Monthly Archives: August 2014

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.

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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.