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What Brings You to Physical Therapy Today?



When you kick off a new project at work, chances are you spend a fair amount of time setting and reviewing goals. These goals help you—and those you’ll be working with—get a clear sense of what you’re looking to achieve and begin to map out a plan of attack. Along with specific goals, you also probably find it helpful to set some key milestones to ensure that you stay on task and to prevent your motivation from waning.

These same principles apply when going to physical therapy for an injury. Communicating what you hope to get out your therapy sessions can help your physical therapist to individualize the treatment plan and design an exercise program that aligns with your goals. The idea is to move from “I’m here because my knee hurts” to “I’d like my knee to feel better so I can get back to doing X, Y and Z.”

Let’s talk about a concrete example to illustrate goal-setting in action: A father of three ruptures his Achilles tendon while playing a game of pickup basketball after work. When he lands in rehab, he explains to his PT that he’s due to walk his oldest daughter down the aisle at her wedding in a few months. This gives the PT a specific goal—and a timeline—to aim for. Of course, not every patient has a goal tied to such a momentous occasion. It can be as simple as carrying your groceries to your car unassisted or lifting your grandchild into a high chair. Either way, it’s important to have goals—and to communicate them clearly to your physical therapist.

Your PT wants you to get better but without the right guidance from you, he might default to following a checklist and design a program that unknowingly misses your goals. Only you know precisely what you want out of PT: If you have a wrist injury and getting back to your knitting hobby is important to you, then be specific! Another patient could come in with the same injury but have completely different goals, so guide your PT to help you achieve what’s most important.

Proper communication ensures success, and that means you can’t passively participate in your care and simply listen to what the PT recommends. Instead, communication needs to be a two- way street. So next time you’re at physical therapy, speak up: Make sure that your PT knows precisely why you’ve made the appointment, what you hope to get out of it and why it’s important to you. This information not only helps your PT make important decisions about your care but also to think of new ways to keep you motivated during therapy.

If you find yourself making an appointment to see a physical therapist for a new injury or a nagging pain, make sure that you prepare in advance. Being prepared to answer this one simple question can help to ensure that rehab is a success: What brings you to physical therapy today? After all, you wouldn’t walk into a kickoff meeting at work without first giving some thought to the goals that you planned to share with your team, would you?


Published on March 4, 2019 9:08 am
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Comeback Players: Josh Ward



We love to post Comeback Players! Comeback Players are our student athletes that have worked hard to graduate from physical therapy following an injury and return to their sport. We wish them all the best in their upcoming seasons!

This post is dedicated to…

Josh Ward from Morgan County High School (with Sarah Littlefield, DPT)


Published on February 28, 2019 8:41 am
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Comeback Players: Danielle Wooten



We love to post Comeback Players! Comeback Players are our student athletes that have worked hard to graduate from physical therapy following an injury and return to their sport. We wish them all the best in their upcoming seasons!

This post is dedicated to…

Danielle Wooten from Madison County Middle School (with Chris Warren, PT)


Published on February 21, 2019 9:31 am
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Assess Your ‘Movement Health’ to Lower Your Risk of Back Pain



Americans spend more than $87 billion each year on low back and neck pain treatment, according to a study in the Journal of American Medical Association. To prevent that figure from rising further, we must find ways to prevent the high rate of back pain incidences from occurring in the first place. And that means getting real about how we move during a variety of activities throughout the day, whether we’re working at a desk, tending to a garden or lifting a heavy object.

The path to better management of patients with back pain begins long before the first stab of pain, and that means getting to the root cause. How healthy are your movements? Physical therapy is one of the most effective ways to identify the movement patterns that put you at risk for back pain.

With the use of yearly screens and measures that are designed to assess how your body moves, such as the Functional Movement Screen™, physical therapists can work with patients to prevent low back and neck pain and a variety of other degenerative conditions. And with eight in 10 people suffering from back pain at some point in their lives, preventing incidences all together could take a huge chunk out of the staggering annual costs associated with treatments like medications and surgeries.

Preventing more cases of back pain would also ease some of the burden on providers, as well as the entire healthcare system. In fact, a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings identified back problems as the third most prevalent non-acute condition driving participants to see a doctor. By actively preventing back pain with the help of a physical therapist, you can save yourself a trip to the doctor.

During a movement screen, PTs observe how patients’ knees, hips, core, ankles, shoulders and back perform as they complete a series of movements. It helps the rehab professional to identify or rule out issues, uncover areas of strength and weakness, and determine whether any preventive steps need to be taken.

According to Jim Mike Hinzman, PT, at East Athens Physical Therapy, a majority of Back Pain patients can be treated conservatively with physical therapy. “We see many back pain patients every year. Our clinic uses the McKenzie Method for Diagnosis and Treatment of the neck and back region. It is amazing to see the progress in these patients using this method. As physical therapists, it is very satisfying to make a difference in the health and well-being of these patients.” stated Hinzman.

Think about making an appointment with your physical therapist to assess your “movement health.” You may just find that there’s something you can be doing—or not doing—today to prevent the limitations and costs of low back pain.


Published on February 20, 2019 9:13 am
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Are You a New Year’s Resolution Newbie, Master or Flunkee?



Turning the page on the new year is a chance to wipe the slate clean—and to be better versions of ourselves. And when it comes to what we want to improve, goals that fall in the health and wellness arena top all other New Year’s resolutions. In fact, three of the top four resolutions in a 2018 YouGov poll were health-related: eat healthier (1), get more exercise (2) and focus on self-care, e.g., get more sleep (4).

There are three types of people who choose a goal from the health and wellness category as a New Year’s resolution: the resolution newbie, the resolution master and the resolution flunkee. Let’s see which category you most identify with—and how focusing on the right strategy can help you get healthier in the new year.

Resolution Newbie. Maybe this is your first time making a commitment to your health and wellness. Good for you! Did a recent event like a health scare or loss of a loved one make you see the light? Or perhaps you want to be more active to enjoy activities with your grandchildren or to carry your own bag on the golf course. Whatever your goals are, taking that first step is a big one so you’ll want to be sure that you’re prepared for the challenge. Particularly when exercising for the first time or returning to an active lifestyle after a long hiatus, it’s important to have the proper information and tools to be successful. And that means tapping the healthcare resources available to you: Clinicians like nutritionists and physical therapists can make sure that your body is prepared to take on new challenges and work with you to a design a program that will help you achieve your goals.

Resolution Master. Perhaps you fall into a different camp: You vowed to get healthy in 2018 and you achieved it! For 2019, your resolution is to continue the work you’ve begun. After all, living a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong commitment; it’s not something you do for a while and then revert back to your former habits. As you prepare to embrace the new year, are there any small tweaks you can make to advance your goals? Maybe you’re thinking about training for and running a half marathon, but don’t know where to begin. A physical therapy evaluation is a great place to start—PTs are trained to assess your movement patterns and identify any limitations or weaknesses. Based on that information, the PT can design a personalized exercise program to help you safely and effectively prepare for the grueling half marathon course.

Resolution Flunkee.Let’s say your plan for 2019 is to get in better shape and improve your overall health (we support that resolution!), but this isn’t your first rodeo. Your 2018 resolution was pretty similar but it’s one year later, and you’re in the same place you were on New Year’s Eve 2017. What stood in your way—was it time? Affordable options? Access to healthy choices and activities? If any of these barriers sound familiar, then along with your resolution, you need an action plan. Without planning ahead, you’ll find yourself staring down the year 2020 with the same goal in mind. But let’s not focus only on the negative—what went right last year? Maybe you made sleep a priority, which in turn helped you to make better food choices at breakfast but by afternoon, you found yourself choosing to energize with a soda and candy bar when all you probably needed was an apple and a 15-minute walk. Take some time to think about the previous year—good and bad—and take with you what you need, and leave the rest behind. Afterall, you can’t plan where you’re going without understanding where you’ve been.

Which resolution type are you?


Published on January 6, 2019 11:05 pm
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