As I read about and hear more stories of young athletes collapsing during sporting events and reflect on February being American Heart Month, I also think about the times I should have done a better job asking medical history questions (those that weren’t already checked on the history form) and taking baseline vitals for my young, healthy athletes and non-retiree patients, not just the retirees.
One of our primary roles as therapists is to thoroughly examine our patients, which includes screening for conditions that may negatively impact their response to their plan of care and interventions. Part of our examination that is commonly overlooked is taking vital signs.
Steve Kinkead, SLP
January is National Mentoring Month and the perfect time to review our stance on the topic. We hire new therapy graduates throughout the year, and mentorship has always been an important point of discussion in both the interview and decision-making process.
Patients with breast cancer whose lymph nodes have been disrupted during surgery have an increased risk of lymphedema. Providing education to pre and post-mastectomy patients is an important service for physical therapists to provide.
Rehab Director and lymphedema specialist Jennifer Fuentes, PT believes there is opportunity for therapists to be more aggressive in establishing relationships with therapy and oncology teams at treatment centers to reach patients earlier in the treatment timeline.
Kayla, age 24, is “one of the most rewarding patients” the therapy team in Oskaloosa, Iowa has ever worked with. She started outpatient rehab with RehabVisions’ therapists this past February, but it’s been more than a year since the initial accident and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) that began her long rehab journey.
In August of last year, Kayla was involved in a head-on motor vehicle accident (MVA) that left her with multiple life-threatening injuries, including lacerations, broken bones, fractures, cerebral artery injuries
Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD) occurs this year on September 22, the first day of fall. This day is an opportunity for therapists to raise awareness among the older populations in their community about the dangers of fall-related injuries and how to prevent them. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and national therapy organizations have collected helpful educational resources therapists may provide to patients and caregivers:
Jennifer Flanagan, SLP
Research shows that most short-term rehab patients will benefit from a home safety evaluation (HSE) to increase safety and independence as they return to their prior living arrangement. Director of Operations Tracy Milius, OT emphasizes this, saying, “You can provide therapy all day in a facility, but it is incomplete if you don’t ensure everything you have taught the patient can carry over to their home.” Returning patients to a safe home environment is also important when meeting the new skilled nursing (SNF) facility quality measures, particularly the percentage of short-term stay residents who are re-hospitalized after discharge.
To find your first job in the setting you favor most, with the caseload you prefer, the mentorship you require, and with a company that supports the opportunities you ask for must be something from a dream, right? Not for Brady Martin, PT, a 2015 graduate from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. He found all that at RehabVisions Outpatient Clinic located in Dickinson, North Dakota.
As therapists grow in their skill-sets it’s beneficial (for both therapist and patient) to occasionally get “back to the basics.” Mary Cater, PT explains why you should take breaks from equipment, and get back to hands-on exercise.
Many of us therapists can become bored with the same routine at work. We get into the habit of performing the same exercises the same way on each patient. It is no wonder patients become bored and we become frustrated that they don’t seem to be progressing. We can get so involved in using fancy equipment and new treatment techniques that we forget the basic exercise techniques we were trained in. Maybe it is time to return to the basic fundamentals of exercise without the use of all our equipment.
Last month we posted about the importance of educating referral sources and communities on the importance of early lymphedema diagnosis and treatment. Equally important is the actual creation and marketing of a lymphedema program.
Many different kinds of swelling can be treated in the same manner as a lymphedema diagnosis, and the program can also be marketed as swelling management services. There are a few basic elements to consider, according to Rehab Director Jennifer Fuentes, PT:
RehabVisions and our therapists are no strangers to the topic of dementia. Cognitive testing is a great way for disciplines to work together using their expertise in order to provide the highest level of quality care. We asked Regional Clinical Manager Jolene Denn, SLP to share how her team approaches dementia and her PT’s role. Jolene is an expert on dementia and has presented a CEU course on the subject to RehabVisions therapists.
Know the Stage
Lymphedema, a complex medical condition affecting one or more limbs of the body, can present additional challenges for people at risk who live in smaller communities, in that they are likely not surrounded by enough general providers and medical staff who know how to appropriately identify and treat it. This can create an under-served population and situations where patients are identified less quickly and at later stages.
Stacy Ashley Murphy
After a year and a half of lead-up, we were so excited to finally participate in APTA’s National Student Conclave this past Friday and Saturday in Omaha. RehabVisions was represented at the trade show as we doled out the world’s best ginger snaps and met bright PT students from all over the country.
As a middle-aged woman, I begrudgingly schedule several annual visits with my doctor for wellness checks and preventative screens. Despite dreading those annual appointments, I realize it is important for my overall health and making certain all is well, so I’m around to see my daughter grow and prosper. The one appointment I actually look forward to is my physical fitness test.
Granted, I don’t schedule a visit with my local therapist since I am already a licensed physical therapist, but I do set aside time every year to reassess my strength, balance, coordination, weight, nutrition, and exercise regimen.
An estimated one million Americans live with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and around 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. There is no cure for the progressive disease. Many physical therapists and occupational therapists are learning a newer exercise-based behavioral treatment technique, called LSVT BIG, that patients with a PD diagnosis can continue to practice after completing the initial program.
There never seems to be a shortage of ACL injury stories in sports news (hear about Stephen Hill earlier this month?). Many professional athletes, like Tom Brady and Tiger Woods, have torn their ACLs and subsequently raised societal awareness of this injury. The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine estimates there may be between 100,000 and 250,000 ACL injuries each year in the United States alone. Physical therapists are uniquely trained, educated and positioned to engage communities in the prevention of a torn ACL.
The diverse regions of our country offer unique opportunities for rehab clinics to develop programs that will most benefit their surrounding communities. In the retirement-friendly resort area of central Missouri, golf is a popular recreational sport. We asked Courtney Hulett, PT about BACKtoGOLF, a leading fitness program recognized by GOLF magazine.
In upcoming decades therapists can expect to treat an increasing number of geriatric patients as the United States experiences the coming “boom” in older populations. One therapy that has proven beneficial for a range of deficits in this population is aquatic therapy.
RehabVisions Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) Brenda Kreuter, PT had been a practicing clinician for a number of years before she happened upon the world of hand therapy.
Patients recovering from stroke and experiencing mobility difficulties are a common diagnosis seen by Steven Nicholson, PT. Neurological patients present some unique challenges in the inpatient environment. We asked Steven how he works with an acute care approach to neuro, and he recommended these three focuses to help short-term patients reach a safe and improved level of stability before discharge.
The initial goal must be education for both the patient and the family/primary caregiver. Because the patient may be experiencing cognitive impairment due to the stroke, it is important to provide comprehensive education for the family.
Over the past decade we have seen an explosion of research on how to become more effective in dealing with patients who are in pain. Global statistics consistently demonstrate 25 percent of the world’s population deal with chronic pain. Looking at current research, one of the overriding treatment strategies is patient education.
It’s the time of year to discuss running safety with patients and communities. Sharing your expertise and advice can help properly prepare a body for running and jogging season–and hopefully prevent injury.
Tracy Milius, OT
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, more than 13 million US citizens have incontinence. What many of these people do not realize is that they have viable treatment options within PT or OT to improve their quality of life.
In an effort to promote awareness, we asked Melissa Clarke, OT who has been treating patients with incontinence for three and a half years, a few questions:
What patient demographics do you typically treat and what patient education do you provide?
Evidence-based practice is defined as the “integration of the best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values.”¹ The demand for and interest in applying evidence to rehabilitation practice has substantially grown in the past decade, in part, by the increase in publication of systematic reviews (over 700 relevant to the practice of physical therapy alone), other articles related to evidence in practice, and transition towards quality value-based reporting and payment models.
Bill Mannewitz, PT
Every business looks for that edge that allows them to have the most qualified and most capable employees. The key to creating this environment is to hire only those who are able to perform the job specific tasks required of them. Rehab departments can help local businesses achieve this goal, decrease the risk of injury, and decrease costs associated with worker’s compensation premiums by offering post-offer employment testing and fit-for-duty testing.
Dry needling is a relatively new treatment option for physical therapists. Although it is not an approved intervention in all 50 states it is within the scope of physical therapist practice issued by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and becoming more common practice in some of our clinics. Dry needling has shown effectiveness for patients with everything from low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, hip pain, tension headaches and migraines, to fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis and tendinitis.
Is your rehab department maximizing its potential? This post is the fifth and final in a series. It’s based on some items RehabVisions focuses on when we manage therapy departments, but it’s also a conversation starter about things you could be doing differently.
#5 Think About Your Image
Remember Andre Agassi in those old Canon camera commercials in which he professed, “Image is everything”? Well, right or wrong, what he said is ultimately true. People base a large portion of their perceptions on what they see. The image your rehab department is showing may be the deciding factor in whether a patient chooses you as their rehab provider.