Join PT Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better for Walk with a PT

Only one in three adults receives the recommended amount of physical activity each week, according the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. There are countless benefits to maintaining an active lifestyle – reducing risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity. The list goes on, but many Georgians struggle to find the time or energy.

A daily walk is a simple way to incorporate regular exercise into your routine and move your way into a healthier lifestyle. A 30 minute walk is proven to elevate moods, increase energy and creativity and prevent chronic diseases. Something as simple as throwing on your tennis shoes during your lunch break or skipping the sitcom before dinner can drastically alter not only your shape, but also improve your mood and overall health.

To encourage this active lifestyle and educate Georgians about the benefits of physical therapy, PT Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better is hosting the first annual Walk with a PT on Oct. 22 in cities across Georgia, as part of National Physical Therapy Awareness Month.

Georgians are invited to join PT Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better and local physical therapists to walk their way to a healthier life, all while consulting PTs who can give them tips and tricks for proper form to maximize the benefits.

Walk With a PT will take place in Atlanta, Augusta and Gainesville. For more information, check and @PTMoveBetterGA or email

How a Stroke Victim Regained Independence in Recovery

When Doug Deadwyler returned home for lunch on Dec. 1, 2006, he recalls feeling that “something was not quite right.” As he sat down to eat, his intuition kicked in and he placed the cordless phone next to him as a precaution. As he went to dial his parents’ number, however, Doug realized that something was very wrong.

Doug was in the early stages of an AV fistula – a type of stroke that affects the parietal and occipital lobes of his brain. His motor skills quickly become compromised, and while he could still think and speak clearly, he was only able to dial “0” for the operator to connect him with emergency responders. Doug stayed on the phone while paramedics broke down his door.

The last thing Doug remembers was the cold air as the paramedics wheeled him out of his house. He was transported to Emory, where he underwent two lifesaving surgeries and began a long recovery process. After 23 days in the Intensive Care Unit, Doug was deemed stable enough to move into in-patient rehab. His first memory is of Christmas Day when a physical therapist came in with reindeer antlers on to perform his evaluation.

As soon as movement was detected, Doug began the long road ahead of relearning how to use both sides of his body. Therapy began with small movements in his hospital bed. And when leg movement was detected several days later, daily PT began.

Doug’s goal was simple: to walk again.

Early therapies – including speech therapy and occupational therapy – concentrated not only on moving his left arm and improving his cognitive abilities, while Doug’s goal to walk again remained steadfast. A physical therapist visited Doug daily to assist with activities and exercises to strengthen his left leg, which he struggled to move at all. He suffered from “left-side neglect,” meaning his brain ignored all stimuli from the left side – creating an interesting challenge as he navigated his way in a wheelchair.

After Doug established his goals, therapy became a routine part of his life. He met with his PT and other members of his therapy team daily, focusing primarily on strengthening his left side to improve his function. He worked in the parallel bars to build his strength and endurance, eventually graduating from the wheelchair to a walker. Doug’s days of out-patient therapy were long and filled with appointments, but also gave him the opportunity to meet others in the same boat – providing him with additional support and appreciation for his family of caregivers.

His physical therapy appointments were one-on-one, consisting of a program designed specifically for not only his activity limitations, but also his strength and goals. Doug practiced using handrails to go up and down stairs. He practiced on ramps and used equipment to continue to strengthen his left side.

Upon “graduating” from out-patient therapy, Doug progressed to forearm crutches, providing him with more flexibility, as well as leading him one step closer to his long-term goal of walking on his own. Finally, Doug was able to move through narrow doorways and navigate a restaurant. He was free to use either bathroom in his home, rather than the one with a wide enough doorframe to accommodate his wheelchair or walker.

With the introduction of aquatic therapy to Doug’s plan, he began to learn to walk again without the use of a walker or forearm crutches. The flexibility that Doug found in the pool where, if he “fell,” it didn’t have any consequences, provided the push, strength and coordination he needed to begin to walk again independently.

While much of his progress in function peaked within the 6 – 12 months following his stroke, today, Doug continues to use physical therapy on an “as-needed” basis for back pain and building strength. He still attends Promotion classes – The Shepherd Center’s fitness center. He still visits his office twice a week, which provides a regular schedule and routine, as well as a piece of what his life was like before his stroke.

People who suffer an AV Fistula like Doug have a 50/50 chance of survival – and among those, only 25 percent have a meaningful recovery and return to a “new” normal life. Doug credits the quick action of his doctors and therapists, as well as his active lifestyle prior to the stroke, for his remarkable recovery. While his priorities and recreational activities have changed, Doug considers his life meaningful. It never crossed his mind that he wouldn’t “get better.”

Click here to learn more about how physical therapy is an integral component of stroke recovery.

Pain Free Movement with Physical Therapy

Pain management is one of the biggest discussions in the medical community today. The New York Times has dedicated numerous articles to discussing the chronic pain problem plaguing our nation, and campaigns like #ChoosePT serve to educate consumers about the dangers of misdiagnosis and over-prescription of opioid drugs.

This is why we spoke with esteemed physical therapist, Herb Silver, PT, DSc, MBA, to discuss his decades of experience managing – and eliminating his patients’ chronic pain.

According to Herb, many patients often arrive eager to focus on segmented, isolated pain. While, admittedly, his back, head and shoulders also hurt, the patient wants to focus on pain in his neck. Herb aims to eliminate this frame of mind by focusing on the systemic problem of chronic, wide-spread pain. Rather than focus on one area, Herb takes in the big picture with the goal of eliminating the root of his patients’ chronic pain.

A patient should expect his first PT appointment to begin with a standard exam, including an orthopedic, neurological and a manual therapy exam, as well as identifying pieces of patient history that may contribute to chronic pain. Perhaps he struggles with sleeping or anxiety or balancing work and play. Many times, these factors can intensify pain from an injury.

By incorporating a mindfulness of the entire central nervous system, Herb is able to lead his patients into recovery – one free of both pain and pills.

Mindfulness does not suggest that pain is just perception. It incorporates shifts in neurotransmitters as well as an injury or an area that physical therapy can address – which is why it is unique. PTs have the tools to treat localized pain while also being mindful of the central nervous system.

And these “mindfulness” techniques are quantifiable.

When treating an issue stemming from the central nervous system without being mindful of the root cause, the “bear” – as Herb describes it – will keep attacking. Patients begin losing sleep, suffering from anxiety. The brain remains in a state of attack. A PT may recommend something as simple as refocusing throughout the day – focusing on breathing, for example – or may even recommend more elaborate lifestyle changes.

When your brain perceives an attack, it reacts. But by incorporating techniques into daily life to eliminate the “bear,” a patient can eliminate the root of his pain.

Moving forward, Herb anticipates a continuous shift in the medical community to incorporating a holistic approach to pain management, one that includes physical therapy in its core. If you suffer from chronic pain, find a physical therapist near you.

Move More with Aquatic Therapy

When you think aquatic therapy, a picture of an older woman with a flower swim cap and floats is probably what comes to mind. However, aquatic therapy today is considered a safe and effective option for a wide variety of physical therapy patients. From high-functioning, independent patients returning from a sports injury, to 100-percent-dependent, wheelchair-bound patients recovering from a spinal cord injury, and even people living with multiple sclerosis, the “type” of person who may benefit from aquatic PT is endless.

Water’s unique environment enables patients to work on endurance, joint mobilization, stretching, balance, strengthening, gait training and the list goes on – oftentimes with more independence than what he or she may find on dry land. Therapy in the water challenges a patient’s core and stabilizing muscles in a way that may not be activated on the ground.

With the Rio Olympic Games kicking off, and the heat wave to end all bearing down on us, we spoke with Cathy Kramer, PT, an outpatient physical therapist at The Shepherd Center, and Lisa Ruger, the aquatics coordinator at The Shepherd Center, to discuss how patients find relief and recovery in the pool.

Lisa paints a picture of the pool facility at the Shepherd Center, complete with accommodations for nearly all patients and equipped to treat those with huge physical impairments, as well as with adaptive equipment to provide support for the various conditions and wide range of functionality treated.

The pool doesn’t discriminate. From day to day, Cathy may treat a patient who is 100-percent-dependent, hoping to find relief from chronic shoulder or neck pain from sitting in a wheel chair, followed by a teen with a goal of returning to his football team for his senior season.

Aquatic therapy also allows for flexibility in ways many patients or caregivers may not think of – like temperature control. The Shepherd Center’s pool varies in temperature, allowing physical therapists to treat conditions that are temperature sensitive and have different needs, as some patients have conditions that are sensitive to heat and some need the heat to reach their goals.

For patients who are considering PT in the pool, your first appointment likely won’t look too different from another’s – although your treatment plan will be tailored to your specific needs and goals. For example, Cathy explains that she holds the first appointment on land because that is the world we live in, and understanding patients’ limitations on land is key to developing a treatment plan as effective as possible for their everyday lives.

Once in the water, Cathy assesses a patient’s comfort-level as the pool may bring out anxiety in some patients. This may stem from the origin of the injury – a neck injury from diving into the pool, for example – or a drastic change in functionality in some who no longer know how to function in the water.

To prevent over assistance and impairment of natural movements, Cathy starts without equipment. She assesses the patient’s functionality and ability, and from there may add weights to increase ground reaction force or floats if necessary. Sessions and equipment are individualized to each person’s needs.

After determining the best treatment plan to reach a patient’s goals and help him or her gain functionality, Cathy’s focuses on helping the patient feel comfortable enough in the water to work their program on their own or with the assistance of a caregiver.

After reaching their PT goals, patients can continue their time in the pool with community classes. Lisa explains how continuing progress after your PT is “complete” is possible with open swims, community classes and other programs offered at The Shepherd Center. Who knows – you may see a former aquatic therapy patient in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.

Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better. How Physical Therapy, Mobility, Motion and Management can Improve Quality of Life

Staying fit and active is critical to achieving long-term health benefits. And while physical therapists are commonly sought after to treat athletic injuries and assist patients recovering from surgery, the techniques and exercise tools they provide can also help almost everyone improve their quality of life.

Simple daily activities such as cleaning up around the house or going for a run may put you at risk for injury. Abnormal body movements and awkward postures can cause stress on joints and strain important muscles, leading to long-term problems and discomfort.

Physical therapists provide the information and resources that can counteract incorrect patterns of movement and muscle imbalances that can cause pain and alter the way you move.

Regular physical therapy (PT) sessions have also been shown to reduce the risk of injury in everyday activities or sports.

According to a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine of 1,435 NCAA Division 1 female soccer players, those who participated in physical therapy had a 41 percent lower rate of ACL injuries than those who only did regular warm-ups.

Whether you are a professional athlete or simply looking to maximize mobility – PT can help you reach your goals through individual evaluation, personalized plans, and exercises that help build strength, improve balance and restore flexibility – reducing the risk of injury and improving overall health.

Physical therapy can also assist with reduction and management of pain and discomfort that limits movement and serves as an effective tool against a variety of health issues, including: long-term disabilities, fall prevention, stroke recovery, diabetes and weight-loss.

The time for understanding that PT is no longer just a resource reserved for professional athletes or those recovering from injury is now. The health-preserving techniques delivered by physical therapists across Georgia provide the tools needed to improve the quality of life for everyone. Simply put, PT helps you move better, feel better and live better.

Minimizing Arthritis Symptoms by Maximizing Movement

Arthritis can be a debilitating and painful condition that may vary greatly in presentation, but nearly always inhibits safe and effective movement – the very thing that can alleviate or even prevent the condition.

The most common form of arthritis is known as osteoarthritis, which is caused by the deterioration of a joint and typically affects weight bearing joints, like the knee or hip, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). It may be characterized by stiffness after periods of inactivity or pain during activity and when you press on the joint.

With approximately 27 million Americans suffering from a form of arthritis, according to the CDC, there are many treatment resources available – and physical therapy (PT) is one of the most effective.

Physical therapy can provide patients who suffer from a form of arthritis with a number of exercises and resources to incorporate into their treatment plan that not only alleviate pain, but also improve mobility to lead a more active lifestyle. This is particularly important as it is sedentariness that can lead to weight gain, and then arthritis.

For a patient’s first PT appointment, the physical therapist will begin by taking a thorough history, examining your movement, range of motion and strength. From there, the physical therapist will determine the best exercises, movement strategies and, if needed, an appropriate assistive device to improve your mobility while managing your symptoms.

You may be given braces or splints to alleviate stress on particular joints, or advised on an aerobic exercise program that improves movement and can be continued at home. Your PT may even use manual therapy to improve the mobility of a particular joint and function of muscles. Often times, obesity is a contributing factor to developing arthritis, and your PT may recommend an exercise program to help you lose weight safely – and keep it off.

The key to progress is consistency. Working the program that your PT has designed for you is vital to improving your mobility and managing the pain caused by arthritis.

Do you have a physical therapist on your health care team? Integrate physical therapy into your arthritis treatment – click here find a PT near you.

How PT Moved Me: Diana Wynn

Diana Wynn - How PT Moved Me

Diana Wynn was a walker – it was both her mental escape and exercise. She walked four or five miles daily – until she tore the meniscus in her knee.

It was in the MRI that followed when Diana was informed that – not only was the tear confirmed – but Diana had severe arthritis and needed a total knee replacement. Up until that point, she thought her pain was normal – an expected side effect of getting older. She didn’t realize the pain was indicative of a more serious issue.

After completing surgery, Diana began the painful – and in her case, extremely frustrating – process of rehabilitation. For more than three months, her surgeon deemed her a “head scratcher.” Neither he, nor his team, could determine why Diana’s knee remained “stuck,” with nearly no range of motion. She could neither straighten nor fully bend her knee, and was forced to rely on a cane for support when walking.

Diana’s frustration mounted – as did her pain. Her body wasn’t healing, and a revision surgery loomed in the future.

That is until a friend recommended that she try a different approach and see her physical therapist. Diana thought she would give it a try.

Diana arrived at her PT appointment with a three week goal – three weeks until she had to be able to work again to maintain her benefits. And her team got her there.

By listening to Diana and working with her to solve her motion challenges, the PT team fulfilled their promise that they would not leave her in pain. They validated her challenges and took a collaborative approach to promote her healing with soft tissue and joint mobilization, trigger point dry needling and therapeutic exercise.

The knot that was in the back of Diana’s knee that she felt from day one gradually went away. Through hard work, involvement and a more concrete understanding of her healing, Diana amazed her doctor with her progress.

Today, Diana is readjusting to a life that doesn’t involve overthinking every day movement like getting in and out of a car, or going up and down a flight of stairs. As a photographer, she vividly remembers the first time she was able to pull over, get out of her car and capture the light just right – all without pain. Each click of the camera reminds her of just how far she has come.

Diana attributes the difference of night and day in her movement and quality of life to her physical therapy team. While people are often particular about which doctor they visit, a quality PT on your team is just as essential to healing.

If you need to add a physical therapist to your team, click here to find one near you.

PT From Head to Toe: Recovering from a Brain Injury with PT

More than 3.5 million children and adults sustain an acquired brain injury each year, according to the Brain Injury Association of America. A brain injury can result from numerous incidents, including falls, motor vehicle accidents, assaults and being struck by or against another object.

Brian injuries are typically not only traumatic for the patients, but also for family, friends and caregivers whose lives may also shift dramatically – and while the aftermath of a brain injury may be overwhelming, physical therapy can play an integral role in the recovery process toward a “new normal.”

In honor of Brain Injury Awareness Month, we spoke with Danielle C. Bonner, PT, DPT, NCS, in the Shepherd Center’s Acquired Brain Injury Unit, to discuss her experiences with patients recovering from brain injuries. And, according to Danielle, a “successful” recovery from a brain injury comes down to time, patience and hard work – which may be a tough road for patients and their families.

In her five years with the Shepherd Center, Danielle has treated patients with a variety of brain injuries – both traumatic and non-traumatic. The most common characteristic of these patients is that there isn’t much commonality. No two injuries present the same, regardless of the obvious similarities. And because of this, no two treatment plans look the same. Brain injuries are always unique, as are their treatment and recoveries.

When treating an individual with a brain injury, the process begins with an assessment by the full medical team to determine medical stability, identify physical and cognitive impairments and then set priorities. For a recently injured but medically stable patient, this may look different from a patient who has had an extended stay in the ICU. In these cases where the patient has minimal activity in his or her time in the ICU, it is imperative to make sure their heart and blood pressure are stable enough to handle a more active environment.

The physical therapy team then works together to determine a patient’s cognitive and communication abilities to identify the best types of assistance and cues necessary in his or her case – like whether or not a patient is able to follow verbal physical commands or requires more hand-on support. This is partially determined by a standardized assessment is called the Rancho Level of Cognitive Functioning Scale.

Strength, range of motion and balance are then taken into account to determine the best course of treatment – which can look dramatically different depending upon the patient. For some, this means an extended in-patient stay. Others are better suited for an out-patient or day program. And many patients may not even recognize the need for PT until much later in the recovery process when persistent pain or headaches appear. For more patients, cognitive improvements later in recovery may provide them with the insight to know that therapy is necessary to continue to increase independence.

Beyond the initial shock of the injury, the most difficult element of the recovery process, according to Danielle, is often the time it may take to achieve the best “new normal” possible. For many people, it may take years of returning to physical therapy to address a new element of recovery.

What are the most important things to keep in mind while you or a loved one is recovering from a brain injury?

Patience and hard work.

Click here to find a PT near you.

PT From Head to Toe – How PT Helps Keep Your Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, according to the CDC. There are many risk factors that can increase your risk for heart disease, and while some – like family history – are out of your control, the choice to get up and get moving is within your control, and is an imperative step in reducing your risk for heart disease.

Luckily, for the millions of Americans who have developed heart disease in one form or another, a specialized form of physical therapy exists to get you moving now, regardless of your current mobility – acute care.

We sat down with Stephen Ramsey PT, DPT (Cardiovascular/Pulmonary PT Resident), Tiffany Haney PT, MSPT (Cardiovascular/Pulmonary PT Resident) and Erica Colclough PT, MSPT Clinical Coordinator of physical therapy for the ICU Piedmont Hospital (Cardiovascular/Pulmonary resident graduate) to discuss the role of physical therapy in a cardiac rehabilitation program. According to these PTs, whether the patient is “fixed,” “unfixed,” “stable” or “unstable,” – it all comes down to movement. Early mobilization is key.

Recent advances in technology has made early mobilization possible – there are now various methods to support just about every organ so that the intubated patient who – two years ago – may have been sequestered to “let them rest,” are now up and moving one to two days post-surgery. These support methods allow for patients to move leaps and bounds with simple steps.

But what about the patients who are more interested in preventative care – their heart disease has not progressed to necessitating surgery, but still needs to be addressed – what about them?

According to Erica, these patients can also hugely benefit from PT. By gradually increasing mobility, focusing on breathing and diet, heart disease is treatable.

Before you take that first step, do some research so that you’re comfortable with your PT. At your first appointment, ask about their experience with patients like you. Have they found success? To what extent? What are some of the outcomes that have been achieved with their programs? It’s also important to verify that the office has safety procedures in place in the event of a medical emergency. After all, you’re there for a reason, right?

Whether you’re just getting started with PT, or you’re a frequent flier, these PTs agree that one of the key ingredients in a successful outcome (other than a healthy diet), is that you “buy in” to the plan. Your PT has taken careful thought and consideration into designing a treatment plan catered to your specific needs. They have studied your history, discussed your prognosis at length with your doctor and bounced strategies and ideas off co-workers – all with the goal of providing you with the hope of a healthy future.

Click HERE to find a PT in your area, so you can get out and move better, feel better and live better.

“Move Better. Feel Better. Live Better.” Unveiled under the Gold Dome

 Physical Therapy Association of Georgia’s Campaign to Keep Georgians Moving for a Healthier Life will take Center Stage at the PT Day at the Georgia State Capitol on Feb. 24 

The Physical Therapy Association of Georgia (PTAG) is unveiling PT Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better, an educational campaign designed to inform consumers of the benefits of physical therapy (PT) at the Georgia State Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

“What better time than PT Day at the Capitol to talk about keeping Georgians moving?” says Dr. Joe Donnelly, PT, DHS, OCS and president of PTAG. “PT Move Better. Feel Better. Live Better. is PTAG’s initiative to help all Georgians learn about how physical therapy, which is the treatment of movement systems, can help improve mobility, health, fitness and wellness – from head to toe and throughout one’s life.”

PT – often perceived as an injury rehabilitation resource – defines a broad category of treatments that can also be sought for preventative measures. Whether it’s helping adults find the right types of exercises for healthy aging or preventing sports-related knee injuries, there are many types of PT accessible to Georgians.

For example, PT has been proven to help those affected with age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease overcome pain, prevent a decline in and maintain mobility, and preserve their independence. And it doesn’t end there.

Nearly 30 million children and adults are living with diabetes, according to the Center for Disease Control and more than 85 million people have “pre-diabetes,” a condition in which blood sugar (glucose) levels are abnormal but are not yet considered diabetic.

For those already diagnosed with diabetes, physical activity also can reduce the need for medications, particularly for those with pre-diabetes. Physical therapists can develop individualized exercise programs with the best movements suited for the consumer after performing an extensive evaluation.

“It is estimated more than 496,000 Georgians require the care of a physical therapist each year,” says Donnelly. “PT Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better’s goal is to ensure those living in Georgia are not only aware of the numerous benefits of PT, but understand how to find physical therapists who are best suited to support their health and wellness needs.” 

“The messages to the people of Georgia are simple: When you move better, you feel better and, in turn, you live better,” says Donnelly. “No matter a person’s age or area of the body, we are trained in both injury prevention and treatment, meaning the value of physical therapy is always present. And physical therapists work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals to ensure patients’ treatment plans are in-line with their needs.”

In Georgia, consumers can see a physical therapist as an entry point into the healthcare system, allowing even easier access to the many benefits of physical therapy. For additional information or to find a PT, please visit

For more information about PT Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better – Physical Therapy (PT) keeps Georgians moving for a healthier life, visit or

About the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia

The Physical Therapy Association of Georgia (PTAG) is the membership organization for the profession of physical therapy in Georgia and a component of the American Physical Therapy Association. PTAG has approximately 2,300 members comprised of PT’s, PTA’s and Students. The mission of PTAG is to represent, promote and serve the profession of physical therapy.

About PT Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better

PT Move Better, Feel Better, Live Better is a consumer education campaign sponsored by the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia (PTAG). The campaign’s aim is to inform consumers of the many aspects and practices of physical therapy (PT), including how PT keeps Georgians moving for a healthier life.

About Physical Therapy Day at the Capitol

Physical Therapy Day at the Capitol will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24 and invites elected officials, legislators and interested participants to meet with physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students to discuss the benefits of physical therapy services. Those in attendance can participate in a full agenda of activities. The event is free and open to both PTAG members and non-members.