Monthly Archives: March 2013

Crusade for Cancer: Physical Therapist Cycles for a Cure

ImageMarietta-based physical therapist Debbi Chartash is an inspiration.

As a working PT – and owner of her own private practice, Debbi Chartash Physical Therapy – she spends her time motivating patients toward recovery.

But outside of her physical therapy duties, Chartash is working for a bigger cause.

When her friend passed away from breast cancer in 1999 at the age of 44, Chartash was left searching for a way to honor her memory.

After hearing about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day events, she signed up in Atlanta and participated in her first 60-mile walk to raise funds for breast cancer research.

Then, several years after her initial 3-Day, another good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and Chartash knew she needed to do more. She set up a team called “Angels for Angels,” which, over the years, has grown to include more than 120 participants and has raised more than $1 million.

The “Angels for Angels” team continues to run strong, and now, Chartash is inspiring and raising hope for another important cause – ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among women, and is the deadliest of gynecological cancers, according to recent findings from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Program of the National Cancer Institute.

“Ovarian cancer is the silent kind of cancer,” says Chartash. “Most women aren’t diagnosed until almost stage 4, and it is critical that we improve this statistic.”

Chartash has a personal connection to ovarian cancer.

Her neighbor is a two-year survivor, as well as her childhood friend who is currently battling stage 3 reoccurring ovarian cancer.

In an effort to combat the disease, Chartash will participate in the annual “Ride to Change the Future” ovarian cycle fundraiser in Atlanta.

On April 20, she will cycle six hours in the hopes of raising $2,400 toward ovarian cancer research.

After participating last year and raising over $1,000, Chartash wanted to become more involved in the event and began serving as a recruitment leader and advocate for the cause.

“The event itself is fabulous because there is so much spirit” says Chartash. “Not only are you helping to raise money for a great cause, but you are also doing good things for your health and body.”

The event started 10 years ago, and is now held in a number of different locations, including Los Angeles, New York and Birmingham.

Chartash will ride alongside a team of participants who will cycle three to six hours in the hopes of raising $200,000.

The lack of early detection tests means it can take a woman an average of six doctor visits before she is accurately diagnosed – and for Chartash, that number is too high. Early diagnosis of ovarian cancer can mean the difference between life and death.

And as she prepares for the cycle, she says she is taking on the challenge in honor of her friends who have lost or are fighting the battle against cancer – in the hopes of inspiring others to get involved and help make a difference.

“I participate in this ovarian cancer ride as a personal way to support my friends,” says Chartash. “Fighting ovarian cancer and raising awareness is my new passion, and it needs support.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the “Ride to Change the Future” cycle event, can visit ovariancycle.kintera.org, or donate to Debbi’s cause here.

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Your Health, Your Choice: Picking the Perfect Physical Therapist

UntitledHealthcare has undergone a series of reforms since the New Year, but the freedom of consumer choice remains an area relatively untouched in ongoing debates.

While it is standard for physicians to provide patients with professional referrals, in most cases, patients are not limited to those recommendations and can choose their own providers – including physical therapists.

There are currently 46 states, including Georgia, that allow you to go directly to a physical therapist without a physician’s referral.

But having the freedom to choose your own physical therapist can be a daunting task.

There are a number of questions to ask and factors to consider when selecting your physical therapist, and with high co-pays, you don’t want to waste time or money on a physical therapist that just isn’t working for you.

Take these several factors into account when searching for the right physical therapist to treat your condition.

Experience

First and foremost, research the background of any potential physical therapist.

Currently, all new physical therapy graduates must earn a minimum of a master’s degree and, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), most licensed and working physical therapists will have a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree by 2020.

And while education can speak volumes about a physician’s knowledge, experience is equally important in choosing your physical therapist. Be sure to ask how many years of experience the therapist has, and use that information to make your decision.

Remember, one isn’t always better than the other, and ideally you would like to find a physical therapist with a good balance of the two.

Also, make sure you are always receiving treatment from a licensed physical therapist.

Physical therapists are licensed by the state in which they practice, and knowing your physical therapist is licensed can ease doubts you may have about the potential effectiveness of your treatment.

If you are receiving care from a physical therapist assistant, be sure they are supervised by a licensed physical therapist.

Specialization

Every diagnosis is different, as is treatment, and it is important to keep this in mind when choosing your physical therapist.

A majority of physical therapists graduate as generalists and go on to earn specialization certifications that allow them to develop skills in specific areas of practice.

Many physical therapists specialize in treating body parts – such as hands, shoulders and knees – while others may focus on treatment that is unique to sports injuries, stroke rehabilitation or pre- and postnatal care.

According to the APTA, physical therapists can also be certified in eight specialist areas: orthopedics, sports, geriatrics, pediatrics, cardiopulmonary, neurology, women’s health, and clinical electrophysiology.

By better understanding different areas of specialization, you can help narrow your choices.

Remember, physical therapy will also involve an evaluation of your current problem, as well as medical issues that existed before treatment to help determine the best approach. Therefore, discuss any concerns up front to ensure your physical therapist carries skill sets you need.

Services

Physical therapy visits are not a one-time appointment. In many cases, patients are required to visit their physical therapists several times a month, if not a week, to receive treatment.

Make sure you are seeing the same physical therapist for every visit to establish a relationship with a single person who knows your case and plan of care.

Also ensure your clinic accepts your insurance plan. Some policies may require copayments for services, so have your physical therapist’s clinic help you estimate total costs.

When looking into physical therapy, it is important to remember that you are in control of your health and your choice. So take the time to find the best match for your needs.

For more information on locating a physical therapist near you, be sure to take advantage of the APTAs simple and comprehensive search engine, “Find a PT” at http://www.apta.org.