Moving Hearts, Minds and Joints in Uganda

Uganda 3“As a student of Physical Therapy, I never thought I’d need a machete on the job,” said Allison Stowers, as she laughs with friend and colleague, Hannah Redd. Both young women are completing their final year at the Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions at Georgia State University in the Physical Therapy program.

Stowers and Redd boarded a plane for Africa in the summer of 2014 to join the CURE International organization in Uganda for three weeks. CURE International is a non-profit organization that operates charitable hospitals and health care programs in over 30 countries worldwide. Through the selfless service of health care professionals and well-equipped facilities, CURE provides patients with medical treatment regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity.

Stowers and Redd joined a team made up of foreign, medical volunteers and Ugandan natives to bring hope and quality health care to local patients that often do not have access to modern treatments and surgical procedures in this East African nation. While working with different medical professionals from surgeons to pediatricians, the two young physical therapy students were able to utilize and implement the clinical skills they learned in PT school in a real-world scenario, often with life-changing results.Uganda 5

While working with two certified Physical Therapists in extraordinary circumstances, Stowers and Redd learned skills that could only be applied through actual practice in the field and hard to master in a classroom. Given the lack of medical resources in Uganda, the girls were challenged to improvise treatment techniques and to adapt everyday objects as clinical tools. These lessons were pioneered by PT veterans Dr. Julie Johnson and Dr. Sam Lwanga, both of whom serve in Uganda and all too familiar with hurdling the challenges of providing treatment in a developing country.

“We watched as Sam (Lwanga) took a machete into the bush and cut down branches to try and make parallel bars for a child who could not walk or stand by herself,” said Redd. “It was amazing how he would transform the most simple of objects to aid in a patient’s recovery.”

Uganda 2Both women recall using ‘MacGyver-like’ techniques to help patients. “Once we dug a large hole to teach parents how to position their child to sit  upright instead of laying on her back all day, “Stowers says. “There is little to no money available for proper equipment, so you have to think outside the box.”

The courageous and inventive spirit of Lwanga, in the face of monumental challenges, was a lesson not lost on the young students. “The everyday problems that Uganda patients face is entirely different than what patients in the states could even imagine,” said Redd. “Sam was our guide to Uganda, he engulfed us in the culture and taught us how much good we could accomplish.”

“Julie was also incredibly helpful,” Stowers describes. “She was also far away from home and helped us realize how lucky we were to have the financial and educational resources that are available in America. Her heart and ours were Uganda 1in the same place, we developed a love for the patients we saw and didn’t want to leave.”

Stowers and Redd were also able to pass on the knowledge and training they had learned in PT school back home to local health care providers who have little to no access to cutting edge techniques and physical therapy education. “We all traded ideas on different techniques and creative ideas,” Redd says. “We were able to teach Sam how to use the donated splinting materials as well.”

The disparities between providing treatments in Uganda as opposed to the United States were extremely evident to the students. “We may see a patient once and not see them again for six months to a year or ever again in some cases,” Redd says. “Unlike in the United States, where most children can come back (to therapy) and find quality medical care when necessary, a child’s condition may change drastically and his/ her needs may change before their families are able to seek medical care again.”

“We also had to account for the differences in lifestyle,” Stowers added. “For instance, mothers who live in the rural villages are literally surviving day-to-day; cooking, cleaning, growing food, building structures, raising animals; therefore, proscribing them an in-depth exercise routine for their child was unrealistic.”

Stowers and Redd expressed a sense of nostalgia when reminiscing upon their trip. Redd plans to return in summer of 2015 to work with CURE once again. Stowers is also itching to return to Uganda. After their first week there, the young women both met with CURE hospital leaders to plan a return trip.

Redd not only wants to return because she greatly misses helping the many children in need, but also to bolster the physical therapy education system in Uganda. “There are only two DPTs in all of Uganda and most PTs are at the diploma level. Even the higher levels of education in Uganda are taught by the same professors who teach at the diploma level. Because of this, many who graduate from the PT program don’t feel the need to return to school due to lack of new information to learn.”Uganda 4

Stowers and Redd miss their friends and patients from Uganda every day, but thankfully, they have been able to keep in touch via the CURE blog, CURE Kids. Here, the organization profiles all of their patients and how they are doing, if they end up returning to the CURE hospital or if follow-up care is taken to them.

“At first, I didn’t know if just two PT students could make an impact in Uganda,” Stowers says. “I didn’t realize that we could not only help patients, but we could also help the doctors learn more about new PT procedures. We felt so overwhelmed with emotions about how much we were touching children’s’ lives and ultimately, how much they would touch us.”

“We can’t wait to return and do more,” Redd says. “I want to encourage anyone willing to offer help to do so through CURE. There is such a need for PTs in Africa. In the future I hope to take other PT’s and students over for this incredible, challenging and life-changing experience.”

Hungry for Relief?

What to eat to help your body recover from ailments

It’s almost Thanksgiving and many are busy planning menus for their holiday feast. Listed below are a few guidelines on what types of food to consider adding to your grocery list if your body needs to recover from stress of ailments.

  • Pineapple – Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that helps to reduce inflammation in the body and act as a natural pain reliever. So, consider making a fruit salad to add to your meal.
  • Blue, red and purple colored fruits and vegetables – They contain antioxidant flavonoids that may stop inflammation, tissue breakdown and improve circulation, while strengthening collagen reinforcement. It’s best to eat these and other fruits and veggies raw because these enzymes will break down during the cooking process.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D & K – Calcium builds strong bones and prevents osteoporosis. Vitamins D and K help your body better absorb calcium, so that you can heal quicker. It is estimated that 70 percent of adults don’t get enough calcium in their daily diet. Incorporate leafy green vegetables and dairy products into your meals to ensure that your body gets the nutrients it needs to stay strong.
  • Protein – Without the power of protein, your cells in your muscles would not only deteriorate, but also take longer to get healthy again. Stock up on lean proteins like chicken, turkey, pork and seafood. If you’re a vegetarian make sure to eat soy and low-fat dairy products.
  • Water – Drinking sufficient amounts of water allows nutrients to travel easily through the body, helping organs function better, removing waste and protecting joints. You’ll move better if you stick to water.

Two more surprise food to add to your shopping list if your body’s needs some additional TLC:

  • Ginger – Ginger is a healthcare secret that dates back to ancient times in Asian regions. People use it every day to improve digestion and relieve headaches, nausea and even the flu! Ginger also helps to reduce exercise-induced muscle pain. If your body is achy or you’re feeling under-the-weather, turn to ginger tea or candied ginger for a sweet snack.
  • Caffeine –If you are making sure that calcium is a staple in your diet, caffeinated products like teas, coffees and energy drinks have actually been proven to delay onset muscle pain after a rigorous workout.

After you digest from your holiday feast and if your body is still experiencing discomfort, try relaxing your muscles with a heat wrap or a warm towel rolled around the suffering area, and then stretch those muscles out. The heat will loosen your muscles and reduce the pain. If your pain continues, be sure to consult a physical therapist who cannot only help relieve your pain, but also help you to understand why you are experiencing it. Staying active is always the best way to ensure your body remains at peak condition, so remember to exercise regularly to reduce your risk of future injuries or ailments.

These tips are meant to educate you, not provide a nutritional cure for ailments. Make sure to consult a medical doctor before drastically changing your diet in any way.

10 Helpful and Free Physical Therapy Apps

Smartphone and tablet apps can help physical therapists and patients learn more about their diagnosis and track their progress. They can also show users how to perform exercises with precision and accuracy for quicker and more substantial results.

Although effective, some apps range from $70-$300, making them outside budget constraints, especially since new apps are developed daily. The good news is there are plenty of quality, free apps that aid PT practices. And we’ve put together 10 great ones below in no particular order.

1.) iOrtho+ is your mobile guide for orthopedic information. This App is designed for rehabilitation professionals, educators and clinicians by Therapeutic Articulations, LLC. iOrtho+ is a mobile and comprehensive reference for orthopedic Special Tests and joint Mobilization Techniques developed from advanced, evidence-based knowledge and extensive clinical practice.

2.) TiltMeter, an advanced Level and Inclinometer, is a professional grade angle measurement tool that can be used to measure the angle of extension/flexion performed in exercises.

3.) Shoulder Decide/ Knee Decide/ Spinal Decide is a multisensory learning tool, which empowers healthcare specialists to teach their patients more quickly, efficiently and effectively. The app includes interactive 3D animations that permit you to explore and explain anatomy like never before.

4.) The Physical Therapy Spanish Guide (PTSG) is a tool designed for non-Spanish speaking health care professionals to quickly ascertain vital medical information from their Spanish speaking patients.

5.) Clinical Pattern Recognition is a simple to use, guideline based orthopedic rehabilitation app developed to help students and clinicians hone their clinical reasoning skills regarding examination, differential diagnosis, movement faults, treatments and exercises for low back pain. It involves evidence based pain pattern recognition, hypothesis generator, guideline based classification, patient videos, manual therapy, movement analysis, exercises, special testing and patient education.

6.) Once Rehab Minder Therapy Assistant is installed, it takes the hand therapist about 30 seconds to set up a patient with Tendon Gliding Exercises.

Customizing an exercise program is quick. Create an injury profile by selecting a body part (e.g. Middle Finger, Elbow) and a brief description of the injury (e.g. Fracture, Flexor Tendon Repair). This generates a ‘short list’ of exercises that can be viewed and added to the program. The menu that follows allows the user to add exercises from the entire database, categorized as ‘Non-exercise Therapy, Passive, Assisted, Active and Resisted.’ The therapist can key in any additional instructions from the second menu also with two ‘Write Note’ functions.

7.) FORCE Mobile intelligently recommends rehab exercises and creates custom playlists from a library of hundreds of professionally produced exercise videos. These videos and instructional voice overs are used by physical therapists around the country to treat and prevent injury.

8.) NPTE by McGraw Hill combines the best in class content from McGraw Hill with award winning mobile learning technology from Watermelon Express to present the best in class NPTE prep tool on iPhone and iPad.

9.) Physical Therapy Case Files, a new app in the authoritative Case Files® series, gives you case studies that illustrate critical concepts you need to build and enhance your skills in physical therapy. Each title focuses on a specific specialty area of physical therapy and each case includes a discussion of the health condition, examination, evaluation, diagnosis, plan of care and interventions, evidence-based practice recommendations and references. NPTE-style review questions accompanying each case reinforce your learning. With Physical Therapy Case Files, everything you need to succeed in the clinic and on the NPTE is right here in your hands.

10.) PT Timer Lite: Stretch & Exercise keeps time, counts reps and sets, and tracks your progress. Enter your own exercises and setup your entire workout. Clear verbal commands and chimes keep you going, while you can listen to music or focus on something else. If you are learning a new exercise, then put pictures and notes into this app, and watch them before you start the exercise.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed guidelines to oversee and regulate a small number of mobile apps—medical apps that could present a risk to patients if the software does not work as intended. Make sure you and your patient are aware of these risks before suggesting and downloading  any app that could thwart progress.

All listed Apps may be found in the iTunes store or on AppCrawler.

This information is to better guide PT’s on what each free PT app can do for them. PTAG does not endorse any of the above apps or app providers.

Jump into the Physical Therapy Pool This Summer

Georgia offers its residents beautiful, hot days each summer. While working on feeling better and regaining strength in physical therapy is extremely beneficial, patients often have a strong desire to be outside when it’s so beautiful. So why not liven up PT exercises and take to in the pool?

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the buoyancy of the water supports a portion of your body weight making it easier to move in a pool and improve your flexibility. The water also provides resistance to movements that helps to strengthen muscles. Pool exercises can also improve agility, balance, and cardiovascular fitness. Many types of conditions greatly benefit from pool exercise, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, joint replacements, neurological, and balance conditions. The pool environment also reduces the risk of falls when compared to exercise on land.

Below are some tips from Move Forward to help you have more fun this summer at PT or in a pool near you:

Preparing for the Pool

Before starting any pool exercise program, always check with your physical therapist or physician to make sure pool exercises are right for you. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Water shoes will help to provide traction on the pool floor
  • Water level can be waist or chest high
  • Use a Styrofoam noodle or floatation belt/vest to keep you afloat in deeper water
  • Slower movements in the water will provide less resistance than faster movements
  • You can use webbed water gloves, Styrofoam weights, inflated balls, or kickboards for increased resistance
  • Never push your body through pain during any exercise
  • Although you will not sweat with pool exercises, it is still important to drink plenty of water

10 Excellent Exercises for the Pool

  1. Water walking or jogging
  2. Forward and side lunges
  3. One leg balance
  4. Sidestepping
  5. Hip kickers at pool wall
  6. Pool planks
  7. Deep water bicycle
  8. Arm raises
  9. Wall push-ups
  10. Standing knee lift

Read more about the suggested exercises here.

Physical therapists are available to help you reach your fitness goals while achieving long-term health benefits. Using their knowledge of mobility, motion and management, they can devise safe exercise plans that improve your quality of life, while avoiding the risk of overtraining.

Find a PT in your area to get started with your custom fitness plan.

For additional resources on fitness safety and overtraining prevention from American Physical Therapy Association and the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia visit www.moveforwardpt.com or www.ptagonline.org.

Members in Motion: Physical Therapist and Teen Oncology Patient Work Through Paralyzing Odds

Kristen Wagner found herself in physical therapy after she tore both of her ACL’s while playing basketball in high school. After her surgeries at Scottish Rite and physical therapy through Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Sports Medicine program, Kristen knew she wanted to be a physical therapist.

Years later, after graduating from Samford University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science, she earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta in 2011. Wagner then returned to her roots when she began work as a PT, DPT at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Scottish Rite.

Wagner had always enjoyed working with children. While in college, she began volunteering at the Lakeshore Foundation teaching swimming lessons. She also aided in research involving activity and quality of life in individuals with disabilities. Pursuing a career in PT was the perfect combination of her strengths and interests.

Working with kids can tug on the heartstrings. “No kid should have to go through the things I see every day,” says Wagner. “You are looking at parents who never dreamed their perfect child would ever be facing something like this…their worst nightmare.”

Wagner then met Andrew “Drew” Wade. Drew is a 14-year-old who was diagnosed in December 2013 with Ewing Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer which was on his spinal vertebrae.
“Of all the patients I have worked with, Drew is one who sticks out most in my mind. I think Drew has a great story, and one that is not finished yet. Not only are he and his family wonderful to work with, they also are very complimentary of the experience they have had with Physical Therapy- both with myself and their “home town” outpatient physical therapist.

Drew had surgery to remove the tumor, but was left paralyzed. He began aggressive outpatient therapy in addition to radiation in his hometown of Columbus, Georgia. He was eventually transferred to the CIRU at Scottish Rite, where Wagner became his primary physical therapist.
When Wagner first met Drew, he only had a trace amount of movement in his lower extremities. Wagner started him on an aggressive program that would ultimately help Drew regain movement in his lower body over time.

“Drew met each new intervention with a slight eye-roll, laugh, and eventually fierce determination. He was so motivated to get his legs stronger, and with each new improvement his motivation only grew,” Wagner says. “At the time of Drew’s discharge from the CIRU, he was able to actively move every muscle group in both of his lower extremities, and demonstrate independence with his wheelchair mobility and functional mobility skills.”

Drew’s parents still keep Wagner updated on his progress in outpatient therapy. Physical therapists play a unique role in the treatment of oncology patients. For Drew, the focus of PT was the damage to his spinal cord. “Often times, physical therapist are working to reduce secondary symptoms like fatigue and debility, and always to maximize independence with functional mobility skills,” says Wagner. “As an oncology patient receives treatment and recovers, physical therapists work to help them return to their prior level of function or adapt to new ways of doing things they enjoy.”

Wagner is hopeful Drew will have a positive recovery as he continues his PT.
“There is no question that the absolute best part of my job is getting to see the dramatic improvement my patients make and the level of appreciation their families feel. It is so amazing to have a patient who comes to the CIRU unable to hold their head up and watch them walk out the door. Physical Therapy in the rehab setting is real, tangible change. I literally get to help patients and families get their life back.”

Interested in sharing your story or learning more about Members in Motion — a campaign dedicated to spotlighting members within the physical therapy community? Please send your name and contact information to info@ptagonline.org – we want to hear about your most rewarding moments as a physical therapist.

Nervous About the NPTE?

July 22nd and 23rd are the dates for the summer National Physical Therapy Exams. PTAG has approximately 1,700 members comprised of PT’s, PTA’s and Students; and the students are nervously studying at this very moment (hopefully), so that they may receive certification.

While the test days are approaching, here are some things to ponder:

  • The NPTE is an exam that was meant to challenge you in new ways to show that you have actually learned something in PT/PTA school. The Scorebuilders study system is reported to be extremely helpful. Many users have raved about this system online. If you do decide to purchase the system, use their iPod app to study test questions at every available moment. If you decide not to invest in Scorebuilders, don’t fret. Free practice tests are available online. (Some links below).
  • The testing center may take your picture and finger prints. In some testing facilities a monitor may come through the test hall periodically to check that everything is going smoothly. Security measures may be intense so, but don’t let them distract you!
  • The test questions will be relevant, if you know the material well, you won’t have to guess.

The 2014 NPTE will be up to date on the latest practices and require more clinical reasoning. Study hard and know the reasoning for the answer in all of your practice exams. This can be challenging because many practice exams do not explain both the right and the wrong answers.

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Good luck to all students! If you need to study a bit more, check out these online practice tests:
https://www.ptfinalexam.com/free-physical-therapy-exam-questions-archive/online-test-mode/
http://www.testprepreview.com/npte_practice.htm

Local Physical Therapist Serves Those Who Serve Us

Dr. Ryan DecarreauDr.Ryan Decarreau, a local physical therapist, is making a difference in the lives of those who serve us. Dr. Deccarreau, through a program called THOR3, is managing and training a new type of athlete: the United States Special Operations Soldier. THOR3 applies Sports Medicine treatment and techniques, usually reserved for collegiate and professional athletes, to our soldiers in the Special Forces. This specific model is aimed at improving both mental and physical capabilities of our soldiers to better prepare them for the physical demands linked with combat training and deployment.

THOR3 (the Tactical Human Optimization Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning program) is an initiative sanctioned by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) to provide optimal healthcare and training for our servicemen and women.

“This program has offered me a good opportunity to give back to our military as well as challenged me professionally,” says Dr. Decarreau. “I work with a group of soldiers who appreciate the day-to-day help in keeping them healthy. It has been very rewarding to see our soldiers train like tactical athletes and see the benefits of our program.”

Dr. Decarreau’s physical therapy, sports medicine, and athlete management experience made him the perfect candidate for (THOR3). Over the course of three years at Hunter Army Airfield (Savannah, GA), Dr. Decarreau has been able to expand his skillset beyond the typical requisites associated with civilian sports therapy, while adapting to a multitude of obstacles and challenges that are inherent to his patients’ military duties and deadlines.

Dr. Decarreau notes that while his patients often have to travel – making treatment difficult to regiment– our soldiers have a great deal of discipline, which yields great participation in office visits and even home exercise routines. According to Decarreau, “It has a lot to do with the culture and it is pretty impressive to witness.”

“Through programs like THOR3 and the dedication of physical therapists like Dr. Decarreau, our military personnel will continue to have access to cutting edge healthcare and treatment,” says Barney Poole, PT, DPT President of the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia (PTAG). “We thank him for his dedication to serving those that serve and defend our country. Dr. Decarreau is a worthy representative of our physical therapy community.”

“Overall, it is an honor to work with our soldiers! The group I work with is truly the best at what they do. I am excited to go to work each day to serve those who serve us,” says Decarreau.

Georgia’s PT Educational Opportunities Expand: First Sports Residency Program Participant Certified

Modern Physical Therapy is a far-cry from its humble beginnings at the turn of the 20th Century— and even twenty years ago. The rapid progress of the profession has been spurred by myriad of reasons, such as advances in research, technology, and a growing demand for licensed professionals.  Perhaps the most important factor contributing to the positive evolution of modern physical therapy stems from individual physical therapists seeking post-professional opportunities to improve their knowledge, skills and abilities in a specialty area of practice.

Physical therapists, like those of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), refuse to be complacent, and strive to raise the bar for the profession. Receiving its accreditation from the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Programs in October 2013, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is now the first and only Sports Residency Program in the state of Georgia— and one of the few in the country—dedicated to the care of young athletes.

Led by Julie Johnson, PT, MPT, SCS, CSCS and Program Director, and a team of 19 faculty members, the Sports Residency Program has just certified its first participant. Dr. Kelli McLaren, PT, DPT completed her residency and passed the sports specialty examination given by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, becoming a Sports Certified Specialist.

Dr. McLaren began her residency in August of 2013 and has logged over 2,000 hours of clinical rotations in the Sports Medicine department, community sideline coverage and adjunct didactic educational experiences in other departments of CHOA. The choice to further her post-professional education mirrors a growing trend within the physical therapy profession to specialize since 1985.

Currently, Georgia offers six other residency programs of various specializations through Mercer University, Emory University and PT Solutions. The addition of this specialized certification program to Georgia’s physical therapy education opportunities is a testament to our members’ commitment to professional development, high standards and lifelong learning.

 

To learn more about the new Sports Medicine Residency program, visit our friends at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta by clicking here.

To view a complete list of all available physical therapy residency programs offered in Georgia, visit the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education page by clicking here.

Peer-to-Peer Member Spotlight: Getting to Know Dr. Scott Hasson

ImageDr. Scott Hasson has been in teaching and research for 29 years, and currently serves as the Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at Georgia Regents University.

His active career and dedication to the physical therapy profession earn him recognition as the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia’s May Member Spotlight.

Let’s meet PTAG member Dr. Hasson:

What is your educational background?

I have a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology/Chemistry, and a Masters in Physical Education both from California State University – Fresno. I have a Doctorate in Exercise Science from the University of Northern Colorado, and Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston.

How did you end up in the PT industry?

I already had my Doctorate in Exercise Science and was working as the Director of Rehabilitation in Cheyenne, WY., for a pain management center where I focused on work hardening and on-site training, preparing individuals returning to work.

This was in the very early 80’s and physical therapists and occupational therapists seemed to know very little regarding principles of exercise physiology and motor learning. I realized I did not know enough about pathology, and wanted to move into a more medical focused field.

I considered medicine, but felt I could contribute to physical therapy and perhaps have an impact on the field by promoting exercise science.

I contacted Dr. Helen Hislop at the University of Southern California – after reading some of her work and editorials. She suggested we meet and I flew from Wyoming to Rancho Los Amigos in Downey, CA. Her guidance and advice helped launch me into the field.

Ultimately I wrote the first text on Clinical Exercise Physiology and have been a proponent for Exercise Science as a basis for rehabilitation – especially for patients with Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis – for the past 25 years.

What is the best part about your job?

I enjoy mentoring both faculty and students.

I try to use my network to advance my students while they are here working on their Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), usually by trying to get them affiliations with outstanding clinicians. Once they graduate, I recommend continued growth in the field through residencies, obtaining advanced credentials or becoming PhD’s for those interested in research and mentoring.

I also work with faculty to assist them in realizing and pursuing their dreams in the field. Sometimes it is assisting them in writing their research or in trying to get the financial support for their professional growth or service ideas.

At this time in my career I am here to serve my students, faculty and profession.

Who has been one of the most influential people in your career?

There are two individuals – Dr. Helen Hislop who started me in the field and Dr. Elizabeth Protas, Dean of the College of Allied Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX.

These two women – along with my wife Ellen and three daughters Karen, Annie and Katie – are the reason why I have had success in my career.

My daughter Karen is a DPT who recently sat for her Neurological Certified Specialist exam after completing her Neuro Residency with Harris County Health in the Houston Medical Center.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

People may be surprised to know that I already had my doctorate prior to becoming a physical therapist. Also, that my daughters collect snakes, and now that two of them have moved out of the house, I am the official “Snake Man!”

Do you know an extraordinary PT, PTA or student worth of recognition? Show your support by submitting nominations at www.ptagonline.org/peer-to-peer.

Avoid Overtraining: Staying Safe While Improving Fitness

Overtraining can be a concern for all people pursuing fitness – no matter age or activity.

Regular exercise can help produce long-term benefits, but it is important that all activities are done safely and in a manner that prevents injury while improving physical performance. Pushing your body too hard can result in serious injuries that may be detrimental to your health – and fitness goals.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), overtraining injuries are musculoskeletal injuries that occur due to more activity or exercise than your body is used too – and it can happen to anyone who significantly increases the intensity or changes type of activity.  

Overtraining injuries can include physical injuries, as well as general fatigue and other symptoms. These symptoms can range from physiological changes, such as increased heart rate or blood pressure, to behavioral shifts including decreased motivation, lowered self-esteem or even personality changes.

After a hard workout, it is important to be aware of these symptoms and to recognize any significant changes.

Fortunately, there are a number of strategies to safely – and successfully – improve your fitness. Try following these tips from Move Forward PT, to avoid overtraining injuries:

  • Avoid increasing exercise difficulty level too quickly – Exercise should progress at a gradual pace, try following a structure plan that increases your activity steadily to avoid potential injury.
  • Pay attention to your body: Watch your body for symptoms and signs of overtraining.
  • Ease into it: If you are new to fitness, be sure to take things slow. The lack of conditioning and gradual body build-up can lead to serious injuries including, stress fractures, muscles tears and knee problems.
  • Take a break: If you feel tired, listen to your body. Try lessening your activity or resting to help your body recover after a tough workout.

Physical therapists are available to help you reach your fitness goals while achieving long-term health benefits. Using their knowledge of mobility, motion and management, they can devise safe exercise plans that improve your quality of life, while avoiding the risk of overtraining.

Find a PT in your area to get started with your custom fitness plan.

For additional resources on fitness safety and overtraining prevention from American Physical Therapy Association and the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia visit www.moveforwardpt.com or www.ptagonline.org.

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