The adult human body is made up of 206 bones. (We’re born with 270, but over time, as we grow, some fuse to give us 206 around the time we turn 30.) Unfortunately, many of those can break or fracture, leading to a cast in order to heal. So what happens after the cast is removed? What is necessary in order to return to normal activity?
A variety of factors will affect the length of time needed to heal, as well as how physical therapy will help you regain your pre-injury range of motion and level of activity.
The American Physical Therapy Association, or APTA, points out that there are several levels of bone fractures. The simplest is defined as a non-displaced fracture. This means that the bone may be broken, but the pieces are still properly aligned within the body.
From there, more complex fractures range from fractures that only include one break but are not properly aligned (displaced fractures), to a bone having multiple fractures, the fracture(s) affecting the soft tissue around the break, or even the fracture piercing the skin. The more complex the fracture, the longer it will take for the bone to heal, which will mean activity will be curtailed for a longer time, increasing the possibility that physical therapy will be necessary to regain function.
Another factor is where your fracture has occurred. For example, with a wrist or elbow fracture, it may be easy to walk around, but you will most likely have to limit the use of your wrist and arm. Your physical therapist can be of great help even while your arm is still in a cast, adapting your exercise regimen to remove any stress to the affected bones.
After the cast is removed, says the APTA, it’s normal to have some pain and stiffness in the affected area. Physical therapy can help you to regain strength and range of motion, allowing you to return to your previous level of activity.
Lower extremity injuries, i.e., fractures below the belt, are more difficult to come back from — when you have a cast on your leg or even a walking boot, your mobility is more limited. Once you have been fitted with your cast, your physical therapist can teach you how best to move around given the limitations of your cast.
When the bone is fully healed and the cast is removed, your PT will work with you to start putting weight on the affected leg, building up to a regular walking gait with your full weight on both legs. Physical therapy will include a strengthening regimen to regain any muscle that was lost while the bone was healing. Eventually, this will lead to a release from PT and a return to your pre-injury levels of activity.
Keep in mind that every fracture and every patient is different. Be sure to follow the directions from your physician and physical therapist carefully in order to recuperate safely. And if you have any pain for an extended period of time, whether while in a cast or after it has been removed, talk to your doctor about what might be the cause.
Like most exercise, cycling offers mental and emotional benefits that help individuals cope with stress, even when you’re on a stationary bike. “And cycling is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, which in itself can help individuals feel better emotionally!” Anna adds.
If you’re serious about committing to regular bike riding, Anna recommends going to the local bike store to choose the proper bike. Consult with the staff about the type of bike that might be best for you, a road bike, mountain bike or a hybrid, based on where you’re planning to ride. And, adds Anna, they will make sure that your bicycle is properly fitted to your body.
Anyone new to cycling must have the proper safety equipment if they will be riding outside, as they’ll be sharing the streets with cars, pedestrians and other bicyclists, reminds Anna. Your bike should be fully equipped with safety features like reflectors and flags in order to be visible, especially at night. Check the air in your tires regularly in order to keep them fully inflated. And make sure that you have the appropriate gear to protect yourself, including a helmet, reflective vest and gloves.
When you’re going out on the road, says Anna, be sure to choose a route that you’re familiar with. This will give you confidence while riding, making the ride less stressful. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings, especially other motorists and traffic. And make sure to use hand signals to let others know where you’re going.
Lastly, have fun! Cycling allows you to enjoy the scenic route while bettering your health. And that’s something to celebrate.
We all get into bad habits in our life, in one way or another. Perhaps you don’t talk to your grandmother enough. Or you eat too much fast food. Or you stopped working out. Setting resolutions for the new year is a good way to try to work on these bad habits.
There are many habits that can be damaging to your health, but here are five resolutions you can make for the new year to improve your health.
Evaluate your eating habits.
Have you been skipping breakfast? Snacking constantly instead of sitting down to dinner? Picking up food on the go instead of cooking at home? These are all habits that can cause us to gain weight and damage our health. Take a look at the latest guidelines recommended by the Department of Agriculture and Health to compare to your eating habits.
If you feel that a complete overhaul is too challenging, change one habit at a time, like making sure to eat breakfast, even if it’s a smoothie or a cup of yogurt. Or pledging to not buy any afternoon snacks for the pantry. Or cooking at least one healthy, sit-down dinner per week; you can always find a recipe that will make leftovers to cover your family for another dinner or two.
Calculate how much television you watch.
A study published last year found that watching more than three hours of television a day correlates with lower levels of mental acuity. Other studies have found that extended hours in front of screens can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure. And if you’re watching with your kids, it’s been shown that children who watch more television at a younger age develop language more slowly and have more problems connecting socially with their peers. If you want to escape into another world, consider picking up a book.
A study found that reading stimulates the brain over time — the excitement you feel when sympathizing with a character lingers for days. Samantha Olson at Medical Daily notes, “Researchers believe this prolonged and measurable brain boost, which was found in the region associated with language and sensory motor skills, could improve brain connectivity over time. It brings using books as an escape to a whole new level.”
Of course, both reading and television are sedentary activities, which leads us to resolution number three:
It might sound like a lot, but they do point out that if you went to see a movie, it would take the same amount of time. And you don’t need to do it all at once; even 10 minutes at a time is better than nothing. If you’re trying to start a new habit, find a friend to do it with you — it’s been shown that if you schedule a class or walk with a friend, you’re much more likely to stick with it. And you get the added benefit of social activity, which improves your mental health. It’s a win-win!
If you’re anxious about starting to work out after a long drought or injury, consult with your physical therapist. A PT can do a wellness evaluation to determine if you’d need to adapt any physical activity, and some even offer fitness programs within their own clinics. Look for a Physiquality member near you with our clinic locator.
Take care of your teeth.
The American Dental Association recommends visiting the dentist for a cleaning and check-up at least once a year, if not twice. You should brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily in between those appointments.
So you’re brushing your teeth and flossing regularly. You don’t have any pain. Why should you go for a check-up? Because dentists can catch problems before they turn into something painful, both as physical pain and economic pain. Look at it this way: Filling a cavity is much less expensive than a root canal.
Get more sleep.
Most adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night, but many people don’t get nearly that much. A lack of sleepcan affect your mental and physical health. It is associated with increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and system-wide inflammation. Lack of sleep can also affect our immune system, our cognitive abilities (i.e., our mental capacity), and our mood and mental health. By getting a good night’s rest, your body can recuperate from a hard day’s work, giving you more energy to get up and get going in the morning.
Every few years, the Departments of Agriculture and of Health and Human Services analyze their nutritional recommendations and release a new set of guidelines. If you don’t feel like reading through the three chapters and 14 appendices of the latest release, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, nutritionist and personal trainer Anna Dark will take you through the latest changes and updates.
Limit your added sugar intake to 10% of your daily calories. This refers to any product or food item that adds sugars, like soda or cookies, as compared to fruit or even vegetables that may naturally contain some sugar. As the New York Times points out, “It is not the natural sugar in dairy foods and fruits that undermine health so much as the sugars added to foods like ice cream and fruit drinks and the enormous array of dessert and snack foods that Americans consume.”
This trend of increasing sugar in our diet is one of the reasons that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing. Anna points out that by limiting added sugar, we can reduce our chance of developing the disease.
Reduce your daily sodium intake to less than 2300 mg/day. This is another recommendation that isn’t too surprising; many processed foods rely on sodium, or salt, to improve flavor. The convenience can come at a cost: High sodium intake has a direct correlation to high blood pressure. Anna reminds readers that achieving healthy blood pressure numbers is an important goal for optimal overall health!
So the guidelines recommend limiting salt, added sugar and saturated fats. While this is the first time that the USDA and the HHS have specifically outlined these limits, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Past guidelines have always emphasized fresh fruits and vegetables over fatty and processed foods.
One recommendation that has changed? The guidelines no longer advise a specific cholesterol limit, Anna notes, because after several studies, the scientists and nutritionists did not find enough evidence to give a specific limit. The guidelines do recommend limiting cholesterol, but note that foods often high in cholesterol are also high in saturated fats, so by limiting one, you’ll often limit the other. The exceptions to this rule are eggs and shellfish, which means that those foods would not be as limited as they were before.
As always, these guidelines are just a guide, not hard and fast rules. They are meant to give Americans tips on how to improve their diet and eat healthier food. This version even includes sample days for three different types of diets: An American diet, a Mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet. It’s one way to evaluate your own choices to consider whether you’re making healthy choices whenever you eat.
As we grow older, our bodies change. While it may sound counterintuitive, staying activeis the best solution when our joints start to ache and our energy starts to fade. (Isaac Newton probably had no idea he was also talking about the human body when he explained that a body at rest stays at rest, and a body in motion remains in motion.)
In addition, if you’re exercising incorrectly or compensating because of pain, you’re at risk of doing more harm than good. “Doing the wrong exercise or doing an exercise incorrectly can result in more pain or even joint damage,” notes Kristina Holland, a physical therapist assistant at Clinton Physical Therapy Center in Clinton, Tennessee. Physical therapist Jessica Loncar agrees. She points out that exercise in a safe, controlled environment under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist goes a long way toward improving quality of life. A STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor and Instructor Trainer for MERRITHEW™ (a Physiquality partner), Jessica reminds us that physical therapy is good for improving strength, balance, mobility and overall fitness.
Pilates exercises are designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance the muscles around the joints, with a focus on core stability, pelvic and shoulder girdle stabilization, neutral alignment and breathing. Pilates and physical therapy go hand in hand in teaching efficient movement patterns, which will keep us healthy as we age, explains Rachelle. Because Pilates focuses on proper back alignment and strengthening and lengthening the spine, she says, the back becomes stronger, preventing early wear and tear and reducing pain, as well as the risk of injury. This is key to staying active as one ages, as back pain often causes people to quit exercising for fear of further pain.
Many physical therapists often incorporate Pilates into their rehabilitation programs because of how it can be used to strengthen the body and improve flexibility with low-impact exercises. Mika Yoshida, a Pilates instructor at the Take Charge Fitness Program atClinton Physical Therapy Center, notes that this is especially beneficial after an injury or joint surgery, when one often loses range of motion in the affected joint. And while some of her students blame their lack of flexibility on their age, Mika reminds them that incorporating Pilates exercises into their daily or weekly regimen can improve their flexibility, regardless of their age.
If you’re dealing with joint pain or haven’t exercised in a while,Pilates is an excellent way to ease back into a more active lifestyle. A certified instructor like Jessica will know how to adapt exercises for your specific body and work with you to grow stronger. And if you take a class at a physical therapy clinic, you may end up with a physical therapist like Rachelle teaching your class. This means that she’ll zero in on any musculoskeletal weaknesses you have, and, if you need it, recommend coming into the clinic as a patient.
Practicing Pilates, says Mika, is like maintaining your car: You get an oil change for your car so that it can run for another 5,000 miles. You practice Pilates so that your body continues to move efficiently for years!
The goal of rehabilitation therapy is to improve a patient’s health and wellbeing after an injury or illness. It’s a broad umbrella term that covers a variety of therapies. At PTPN, the parent company of Physiquality, therapists fall into three categories: physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech/language pathology, sometimes referred to as speech therapy.
Physical therapists are experts in biomechanics and the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. In other words, says Randy Gustafson, the owner and director ofMesa Physical Therapy (a Physiquality network member in San Diego, California), “Their advanced degree focuses on learning everything about how the body moves.” Physical therapy incorporates specific exercises to strengthen muscles and improve function. Therapists utilize an integrated approach that includes modalities and manual therapy, he adds.
The word “occupation” in occupational therapy refers to any activity that a person spends time doing. Occupational therapist Michelle Kessell, who also works at Physiquality clinic Mesa Physical Therapy in San Diego, explains that “occupational therapy focuses on helping people get back to the daily activities with which they occupy their time,” often described in medical terms as activities of daily living, or ADLs. This can mean helping an injured employee get back to work, retraining patients on how to groom themselves, or helping people slowly get back to their favorite hobby.
Patients are referred to occupational therapy when they suffer pain or functional limitations due to a particular disability or disease, as well as after trauma, surgery or laceration. The American Occupational Therapy Association defines the practice of OT as having a holistic perspective, in which therapists adapt the environment or task to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team. OTs often evaluate a client’s home or workplace in order to recommend adaptive equipment that will improve quality of life, while giving guidance on how best to use the equipment and adapt daily activities to the client’s limitations.
Speech-language pathologists assess and treat a variety of disorders related to communication and swallowing. They might work with children who need help as they develop communication skills, or with adults who have impairments after a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or brain injury, hearing loss, or progressive neurological disorders, explains speech-language pathologist Jan C. Key, who works at Pacific Therapy Services, a Physiquality network member in southern California.
SLPs work in a variety of settings, depending on the type of treatment they give. Those that work with children might work in a private practice or educational setting. Others work in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, focusing on functional skills. Some even consult with companies on communication, teaching the staff a variety of skills, including voice control, social communication and diction.
Many therapists also complete extra education and certification in order to specialize. Physical therapists might focus on oncology patients, women’s health, or geriatrics. Speech-language pathologists might get certified to treat child language and language disorders; occupational therapists can earn special certifications in mental health or treating low vision.
Some specialties can apply to multiple licenses. For example, both physical and occupational therapists can earn certification as a hand therapist, like Michelle. CHTs help patients regain their fine motor skills by treating everything from the tip of the finger, or the wrist and elbow, all the way up to the shoulder, she explains. And treating swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia, can be done by both occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists.
At the end of the day, these therapists work to help people feel better and live better lives.
With margins in elite competitions getting smaller and smaller — Usain Bolt won his gold medal in Rio by running the 100 meter dash 0.08 seconds faster than Justin Gatlin — many advanced athletes, particularly in track and field, are constantly looking for ways to grow stronger and improve their times.
Overspeed training is one way that runners (and other athletes) try to strengthen the muscles used in short bursts of movement, by using some type of external assistance to run faster than one normally would run, about “8% to 13% faster than the athlete’s fastest speed.” Daniel Butler, a clinical exercise specialist at the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center (a Physiquality network member in Tennessee), explains that there are several ways to do this. Tail wind running is the simplest method, running with a wind at your back. Similarly, slight downhill running is running down a hill with a slight grade. (A study in 2008 used NCAA sprinters to determine the best grade of hill for improving sprinting times; the authors concluded that a hill with a grade of about 5.8 degrees was optimal for improved performance.)
For more intense athletes, towing machines pull the runner down the track at a slightly faster pace than his normal rate. Runners have also used anti-gravity equipment like that from AlterG, a Physiquality partner, as well as wind tunnels, parachutes and speed harnesses. Chelsea Cole, a physical therapist assistant at Clinton Physical Therapy Center, cautions that athletes trying these types of methods should do pre-testing to determine maximum limb speeds and target speeds before training, and advises that any of these training methods should be created and supervised by a professional to ensure safety.
Daniel also notes that using pre-activation, or potentiation, exercises before sprinting has been shown to improve running times. “The exercise performed before the sprint would be selected for its ability to activate the target muscles without overly fatiguing them, allowing the muscles to fire more effectively and the athlete to sprint faster,” he says. John Shepherd, a coach for Team Great Britain, explains in an article how this has been done by other athletes: “To provide a potentiation example, the 30m sprint performance of athletes from various sports, including football, handball and basketball, was improved by performing 10 single repetitions at 90% of their 1 rep maximum 5 minutes before the completion of the sprints.”
Mark also notes that overspeed training often causes eccentric muscle damage, which usually presents as soreness in the quadriceps (thigh) muscles and can be painful to the touch. To minimize such pain, Mark recommends that these techniques be introduced into any training program gradually, combined with other pre-conditioning and strengthening exercises. Daniel also emphasizes that overspeed techniques should be used only by advanced or elite athletes, as beginner to intermediate runners and athletes would see more results from perfecting their technique and form (as noted by Mark above) and building their explosiveness strength.
Getting older can be scary. We worry about weaker bones and osteoporosis. We worry about losing our balance and falling, which can lead to serious injury. And many of us worry about losing our memory. Older adults and their family members should know that there is a difference between becoming a little more forgetful (what some elders call their “senior moments”) and the early signs of dementia.
Dementia is more than being forgetful; it’s categorized by the loss of cognitive skills, or the way that a person can consider and make decisions. The National Institutes of Health explain that compared to mild forgetfulness, dementia impacts daily life, interferes with decision-making, and affects every-day tasks. Dementia can affect “memory, language skills, visual perception, and the ability to focus and pay attention.” It is caused by damage to brain cells; when the brain’s cells can’t communicate properly, the way we navigate the world around us is affected.
Unfortunately, most causes of dementia are irreversible.Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for as much as 80% of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s causes permanent changes in the brain, affecting short-term memory and learning at first, and eventually causing almost complete memory loss.Other irreversible causes of dementia include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease. Some people have a combination of conditions that cause the dementia, referred to as mixed dementia.
If you or a loved one is concerned about recent memory loss, the Alzheimer’s Association has posted 10 early signs that you might be at risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If you are starting to feel confused when you solve problems, have issues completing familiar tasks at home or at work, or feel yourself withdrawing from work or social activities, it may be time to talk to your physician about whether you’re at risk for dementia.
While irreversible dementia isn’t curable, the process can be slowed with both medications (prescribed by your doctor) and some types of rehabilitation therapy. Specially trained speech-language pathologists help patients with dementia and memory loss retain cognitive skills as long as possible. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the professional organization of speech-language pathologists, SLPs focus on the “cognitive aspects of communication, including attention, memory, sequencing, problem solving, and executive functioning.”
Others on the rehabilitation team can also help people with dementia. Occupational therapists can help to set up safe environments without obstacles; if the person is still living at home in the early stages of dementia, an OT can do an assessment to reduce the risk of falling and remove the risk of dangerous items (like flammable liquids or the use of the stove). OTs and SLPs can create a home environment where reminders are posted about daily tasks, helping the patient to remain independent for as long as possible. Andphysical therapists can work with the person to keep her physically active for as long as she is able, which can also contribute to slowing down memory loss, while reducing the chances of falling.
Surf’s up! The beaches are full of bikinis and surfboards. While communities in popular surfing areas like Southern California and Hawaii may surf year-round, summer is often a time when people new to the sport hit the water.
Whether you’re a newbie like Johnny Utah, on a board for the first time, or a seasoned surfer, there are a few things to remember in order to reduce your chance of injury, in and out of the water.
According to Hunter Joslin, a lifelong surfer and the creator of the Indo Board, “surfing is a great sport that utilizes the entire body, from paddling out to the lineup and catching a wave to standing on your board and balancing while maneuvering the board through your ride back to the shore.” For many beginners, simply standing on the board in the watertakes a great deal of work and practice.
One way to improve your stability while surfing is to work on your core strength and balance. Hunter recommends a thorough, out-of-water regimen for all surfers that includes planks, push-ups, pull-ups and squats. This strengthens the neck and shoulders, abdominals and core, and the entire leg.
Adding an unstable foundation to these exercises, like the Indo Board (a Physiquality partner product), challenges these muscles while exercising the body’s balance control systems. Using this tool creates an moving surface that mimics the instability you’d feel in the water, helping strengthen the key muscles necessary for surfing. This is why many surfers, like pro surfer Ben Skinner (seen in the video below), use the Indo Board to train at home.
If this is one of your first times hitting the waves, be prepared before you leave the house. Multiple surfing sites recommend checking the forecast, as you’ll want to know how strong the wind and currents will be — and you’ll want to be out of the water if a thunderstorm hits (lightning strikes are a serious threat, particularly in salt water). Regardless of the weather, you’ll want to wear sunscreen and a rash guard; if you’re in a cooler climate, consider a wetsuit. And make sure to tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back, or, even better, go with a friend.
Once you’re on the beach, be aware of surfer etiquette. Respect your fellow surfers by being aware of them and taking your turn on the waves, and help those that are having trouble returning to the shore. If other surfers are nearby in the water, make sure to communicate where you are to them in order to avoid a collision. Never litter or leave anything behind — the beach and ocean should be as clean or cleaner when you leave compared to when you arrive. And know the local surfing laws to make sure that you’re following all of the rules. Many beaches require leashes on all boards to protect everyone in the water; check with local lifeguards to make sure you know what’s expected of you before you dive in.
When pondering the parameters of pregnancy, there are many things that expectant mothers will research in order to be as healthy as possible. It can be confusing to consider how much weight one should gain while pregnant, as the recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council of the National Academies give different ranges based on the pre-pregnancy weight of the mother.
Ann Cowlin, the creator of Dancing thru Pregnancy, one of Physiquality’s partner programs, points women to the paper they published in 2009 for their recommendations: An underweight woman (with a BMI of less than 18.5) should gain 28 to 40 pounds. A woman of average weight (a BMI between 18.5 and 25) should gain 25 to 35 pounds. Women considered overweight (BMI of 25 to 30) or obese (BMI is more than 30) should gain less weight, 15 to 25 pounds, or even less if obese (11 pounds).
Most of us don’t usually know our BMI, so if you want to calculate it, use the one posted by the National Institutes of Health. And keep in mind that a) BMI doesn’t take into account your fitness level, only your weight and height, and b) it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor about the proper weight gain for your body.
When considering your weight gain during pregnancy, there are a few things to note:
It’s rare to gain a great deal of weight during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, or the first trimester. This is often due to nausea or vomiting, as well as a lack of appetite.
In the second and third trimesters, the average woman gains about a pound a week, especially after week 20.
Your doctor may use ultrasound, along with your weight gain, to assess the baby’s health as your pregnancy develops. (Be prepared for stepping onto the scale a great deal over these nine months.)
Ann explains that pregnant women need to eat a balanced diet that includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. She adds that women don’t necessarily need to add extra calories during the first trimester, but by the second trimester, they should be eating roughly an additional 300 calories a day, and an additional 500 by the third trimester.
There are several ways to add in these additional calories, says Alyssa Cellini, a nutritionist with ProCare Physical Therapy, a Physiquality network clinic in New Jersey. Alyssa suggests increasing the protein servings at all meals and adding fruit as an extra snack when hungry. The goal, she says, is to keep a healthy ratios of fruit, vegetables and protein, just in slightly larger amounts.
If you’re having problems with nausea in the morning, Alyssa suggests protein, then fruit, one serving at a time, until lunch. Then you can eat a more balanced meal of protein, vegetables and starch, followed by fruit or healthy fats (i.e., avocado, olives, etc.) as an afternoon snack.
If you are planning on or have become pregnant, you should talk with your obstetrician about realistic weight gain expectations and fitness regimens. Just remember that ahealthy mama is more likely to have a healthy baby.