Sunday, April 26, 2015

REPOST: Full Voice: Physical Therapy for Vocal Health

You don't have to be a rock star or a pop diva to realize how much your voice means to your life. Keep it in good condition by following healthy habits and perhaps, having your neck area massaged by professional physical therapists once in a while. The article below has some interesting facts you need to know about vocal health.

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For many people, working out is a way of life. They’re determined to keep their bodies in shape, but those same people might never give a thought to their voices. That’s why the University of Virginia hosted a workshop on the subject.

For professional singers like Erin Lunsford the voice pays the bills. However, it’s not just the rock stars and opera singers who need to take care of their voices. Teachers, lawyers, doctors – almost of all of us -- need our voices to work.

“If you can’t use your voice there are very few jobs that you can get out there. Then also it affects you psychologically when you cannot communicate with your loved ones or with your friends and family,” says Dr. Jim Daneiro, head of the Voice and Swallowing Clinic at the University of Virginia. He wants to change the way people think about their voices to see talking as something closer to exercise. “Anybody who uses their voice a lot is akin to anyone who’s throwing a baseball and they’re using their shoulder a lot. It’s going to wear out at some point.”

Which is why Daneiro sometimes recommends physical therapy for people having trouble speaking or singing.

“Probably the number one thing I see in clinic is strain and stress in the neck and shoulder area that is translated to the voice. We get them into physical therapy or speech therapy and they usually get better.”

But for others, the solution is even easier.

“The single best thing that you can do to take care of your voice is to make sure you’re drinking enough water and not too much caffeine.”

Daneiro says 58 percent of teachers suffer voice disorders during their careers, and 20% annually need time off so their voice can recover. For the general population, those numbers are a little lower but still significant, with nearly 30% suffering voice problems and 7% losing time from work each year -- yet another reason to gossip around the water cooler at work, drinking up and giving your voice a break.

Howdy? I’m Brent Morgan Waco. I am a physical therapist, yoga enthusiast, and parkour fan. Subscribe to my blog for more on achieving good health.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The road to excellence: Becoming a highly effective physical therapist

More than a physician’s assistant, a personal trainer, or a private practitioner attending to patients with an aching back, a stiff neck, or cramping or creaky knees, a physical therapist’s role in wellness calls for genuine concern for others, even beyond their hurts and pains.

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Physical therapists are expected to possess a natural flair for comforting others. While patients often endure painful and slow recovery over a long period of time, which leads to them feeling frustrated, temperamental, depressed, or embarrassed, physical therapists save the day by motivating, encouraging, and supporting them all the way to recovery. I would like to believe that like the noble profession of teaching, physical therapy also demands composure, patience and perseverance, and resilience in performing according to the demands dictated by clients, and the standards of professional practice.

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Aside from having these personal traits, a competent physical therapist is equipped with the required education, credentials and specializations, valid certifications, and knowledge on current techniques and equipment.

Just recently, physical therapist Gregory Given from Chicago was bestowed the Five Star Physical Therapy award, which recognized his hard work, superior talent, and notable success as a physical therapist. A Five Star Award is bequeathed to deserving candidates who stand out in terms of their level of experience, extent of service, and expertise.

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From a roster of carefully selected candidates, the most outstanding one is handpicked considering criteria encompassing patient satisfaction, licensing and credentials, years of service, education level, professional achievements, new patient acceptance, and cancellation, show, and average patient rates.

Gaining the regard and respect of clients and wellness institutions is one of the benchmarks of highly sought physical therapists. I am convinced that we make the world a better place. Kudos to all of us, fellow therapists!  

I am Brent Morgan Waco, physical therapist, at your service. After a challenging workday, I love to listen to punk rock, music from the ‘80s, and old school hip hop artists, like Run DMC and The Beastie Boys. Though nothing gets me moving like my all-time favorite artist Led Zeppelin, being fit and health conscious brings me indoors to practice yoga, and outdoors to master parkour moves. Follow me on Twitter to know more about my fitness regimen.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

REPOST: Expert advice for the millions who are referred to physical therapy each year

While physical therapy helps stabilize joints, restores flexibility, and improve strength, several of its techniques are not backed by sound science. Consumer Reports offers the following tips to help physical therapy patients avoid pitfalls:  

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Many physical therapists hesitate to push patients, especially older ones. That’s unfortunate, because you need to tax yourself to make gains.

Maybe you’re recovering from surgery or dealing with a condition such as arthritis or back pain. Or maybe you’re just combating the aches and pains of advancing years. But one way or another, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll join the millions of people who are referred to a physical therapist each year.

Much of what goes on in those visits — especially exercise and hands-on therapy — can help by boosting strength, restoring flexibility and stabilizing joints. But some techniques aren’t backed by sound science and can even do more harm than good. And some physical therapists perform proven remedies improperly or spend too much time on things that you can do without their guidance. To help you avoid the pitfalls, Consumer Reports talked with experts at the American Physical Therapy Association to come up with these five recommendations:

Don’t waste too much time with ice and heat.

Applying a cold compress soon after a sprain or strain can reduce swelling, and using heat later can ease pain. But it’s not worth spending much time with your therapist on those treatments, because they don’t speed recovery.

That also applies to heat from ultrasound machines. “It’s like the coffee in the waiting room,” says Anthony Delitto, a physical therapist who worked with the APTA on its recommendations. “It makes patients feel good, but it’s not very helpful.” In one study, for example, there was no difference in recovery time between patients treated with either real or sham ultrasound. So treat injuries at home with cold and heat. But if your therapist wants to ice you down or heat you up, ask him to focus on other treatments.

Do expect to push yourself when exercising.

Strength training may be a cornerstone of physical therapy, but many therapists hesitate to push patients, especially older ones. That’s unfortunate, because to make gains you have to tax yourself. And the best way to do that is under the supervision of a professional. So if you think that you can handle heavier weights or tougher exercises, say so.

Don’t rely on machines after knee replacement.

If you have had a knee replaced, your therapist might send you home with a continuous passive motion machine. The hope is that the device, which extends and then bends your legs, will control pain and speed recovery. Sounds good — but there’s no evidence that it works. And some people think that because the device moves their legs for them, they don’t need to do real exercises. Bad idea.

Starting exercise-based therapy within 24 hours of surgery can restore motion, prevent blood clots and shorten hospital stays. So say yes to exercise but no to continuous motion machines.
●Do get pushed around.

Your therapist will probably spend considerable time poking, prodding and pushing you, sometimes in ways you wish she wouldn’t. Let her; it can help.

Mobilization and manipulation, for example, can feel like massage. Mobilization involves stretching and holding joints in ways that you can’t do on your own, or rhythmically pushing on joints to relax muscles. It’s used to restore motion after surgery or an injury. Manipulation, which is often used for back or neck pain, involves small, quick thrusts from the therapist’s hands.

Don’t expect much from whirlpools.

Whirlpools have been used to clean burns, scrapes and other wounds for more than 100 years. But it’s now clear that they can spread infection, so they shouldn’t be used for those purposes. Some physical therapists use cold whirlpools to treat swollen joints and warm ones for sore muscles. That’s unlikely to spread infection, but as with other kinds of hot and cold therapy, it probably won’t do much to speed recovery.

Brent Morgan Waco is a physical therapist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Get more tips on health and wellness by following him on Twitter.