animated creature throughout the crowded streets?  If so, you’re like the millions of other casual gamers that have become part of the latest rage –  Pokémon Go!  But playing this game on your smartphone may come with potential  health risks.  The National Safety Council came out with a statement this week regarding safety concerns, urging pedestrians to use caution while playing the game. In a recently released statement, the Council says distracted walking has contributed to over 11,000 injuries in the last decade! As a physical therapist, I note the obvious risk for Pokémon Go players – potential collision with another person or object in the street. But as a clinician who deals with musculoskeletal issues, I cringe as I watch what I will call the “Pokémon Go Posture” that users demonstrate while playing. THE “Pokémon GO POSTURE” What is the Pokémon Go posture? As people walk the streets focused on their phones engulfed by this latest craze – observe their posture. They are holding the phone up in front of their body with their shoulders and elbows in a sustained position and their head pitched forward as […]

The “Head Game” with Headaches

Headaches can be caused by a number of reasons that should first be ruled out by your physician. Certain headaches however can be brought on by a disorder called temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) that may also involve your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). These conditions often involve hyperactive muscles near your jaw. Tension in muscles in this region can contribute to headaches. For instance, if you have tight shortened muscles under your chin, this can create a “tug of war” with the muscles that try to raise your jaw up. This tension can cause pain along the scalp and upper forehead region. One study involving headache sufferers showed that nearly 81% of headache patients in the study presented with pain in the masseter muscle and over 47% had temporal muscle pain. (Those are muscles near your cheek and head). Poor posture along with tightness and weakness in the neck and upper back muscles can create a dysfunctional pulley system as well around your jaw, neck and scalp. This can leave you with pain in your head which can, quite literally, be a real pain in the neck.  Take my advice, and sit up tall while reading the rest of this! A  Physical Therapist […]

Sidelined: the ACL

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries is often referred to as the “Mother of all injuries”. It can knock athletes out for a season and leave them hesitating from pivoting ever again. Skiers, basketball, football, lacrosse and soccer players shutter at the sound of this three letter word knowing a 6-9 month rehab is following this injury. ACL tears usually occur after an awkward landing or a pivoting motion on a planted foot. Hard hits also contribute to this injury but nearly 80 % of ACL injuries are caused by non contact. Training the muscles to fire properly in the legs and working on form can hopefully keep ACL’s from sidelining you. When ACL Is a Pain The anterior cruciate ligament is a fascial band in the knee that connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia) . It provides stability to the knee, controls rotation, and along with the hamstrings keeps the tibia from translating too forward on the femur. Studies show the ACL is under more stress when the knee is straight or bend 5 to 20 degrees and is exposed to an inwardly directed force. (Think “knocked knee position”). If the force exceeds the tensile strength […]