Posted on 5/10/2017 by Jamie McGaha, OTD, OTR, COMT, CEASI
Join NovaCare Rehabilitation and Select Physical Therapy as we celebrate National Arthritis Awareness Month! Recognized each May by the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis impacts more than 50 million people in the United States and is the number one cause of disability in the country. Did you know there are more than 100 types of arthritis? Currently, one in five adults is affected by at least one type of arthritis1. By 2030 an estimated 67 million adults will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, with two-thirds being women2.
The hands are one of the most common sites for arthritis. The most functionally limiting type of hand arthritis affects the base of the thumb, also known as basal thumb arthritis or first carpometacarpal osteoarthritis (OA).
In the past, we thought the only way to alleviate pain from thumb OA was to rest the joint in a splint and not exercise. Now we see too much time in an orthosis can make the thumb weaker and it may even be harder for you to do things when you take the brace off.
New evidence in the field of hand therapy has taught us that there is so much more we can do other than rest and that it is important for the joints’ health to move! We have found that by understanding our own thumb anatomy and learning how to find the correct muscles in the thumb, we can strengthen weakened or disused muscle, helping to stabilize the arthritic joint. We can also decrease overuse and tightness in muscles that are working too hard because others are not helping. Better muscle function and greater stability can contribute to less pain and decrease time you need to rest or use an orthosis.
Not all thumb OA is alike. A visit to your hand therapist would allow you to find out which muscles are tight and which are weak. Together, you and your hand therapist would then design an individualized plan of care for your symptoms related to the activities you desire to do.
The right exercises can be so effective that the joint can become better aligned; this has been shown with healthy thumbs on X-ray3. Your hand therapist can also help you to determine when to wear your orthosis and when not to, so your thumb has the appropriate support at the correct time.
There are many new techniques being used in therapy. It’s even hard for the physicians to keep up to date on all the new techniques! Checking in regularly with a hand therapist may provide solutions to many of your aches, pains and limitations from hand and thumb arthritis.
Barbour KE, et al. Vital Signs: Prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitations- United States 2013-2015. MMWR 2017; 66(9); 246-253.
Hootman JM, Helmick CG. Projections of U.S. prevalence of arthritis and associated activity limitations. Arthritis Rheum 2006;58(1):26–35.
McGee C, Adams J, Van Nortwick SS, O’Brien VH, Van Heest AE. Activation of the first dorsal ineterossesous muscle results in radiographic reduction of the thumb CMC joint: Implications for arthritis prevent [abstract] Paper presented at The British Society for Surgery of the Hand; January 2015.
Jamie McGahaBy: Jamie McGaha, OTD, OTR, COMT, CEASI. Jamie is a licensed occupational therapist focusing on hand therapy and upper extremity rehabilitation with Select Physical Therapy in Austin, TX. She completes ergonomic assessments and has experience with ergonomic interventions. Jamie is also an assistant faculty member for anatomy at the University of St. Augustine’s occupational therapy program. She is a certified orthopaedic manual therapist for the upper extremity, has current and ongoing research on the subject of thumb arthritis and is a member of the American Society for Hand Therapists and the Central Texas Hand Society.
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.
Posted on 4/3/2017 by Cornelia von Lersner Benson, O.T., CHT
Join NovaCare Rehabilitation, Select Physical Therapy and our team of dedicated occupational therapists as we celebrate Occupational Therapy Month (OTM)! OTM is hosted by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) each April to recognize how occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help transform society by restoring and improving function in people's lives.
Occupational therapy is celebrating its anniversary! The National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (now AOTA) was established in 1917, marking 100 years of the profession and evidence-based practice. With more than 200,000 occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants helping individuals across the lifespan live life to its fullest, this dedicated group of professionals focuses on treatment to help develop, recover and maintain the daily skills of patients.
Occupational therapists offer a unique approach to physical rehabilitation. The focus isn’t just someone’s motion or strength, but how it is used in their life, such as a healthy return to work, getting back to sports or hobbies or helping to braid a child’s hair before school. Occupational therapists also have specialty training in orthoses fabrication and emotional, thinking and reasoning factors that affect physical health and function. It is a service that, side-by-side with physical therapy, can offer a return to health and function in an all-inclusive and progressive way.
This service offering, however, all began for NovaCare Rehabilitation in 1990, prior to joining the Select Medical family, within our Southern New Jersey community when I was hired by our then company president to develop an occupational therapy program. I was hired as the first occupational therapist for the company, likely as an informal pilot study to determine a consumer’s benefit of receiving occupational therapy and its contribution as a service and unique offering for our organization. As we knew it would, occupational therapy was a hit! Occupational therapy allows patients to achieve independence and participate in tasks they want and need to accomplish through therapeutic interventions following trauma or disability. Our local success meant that the occupational therapy service offering quickly grew, adding additional staff members in New Jersey and then Philadelphia, Maryland and Minnesota.
Today, occupational therapy is a national service for NovaCare Rehabilitation, Select Physical Therapy and other brands within the Select Medical Outpatient Division family. We employ more than 480 occupational therapists across the country. We continue to treat patients on a daily basis as well as provide education and mentoring to support new occupational therapy graduates who desire to achieve his/her certification in hand therapy. We help to supervise all levels of occupational therapy students, ongoing development for staff and continued service expansion to meet the needs of our community at large.
At NovaCare Rehabilitation and Select Physical Therapy, our occupational therapists are everyday heroes and know that each patient is unique and requires an individualized approach to care. Our team finds the right solution for each patient to reach goals and return to function and the things they enjoy doing as soon as possible.
I am proud to work for a company that holds occupational therapy in such high regard and encourages and supports therapists in their growth, their unique contributions and their skills to improve the lives of our patients. This comes as a result of having a company creed that is dedicated to providing an exceptional patient experience in a compassionate environment. It all fits! Happy OTM, everyone!
Cornelia von Lersner Benson By: Cornelia von Lersner Benson, O.T., CHT. Cornelia serves as NovaCare Rehabilitation’s hand and occupational therapy director for the Southern New Jersey community. NovaCare in New Jersey proudly employs 46 occupational and hand therapists within 27 offices, including those who provide in-home care and services within physician offices.
Posted on 3/23/2017 by Michael Staino, O.T., CHT, COMT
Negative pressure soft tissue manual therapy, or, in simpler terms
, cupping, is a mobilization technique used to treat pain, stiffness and swelling of the upper and lower extremities, as well as large soft tissue areas such as the shoulder blade or low back.
Cupping is the combination of massage movements and negative pressure with the use of a suction device on the skin. A cup is positioned at the treatment area and a vacuum is created within the cup to draw the skin and underlying tissue into the cup. The produced vacuum creates a suction effect that increases blood and lymphatic circulation, relaxes muscle tissue and support, draws stagnation and toxins out of the body and releases a myriad of pain causing factors.
Cupping for soft tissue stiffness
Following injury, surgery and prolonged immobilization, patients may experience pain, stiffness and swelling that hinder normal movement patterns. There are numerous methods to treat such soft tissue stiffness. Scar tissue can be hypersensitive to touch, restricting a therapist’s ability to mobilize the visible scar and scar tissue deep within a patient’s recovering region. Using cupping, the therapist able to gently lift and mobilize surrounding pain-free tissue and work toward the targeted region without pain and discomfort. The results are immediate and lasting, with patients gaining range of motion and tolerance to exercise with reduced swelling.
Additional cupping benefits include:
Improved muscle performance
Improved scar mobility
How does cupping work?
Cupping tissue liftLotion is applied to the skin to improve suction and contact quality of the silicone cups on the skin. Treatment time can range from a few minutes to 10 to 20 minutes depending on the patient and treatment area. The negative pressure works well in a moving technique as our therapists glide the silicone cups across the skin.
Patients will feel slight pressure during treatment, similar to a massage, and experience little to no pain. Following treatment, small, pin-sized red dots or bruising surrounding the treated area may appear.
Cupping can help to treat:
Tightness, stiffness and swelling following healed fractures
Post-operative carpal tunnel syndrome
Brachial plexopathy (pain, decreased movement and sensation in the arm and shoulder)
Rotator cuff injury
Shoulder pain and stiffness
Low back pain
Neck pain and stiffness
…And much more!
For more information on cupping, please contact a center near you today.
Mike StainoBy: Michael Staino, O.T., CHT, COMT. Michael works in NovaCare Rehabilitation’s South Jersey community and works extensively out of our Manahawkin center. Along with managing hand therapy in his market, Michael specializes in treating patients with hand and upper extremity injuries. He is an occupational therapist, certified hand therapist and certified orthopaedic manual therapist of the upper extremity with more than 24 years of experience.