• spilled pill bottle

    Posted on 4/23/2019 by NovaCare Rehabilitation and NovaCare

     

    For the management of some types of pain, prescription opioids can certainly help. However, there is not enough evidence to support prolonged opioid use for chronic pain. And, unused or expired prescription medications are a public safety issue that can lead to accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse. If thrown in the trash, unused prescriptions can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold. The misuse and abuse of over-the-counter medications, illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans.

    With that in mind, mark your calendar for Saturday, April 27, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time, as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement, businesses, medical offices, agencies and first responders, hosts events to collect and safely dispose of unwanted medications.

    Removing unwanted or expired medications from the medicine cabinet is an easy way to make a difference in the opioid crisis. Make plans to dispose of unused and unwanted medications during DEA National Rx Take Back Day at a location near you. 

    And, remember: To achieve pain-free movement for enhanced quality of life and independence, rely on NovaCare Rehabilitation and NovaCare’s team of extensively trained and licensed therapists. Our clinicians are movement experts who can identify, diagnose and treat your pain or injury and get you back to work, athletics and daily life.

    Working with a physical, occupational and/or certified hand therapist through a plan of care that is designed specifically for your needs is a safer and more effective long-term option than opioid use. Let us help you to experience the power of physical therapy today!

    Side effects include:

    Reduced pain
    Restored function
    Increased strength and flexibility
    Prevention of future injury
    Improved quality of life
    …And much more!
    Medicine dispensed includes:

    Manual therapy
    Aquatic therapy
    Hand/Occupational therapy
    Sports performance
    Work health
    …And much more!
    For more information or to request a complimentary consultation, please contact a center near you today.


     

  • Posted on 5/16/2018 by Erin Longhurst, P.T., DPT

     

    National Women’s Health Week is hosted each year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. The week serves a reminder for all women to be vigilant of their health and wellness and to make healthy habits a priority for life.

    During National Women’s Health Week, we are proud to recognize some of the more under-served issues that women deal with regarding their health. At NovaCare Rehabilitation and NovaCare, some of our physical therapists who treat women’s health issues have received specialty training specific to the pelvis and pregnancy and provide specialized treatment, education and training to help overcome challenges.

    If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the below conditions, physical therapy may be able to help you maximize function, minimize pain and improve overall quality of life. Patients are evaluated by a licensed physical therapist and a personalized plan of care is designed to meet individual needs. Together, we will establish clear goals and begin treatment to help the healing begin in a positive and encouraging environment.

    Incontinence refers to the accidental loss of urine, gas or stool. This most commonly happens during a cough, sneeze, laugh or force from exercise (stress incontinence) or with a strong urge to urinate or defecate (urge incontinence). Incontinence is generally caused by weakness of the pelvic floor muscles, whose primary functions include supporting the pelvic organs. Our conservative physical therapy approach includes bowel or bladder retraining, an exercise plan to strength the muscles that support the pelvic floor and non-invasive biofeedback or electrical stimulation, as needed.

    Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when one or more pelvic organs (bladder, uterus or rectum) moves out of its normal position, usually in a downward direction, because of weakness of the pelvic floor muscles or pressure exerted downward on the pelvis, e.g. long pushing phase of labor. Usually, this causes a sensation of heaviness or pressure in the lower abdomen or vagina. Guided strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles by a pelvic-trained physical therapist can help reverse early stage prolapse and prevent worsening of symptoms.

    Pelvic pain is experienced by many women, but it is not considered normal if the pain persists longer than three months or occurs during sexual intercourse. Women experiencing pelvic pain may also complain of pain (or referred pain) in their hips, back or abdomen. Treatment of pelvic pain by a specialized physical therapist may include exercise to stretch or strengthen muscles in the hips, core and pelvis; relaxation and breathing techniques; hands-on soft tissue work; and, biofeedback for muscle retraining.

    Studies estimate that 40 to 50 percent of expectant mothers will experience some form of aches and pain during pregnancy. These pains are often caused by the dramatic changes in posture and increased demand that weight gain and weight distribution can place on the woman’s body. Following birth of the baby, mothers then spend a lot of time bent over, which can cause pain in the back, neck and arms. Physical therapy treatment during or after pregnancy includes education in proper posture and body mechanics, soft tissue manual therapy and muscle strengthening to help manage and treat pain.

    Normal urinary frequency is between two and four hours, but some women experience urinary urgency that leads them to urinate more than every two hours or that wakes them up at night. Women’s health physical therapy can assist with bladder retraining and help you take back control of your bladder.

    Diastasis rectus abdominis is separation of the abdominal muscles and happens frequently during the later stages of pregnancy. This often resolves on its own in the 13 weeks following birth; however, sometimes the abdominal muscles stay separated and can contribute to poor core strength and back pain. A women’s health physical therapist can help to create a targeted exercise program that resolves the diastasis recti and allows for a return to full activity.

    Contact a center near you today for more information!

    By: Erin Longhurst, P.T., DPT. Erin is an orthopaedic physical therapist with NovaCare Rehabilitation in Washington, D.C. She specializes in treating women's health conditions, with primary focus on pregnant and postpartum women and women struggling with pelvic pain or incontinence.  


  • Posted on 7/9/2020

     

    NovaCare Rehabilitation proudly partnered with the Philadelphia 76ers to help local communities remain healthy and safe during the coronavirus pandemic. The two organizations are donating 10,000 masks to areas of need in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J., where the team is headquartered.

    In partnership with the Sixers Youth Foundation, the masks will be donated to Camden Health & Athletic Association, Food Corps, Cathedral Kitchen, Playworks, Salvation Army Krocs Center, LUCY Outreach, Camden County School District, KIPP Schools, Philabundance, Food Bank of South Jersey and Camden County Department of Human Services. These organizations were pre-selected based off demonstrated need and its history with the foundation and NovaCare.

    “We are proud to collaborate with our more than 30-year partner, the Sixers, to provide masks in the communities we serve to promote health, safety and well-being,” said NovaCare Rehabilitation President Dan Bradley. 

    Masks are mandatory in Philadelphia if you’re outside in public areas to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and these stylish masks are branded with each organizations’ marks. 

    “These are communities in need that really don’t have easy access to masks,” said Katie O’Reilly, the Sixers’ chief marketing officer. “Our foundation spends the bulk of its work in the city of Philadelphia and Camden, so they have a great understanding of that. We wanted to help, and obviously so did NovaCare.”

    For more information, please read the full story here.


  • ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation logo

    Posted on 4/19/2018 by Inessa Soden, O.T., CHT

     

    Occupational therapy has been an established profession for more than 100 years. Yet, to this day, many people, and even medical professionals, are confused about what this field has to offer. It could be described as one of the disciplines in a rehabilitation team, focusing on restoring people’s ability to perform normal daily activities and resume valued roles in life. Thus, occupational therapy could be applied in general public health and the rehabilitation of many medical diseases.

    Cancer diagnosis and treatment is a devastating life event that throws unexpected hurdles on the road of survivorship. Cancer patients may experience:

    Pain
    Weakness and fatigue
    Stiffness in joints
    Numbness and altered sensation in extremities
    Difficulty remembering and performing daily activities
    Some of these difficulties occur at the time of diagnosis, while others might become apparent during treatment and long after.

    Medicine has been making great strides in treating and curing some cancers and better prognoses for life expectancy. There are currently more than 15 million cancer survivors in the United States, and the projected number is more than 20 million in the next 10 years. However, the courageous victory of beating the disease often comes with paying the price of temporary, residual or lasting side effects from the cancer treatment. Yet, after going through such a hard battle one doesn’t have to succumb to suffering or giving up so many of one’s previously enjoyed activities.

    Life might be changed after experiencing cancer, but that means that one needs to learn to adjust and do things differently. This is where occupational therapy and our ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation program can improve quality of life.

    ReVitalFor example, pain could be addressed by multiple manual therapy techniques and stretches, sometimes utilizing the application of special tools such as instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization or cupping. Different physical agent modalities, such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and physiological techniques, like deep breathing and sensory reeducation, could be beneficial. Based on the cause of pain, the therapist will choose an appropriate course of treatment.

    In cases of weakness and fatigue, an occupational therapist will develop an individualized program focusing on activities to build up strength and eliminate unnecessary strain on the body. The program may consist of exercises and activities as well as learning energy conservation principles and use of adaptations and adaptive techniques. In addition, each person will get an individualized home exercise program that is modified based upon progress.

    For altered sensation, such as pins-and-needles, burning or numbness, an occupational therapist can help to control symptoms, which may be temporary due to swelling or nerve compression. The therapist may recommend and fabricate a custom orthosis, incorporate manual therapy to release the bound neve and design an individualized exercise plan. Other modalities, such as therapeutic taping, may be performed as necessary.

    Sometimes unexpected difficulties arise in a battle with cancer. Survivors may experience difficulties focusing on a task, forgetting important information or have trouble multitasking everyday schedules. This may become a safety issue or cause severe emotional distress. In this case, a trained occupational therapist will help to set priorities and come up with suggestions and adaptations in order for the person to be as safe and independent as possible.

    Teaching family members how they can help their loved ones to cope is part of the education that an occupational therapist provides. Learning how to access some local and national resources, finding support groups and leisure/recreation activities may also be of benefit.

    These are just few examples of what occupational therapy can offer to ease the burden on a cancer survivor and promote a happier, healthier life. Working in a close relationship with a team of doctors, nurses, physical/speech therapists and local communities to help establish a strong support system so one does not need to go through this journey alone.

    Consultation with your local occupational therapist trained in the ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation program could be requested at any time, be it right after the diagnosis, prior to surgery or during or after cancer treatment throughout the survivor’s lifespan.

    By: Inessa Soden, O.T., CHT. Inessa has been a NovaCare Rehabilitation team member in South New Jersey since 2011. She treats patients of varying diagnoses, including orthopaedics and neurological and oncologic conditions. She focuses on building an individualized treatment plan for each of her patients to ensure they achieve their best level of independent participation in every day roles and activities.


  • boy going back to school

    Posted on 9/8/2020 by Aileen Lysaught, M.S., CCC-SLP/L

     

    As a therapy team, we understand that parents and children are experiencing many unexpected challenges this year. Parents are adapting to e-learning and facing difficult decisions around what to do for the upcoming school year. Children are learning to adjust to a new and different way of learning. They are also navigating the new experience of wearing masks and social distancing from their friends. As a parent myself, I have struggled with my child missing out on the socialization and hands-on learning that comes from school, as well as how to explain the current situation to him in the best possible way.

    As parents, you have difficult decisions to make; however there is no “wrong” choice. You have to do what is best for your child during these unprecedented times. That choice may be in-person learning, remote learning or homeschooling. All of these options have their own challenges and benefits.

    Additionally, parents of children with special needs are faced with especially complicated decisions. Many children may struggle with mask compliance due to sensory processing difficulties and benefit from in-person learning and therapy.  Other children may have compromised immune systems and in-person learning or therapy is not necessarily an option for them.

    My son receives physical therapy for low muscle tone and coordination issues and is in need of occupational therapy to address fine motor skills. We have been lucky enough to receive this therapy in-person throughout the pandemic in order to ensure he continues to make progress. Although we haven’t made our final decision on whether or not to send him to school, we are grateful to have the option to receive the additional help he needs in a safe, one-on-one setting, regardless of what we decide.

    As autumn approaches, NovaCare and Select Kids Pediatric Therapy are here and available to support families in their individual decisions. We are committed to assisting your child’s unique needs by providing in-person physical, occupational, speech and ABA therapy in a safe environment. Our centers are taking extensive preventative measures – guided by the CDC, state and local government – to protect children and their families. We are also pleased to offer care virtually via telerehab. Through web-based technology, telerehab lets you and your child connect with our therapists from the convenience of your home.

    Our therapists also provide parents with consultation to support e-learning at home. We will communicate with school teachers and school-based therapists to carry out your child’s IEP goals and promote continued progress. We also provide e-learning and hybrid learning resources to help your child succeed.

    Please contact your local NovaCare or Select Kids center to discuss the various options for your child and determine if therapy may be beneficial.

    By: Aileen Lysaught, M.S., CCC-SLP/L. Aileen is a speech-language pathologist for our NovaCare Kids centers in Orland Park and DePaul Fullerton, IL. 

     

    .  


  • therapist and patient doing lunges

    Posted on 1/12/2018 by Laila Hasham, P.T., DPT

     

    Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive movement disorder that affects one in 100 people over the age of 60. While the average age at onset is 60, people have been diagnosed as young as 18. It is the second most common degenerative brain disorder affecting adults (Alzheimer’s disease is the most common). Recent research indicates that at least one million people in the United States and more than five million worldwide have Parkinson’s, and there are around 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

    Parkinson’s involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends signals to the brain to control movement and coordination. As Parkinson’s progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally. People with Parkinson’s disease are at risk of falling and sustaining injuries due to their movement and balance impairment.

    Treatment includes a combination of medication and physical therapy, and in some cases surgery. A physical therapist who has experience treating Parkinson’s can help a person improve mobility, strength and balance.

    The universal benefits of exercise in helping everyone feel better and improving overall health are well documented. There is evidence that exercise has specific benefits for people with Parkinson's in staying active and improving balance and coordination. Exercise approaches have long played a role in the management of Parkinson’s disease, to maximize function and minimize secondary complications and inactivity.

    For decades, the Lee Silverman Voice Technique (LSVT) has been an effective way to treat the symptoms of impaired voice and swallowing from Parkinson’s called LSVT LOUD®. In 2005, a new approach to therapy called LSVT BIG® was developed. LSVT BIG is a research-based exercise program specifically designed for people with Parkinson’s. It has been shown to improve function with significant improvements noted in trunk rotation, balance and faster walking with larger steps1. LSVT BIG is provided by physical and occupational therapists who have received specific training in this technique.

    LSVT programs include the combination of:

    An exclusive target on increasing amplitude, or loudness in the speech motor system, and bigger movements in the limb motor system.
    A focus on sensory recalibration to help patients recognize that movements with increased amplitude are within normal limits, even if they feel ‘too loud’ or ‘too big.’
    Training self-cueing and attention to action to facilitate long-term maintenance of treatment outcomes. In addition, the intensive mode of delivery is consistent with principles that drive activity-dependent neuroplasticity and motor learning2.
    The LSVT BIG program includes 16 sessions of therapy over four weeks, at a frequency of four days each week. These sessions are provided in a one-to-one manner and include high intensity, whole body movements. Depending on the nature and severity of the condition, treatment sessions may focus on activities that are important to the patient and education to help transfers, bed mobility and hand movement. While other exercise interventions may focus on external cues and breaking down task components, LSVT BIG focuses on movement amplitude to achieve bigger and faster movements in the attempt to restore normal movement patterns and improve gait speed.

    The program is both intensive and fun, and the hard work and dedication of the patient is integral to the success of the program. Find a local NovaCare center to see if the LSVT BIG program is offered near you.

    For more information on Parkinson’s disease and the LSVT BIG program, please visit the LSVT Global website at www.LSVTGlobal.com.

    References:

    Farley et al (2008) Intensity amplitude-specific therapy for Parkinson’s disease. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation 24(2) 99-114.
    Cynthia Fox, Georg Ebersbach, Lorraine Ramig, Shimn Sapir. LSVT LOUD and LSVT BIG: Behavioral Treatment Programs for Speech and Body Movement in Parkinson Disease. Parkinson’s disease. 2012;2012.
    By: Laila Hasham, P.T., DPT. Laila is a physical therapist with NovaCare in Austin, TX. Her primary expertise is in orthopaedics, but she is passionate about treating people with Parkinson’s and similar movement disorders in order to improve quality of life and overall function. Laila is pictured above treating a patient.


  • child holding up hands painted in many colors

    Posted on 4/19/2017 by Rebecca Miles, MSOT, OTR/L

     

    When I tell people I am an occupational therapist, they generally either respond enthusiastically or nod as if they know what I do (when they really don’t!). Upon first hearing the name, most people think occupational therapists are vocational therapists who help people find employment or get back to a certain job. Because of this, the people who do not know what occupational therapy is are even more confused when I say I work with the pediatric population.

    Occupational therapists work with people across the lifespan to do what they need to do, want to do and what they are expected to do. For us, an “occupation” refers to activities that support the health, wellbeing and development of an individual (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2014). This can mean helping someone after a stroke learn how to dress themselves again. In my work as a pediatric occupational therapist, it means I work with children and their families to allow participation and independence in their “occupation" of playing, learning and completing activities throughout their daily life.

    Pediatric occupational therapists work across many settings, from schools to hospitals to outpatient centers. Here at Select Kids Pediatric Therapy, I have the opportunity to work with infants and toddlers in their homes and natural environments and to work in a pediatric outpatient center treating children from age three to 22.

    Pediatric occupational therapists utilize the most current evaluation tools and clinical standards in determining the appropriate treatment for each child. We start by communicating directly with parents/guardians to determine the family’s goals and priorities. Then, through individualized evaluations, we find solutions to help maximize independence and increase participation in daily activities, including self-care, learning and play.

    I work with children on reaching their full potential by addressing deficits that challenge performance of developmentally appropriate skills. For instance, I often help children who have challenges with grasp and handwriting, attention span, moving their body to complete a task, responding to information coming from the senses (like becoming overwhelmed and distraught when there is a loud noise), visual perceptual skills (like finding an item in a busy drawer or knowing what an item is when it is not entirely visible) and activities of daily life (like dressing and feeding). I get to address these skills through play and actual performance of the activities, so that children can engage in their “occupations” and learn while having fun.

    I empower families through education and guidance to help the children in their lives grow and learn. It is amazing to be able to spend every day helping children to reach their own individual potential.

    American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain & process (3rd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl. 1), S1–S48. http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.682006

    Rebecca MilesBy: Rebecca Miles, MSOT, OTR/L, pediatric occupational therapist at our Select Kids Pediatric Therapy center in Virginia Beach, VA.

    Select Kids Pediatric Therapy and NovaCare Kids Pediatric Therapy are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands. Contact a center near you today for more information on pediatric therapy services.


  • skeleton showing spine and brain

    Posted on 6/18/2018 by Erica Zettlemoyer, P.T., DPT

     

    Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a progressive disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is composed of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Our nerves are surrounded by a fatty substance called myelin, which allows electrical messages to be delivered quickly from the brain to the correct muscle. In MS, the myelin is damaged, scars are formed and the electrical message from our brain is disrupted. This creates a less efficient movement pattern, as well as pain, weakness, heat sensitivity, fatigue, numbness, vision changes and other impairments.

    Multiple Sclerosis and Exercise – Though researchers are making significant advances in treating MS, there is still not a cure. However, there are various treatments which focus on slowing the progression of the disease and managing symptoms. Exercise is considered one of these treatments. In a published study, people with MS who participated in 15 weeks of three 40-minute training sessions per week were shown to demonstrate improved cardiovascular fitness, strength and overall health.¹

    Multiple Sclerosis and Physical Therapy – Due to the complexity of MS, it is important to work with a physical therapist who will create a specialized exercise program based on one’s progression and severity of symptoms. Treatments will focus on general conditioning, strengthening, flexibility and balance as well as postural education, positioning and respiratory function. In more severe cases, a therapist will assist in the utilization of equipment, such as bracing, wheelchairs, standing frames. Several of the challenges that must be considered include:

    Heat Sensitivity: Many patients with MS report a sensitivity to heat. A rise in core body temperature of as little as 0.5ᵒ C can intensify symptoms. A physical therapist can guide patients through several ideas that will assist in controlling body temperature while exercising. Using a fan, drinking cold water prior, during and after activity as well as utilizing cooling vests and wrist bands are helpful in controlling body temperature. Other ideas include placing a cooler in the car with cold drinks and starting the air conditioning in the car 10 minutes prior to leaving.
    Lassitude: Fatigue affects 74 to 89 percent of those diagnosed with MS.² It is the initial symptom for almost half of those diagnosed, even predating diagnosis by as much as 10 years.³ A physical therapist can help patients address modifiable factors that increase fatigue, such as activity, respiratory weakness, thermosensitivity, pain, deconditioning and movement compensation.
    Bone Density Loss: When exercising, it is important to focus on strengthening with resistance. Those diagnosed with MS may suffer from bone density loss due to Vitamin D deficiency and increased use of steroids. Participating in a weekly strengthening program while utilizing weights may improve bone health. A physical therapist can guide patients in safely incorporating resistance into an exercise program.
    Examples of Appropriate Exercises – It is helpful to know that when exercising with MS, we should look at the total amount of exercise minutes for the day. For example, if someone can participate in riding a stationary bike for five minutes in the morning, five minutes in the afternoon and five minutes in the evening, that will give them 15 minutes of total cardio exercise for the day. Walking on a treadmill, walking inside or standing activities are other examples of exercises that can be modified to one’s functional and physical capabilities.

    Strengthening exercises can include bridges, clams, heel raises, sit-to-stand transitions squats, step-ups and rows. Wall push-ups and triceps dips are especially important for fall recovery training. I recommend working on eight to 15 repetitions while using an appropriate resistance level.

    Stretching is important and should focus on calf muscles, hamstrings, hip flexors and pectorals. When incorporating balance activities, vary the surface you are practicing on, whether seated or standing. For example, sitting on a wobble board or standing on foam will maximize training.

    Beginning an exercise program does not have to be overwhelming or intimidating. Each patient with MS will tolerate exercise differently and a physical therapist can individualize each program to meet the needs of that individual. The MS Society and Multiple Sclerosis Association of America are also valuable resources for those who are seeking information on exercise.

    For more information regarding physical therapy for MS, please contact a center near you today!

    References:

    Petajan J, Gappmaier E, White A, Spencer M, Mino L, Hicks R. Impact of aerobic training on fitness and quality of life in multiple sclerosis.  Annals of Neurology. April 1996 39(4):432-41
    Murray TJ. Amantadine therapy for multiple sclerosis. Can J Neurol Sci 1985; 12:251-254
    Krupp L, Alvarez L, LaRocca N, et al. Arch Neurol. 1988 45(4):435-437
    White L, Dressendorfer R. Fitness testing in multiple sclerosis: a case report. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2003;35 (5): S314
    By: Erica Zettlemoyer, P.T., DPT, is a licensed physical therapist at Baylor Scott and White Institute for Rehabilitation. She received a doctorate of physical therapy in 2010 from Texas Woman’s University and is a Certified Multiple Sclerosis Specialist.


  • Young boy holding fork and staring unhappily into a plate of vegetables.

    Posted on 11/28/2017 by Rachel Linden, M.A., CCC-SLP

     

    People tend to choose a career path based on what they enjoy doing or a special skill they possess. I have always enjoyed working with children, so a career like speech language pathology suited me. Once I started my major courses in college, I found that speech language pathology didn’t just suit me, it helped turn my greatest personal weakness into my passion.

    Food preferences are a personal choice, but our tastes typically adapt and change as we grow. Eating should be an easy and natural thing, seeing as we eat at least three times a day, but it doesn’t always pan out that way. There’s picky eating and then there’s problem feeding.

    As a young child, describing me as a picky eater would be an understatement. At times, I could be a problem feeder. Living on “kid food” such as macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly was just fine with me. It always had to be the same brand, and my sandwiches had to be cut into triangles. No big deal; I was just a kid and would grow out of it, right?

    As I got older, these habits stayed with me and food experiences became more difficult. I was anxious about birthday parties, sleepovers, meals with friends and dates, on edge about the available food options. There were some strategies I used to get by, like eating beforehand or stuffing snacks in my bag, but planning my life around food was difficult.

    With marriage and family, life is about compromise and working together. My husband and I have had multiple conversations about my eating habits to ensure we can both eat and be happy. I’ve found success personally using some of the same treatment approaches that help my young clients and my son to become better eaters and enjoy less stressful mealtimes.

    It took most of my life to realize that feeding contributed to the way I thought of myself, as well as my relationships with others. Through feeding training, I’ve been able to provide children and their families with interventions starting at a young age. Intervention provides a means to increasing skills and looking at foods in a new and more positive way, thus making mealtimes easier.

    Feeding therapy using the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach focuses on developing the necessary skills for self-feeding as well as safe chewing and swallowing. The SOS approach uses a hierarchy to help the feeder gradually move toward their highest level of tolerance. Together, these approaches can expose the feeder to new foods and help him or her to increase their positive experiences with new and non-preferred foods.

    Picky eaters are not the only children who can benefit from feeding therapy. Children who have weight gain issues, oral motor deficits, limited oral intake and are transitioning off a feeding tube are candidates for feeding therapy. Children who are highly specific about brands, refuse food and experience difficulty transitioning to new textures are also candidates. Moreover, families who have “power struggles” at mealtimes or children who display bad mealtime behavior may benefit from feeding therapy.

    Therapy meals address behaviors, sensory responses to food, oral motor improvements and diet expansion. A meal is set up to remove distractions to allow for a “family style” meal. Each food is presented one at a time to increase tolerance to the offered food. Therapeutic assistance is provided to move a child up the feeding hierarchy to their highest point of tolerance and then the next food is presented. Mealtime rules and positive language about mealtimes and food is an essential part of feeding therapy to build trust and learn expectations.

    If you suspect your child might be a picky or problem feeder, ask your NovaCare or Select Kids speech therapist about opportunities to expose them to exciting new food experiences.

    Rachel LindenBy: Rachel Linden, M.A., CCC-SLP. Rachel is a speech language pathologist with NovaCare Kids Pediatric Therapy in Crystal Lake, IL. She has been practicing since 2013 and is committed to helping children live their best lives!


  • spilled pill bottle

    Posted on 11/10/2017 by NovaCare and NovaCare Rehabilitation

     

    For the management of some types of pain, prescription opioids can certainly help. However, there is not enough evidence to support prolonged opioid use for chronic pain. We sat down with Katie McBee, P.T., DPT, OCS, M.S., CEAS, regional director of our WorkStrategies Program, to ask her a few questions regarding opioid use, chronic pain and the benefits of physical therapy as a safe alternative to prescription medication.

    In your opinion, what are the main reasons for the opioid epidemic in the United States?
    There is no simple explanation as to what caused the opioid epidemic in the United States. Opiates are not a new drug and have been abused at other time periods in American history, but not nearly to the extent that is happening now. Initial research on opiate medications said they were effective and safe and addiction was rare when used for short-term pain1. The development of FDA approved OxyContin in 1995 had labeling that stated iatrogenic addiction was “very rare,” and a widespread marketing campaign to physicians started to build medical providers’ confidence in prescribing these medications to decrease pain-related suffering2. Add to that the 2001 standards implemented by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations for organizations to improve their care of patients with pain medication and this is probably what catalyzed the beginning of our current opioid epidemic.

    With medical providers focused on pain as a vital sign, pain quickly became the enemy and had to be eradicated to show successful management for many conditions with an increased focus on post-operative pain management. As drugs became more widely available, aggressively advertised and culturally acceptable, a three-fold increase in prescription rates for these medications ensued. With the increase in opioid prescription rates, death rates from side effects also increased by three-fold to more 16,000 by 2011.

    What is the difference between chronic pain versus pain suffered as a result of an injury?
    Pain is a mechanism designed to protect us from harm. Pain is not the enemy. A common misconception about pain is that it is not a simple cause/effect relationship. The amount of injury does not equal the amount of pain we experience. Pain is a complex process based on many areas of the nervous system and the brain communicating together to let us know what we need to prioritize and protect. The more threatening the brain perceives something, the more we potentially feel pain.

    Acute pain or pain suffered immediately after an injury or surgery to the body’s tissues is a protection mechanism from the brain to remind you to protect the area so that no further harm is done. As the tissue heals and time passes, there is less threat of injury so the brain stops signaling, the pain eases and you slowly get back to normal activities.

    In chronic pain, the tissues are not signaling danger to the brain as much as they are in acute pain. When the brain perceives threat for extended periods, it starts to change the nervous system to become a pain-producing machine. It creates new nerve junctions to make things hurt that wouldn’t normally hurt, like light touch on the skin. It can decrease the amount of pressure needed to create a pain signal. It creates more chemicals along the nervous system so it can create greater pain experiences with fewer stimuli. Research is still trying to figure out why some individuals have pain that goes away as the tissues heal and others have pain that persists despite the fact that the tissue has healed.

    Individuals can be at risk of developing chronic or persistent pain for a number of reasons, including unhelpful coping strategies, stress, chronic illness and poor sleep habits. It appears the more emotional or physical stress going on at the time of the injury and/or during the healing process, the more at risk you can be of developing a persistent pain issue. A holistic approach to address some of these drivers of persistent pain is showing promise in being able to reduce the pain and get people with chronic pain back into their normal lives again.

    Why is physical therapy important and what are some of the benefits to patients?
    Physical therapy is an ideal treatment for many types of acute and chronic pain and should be a part of any single or multidisciplinary treatment plan for pain. The goal of physical therapy is to increase function and keep people in their meaningful life activities while they are healing. Physical therapists are trained to address many of the drivers of chronic pain and can perform testing and screening to see if your pain system is sensitized and adjust treatment to desensitize the pain system as well as address the functional limitations many people often experience when they are in pain.

    Physical therapists have many tools they can use to decrease pain and desensitize the pain system. These tools include education on pain to discover what could be driving pain issues. Once the pain drivers are discovered, a physical therapist will develop a holistic plan to address these drivers, including increased activity, sleep hygiene, stress management skills and pacing techniques.

    The best thing about physical therapy for pain is that the outcomes for some of the techniques are better than many medications and procedures available; plus, there are no negative side effects. If you or someone you know has an issue with pain, consult with a physical therapist as a component of care.

    For more information on physical therapy and its benefits, or to request an appointment today, please contact a Select Medical outpatient physical therapy center near you.

    References

    Porter J, Jick H. Addiction rare in patients treated with narcotics. N Engl J Med. 1980;302:123.
    Van Zee A. The promotion and marketing of OxyContin: commercial triumph, public health tragedy. Am J Public Health. 20:99 (2):221-227.