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Physical Therapy as a Means for Prevention 

By Matt Schumacher, DPT, MTC, CAFS, CSCS
matts@excelptmt.com

What do you think of when you hear physical therapy? Most individuals may have experienced or know of someone who experienced physical therapy with a past injury or surgery. This is the bread and butter of what we do as physical therapists through rehabilitating individuals back to what they love to do; however, most people do not know the benefits of seeing a physical therapist for “prehabilitation” or wellness checkups prior to a possible or potential injury from occurring.  

Just as one goes to the dentist for a biannual checkup for prevention of possible future dental issues, physical therapy has and can be an option for the public in addressing possible musculoskeletal impairments, muscle strength deficits, and range of motion deficits in the body. As most of us all know, exercise has been suggested to aid in multiple health benefits such as preventing chronic disease, boosting mental health, increasing overall longevity, reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, and improving bone health –  just to name a few. As orthopedic physical therapists, we are trained and knowledgeable in rehabilitation and appropriate exercise prescription following injury and/or surgery, but we are also trained in injury prevention by providing patients and clients resources for reducing their chance of an injury. 

As spring is approaching and we are gearing up for the beautiful Montana summer, physical therapy may be of benefit to you or someone you know to increase your chances of a healthy, active, and injury-free year. It is typically easier to address these possible impairments before an injury may emerge versus after an injury has occurred. Most everyone, including you, may benefit from a “biannual checkup” with physical therapy! 

 

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Matt Schumacher, DPT, MTC, CAFS, CSCS received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND where he was recognized as a nominee for Outstanding Student Award in his physical therapy class demonstrating excellence in academics, volunteering, and servant leadership. Following graduation, he received training from Gray Institute with a Certification in Applied Functional Science (CAFS). Matt also completed a rigorous year-long program with Evidence in Motion (EIM) achieving his Manual Therapy Certification (MTC) gaining advanced training in mobilization and manipulation techniques for common diagnoses of the spine and extremities. Matt specializes in assisting individuals following post-operative rehabilitation, sports medicine rehabilitation, and orthopedic injuries/ailments of the spine and extremities utilizing advanced knowledge and skill with manual therapy and appropriate exercise prescription. 

5 Things I'd Like You to Know Before Your First Visit

By Bobby Bemis, DPT, COMT, DIP. MT, FAAOMPT
bobby@excelptmt.com

What is physical therapy? How can it help me? What should I know? What role do I play in it? What if I don’t like going to the gym? Will it hurt? How do I know if I need it? What if I don’t like being touched? What if I don’t like exercising? Is it a quick fix? Maybe I should just get surgery? What if I can’t be helped? Maybe I just need to be tougher? Do I need therapy if my medication helps the pain?

I am guessing that if you are reading this article that you have asked yourself one or more of these questions before. Most of my patients have and it can be incredibly overwhelming. I am here to help you navigate the physical therapy world and maybe even a little of the healthcare world in general.  

Full disclosure. I am biased. I love physical therapy. I love that a generally non-invasive form of healthcare can benefit so many. I love that like so many things in life you often get out what you put in. I love that physical therapists, in general, are empathetic, positive, altruistic people that want nothing more than to see people walk out of the clinic in a better place than when they came in. This blog is for those of you who aren’t quite sure what to expect regarding physical therapy and how you can take advantage of what it has to offer.  

Physical therapy has undergone a major evolution over the past decades. Long gone are the years of using treatment time to primarily administer modalities (e.g. ice, heat, ultrasound, tape, etc.). No longer do we regard injuries as a purely physical experience and ignore all the other components of a person that can impact their pain and dysfunction. Physical therapists and hopefully other healthcare professionals now view patients in what is called a biopsychosocial framework. That means your pain is not only impacted by biological factors (e.g. arthritis) but psychological factors (e.g. anxiety) and social factors (e.g. a fight with your spouse). This framework continues to be supported by more and more high-level research from all over the healthcare world.  

Physical therapists are musculoskeletal experts and gateway healthcare practitioners. What does that mean? When it comes to musculoskeletal issues you will be hard pressed to find another healthcare professional that is better at diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. As gateway healthcare practitioners physical therapists have the ability to see patients without a referral and we are educated on how to screen for other medical conditions that may not be appropriate for physical therapy. In these cases, we can refer to specialists that have expertise in the appropriate area of care.  

Physical therapy can help you organize the complex and confusing world of today’s healthcare resources and options. Do you need to see a surgeon? Do you need to see a non-surgical orthopedic physician? Would you benefit from massage therapy? Would you benefit from consultation regarding a steroid injection? Could you benefit from some mental health counseling? Would a registered dietician be helpful? Or are you just where you need to be…in physical therapy?! 

Here’s 5 suggestions/recommendations regarding your first visit for physical therapy: 

  1. Come prepared. If you feel like you might be anxious, overwhelmed or nervous take the time to write out any questions you may have before your visit. That way you can refer to your notes when your mind goes blank.  
  2. Come with an open mind. Try to put aside any prior experiences you have had with the healthcare system.  
  3. Don’t get too fixated on imaging. Imaging is good at ruling things out but not great at ruling in things that are causing your pain. There is not a good correlation between tissue degeneration and pain…so be careful.  
  4. Remember that all pain is perceived in your brain…so your pain can change depending on the state of your mind. There are techniques and strategies to address neurological pathways that may have developed over time that negatively impact your pain.  
  5. Physical therapy is an active endeavor. It is very rare that a physical therapist can magically fix your pain or dysfunction in one visit. My goal is to get you back out there ASAP…but it will not happen overnight and will not be done passively.  

One of the biggest complaints I hear from patients regarding health care professionals, in general, is that most don’t listen and they lack empathy. Keep in mind that as a physical therapist at Excel Physical Therapy, I have 45 minutes to do the best I can to figure out what is going on and how to best provide you with the tools to improve and get better. To steal a line from the psychologist and author Malcolm Gladwell we must use “thin-slicing” to help us figure out the best path for our patients. That means that a good therapist or healthcare practitioner will skillfully direct the conversation to get the information that will allow them to best figure out a plan of care that can best impact the patient for the better. We want to hear your entire story and we will…over time.

One of the beauties of physical therapy is that we spend more one on one time with patients than almost any other healthcare profession. If you are honest with yourself and take into account your biological, psychological and social factors that may bias your opinion toward your healthcare practitioner and you still feel like you are being treated without empathy or by an outdated biological model, simply find a healthcare practitioner that works better for you. 

How can we help you? We are a specialized physical therapy practice that collaboratively provides the most effective manual, orthopedic and sports therapy treatments, allowing us to efficiently return patients to their highest level of comfort and functionality. 

We deliver one-on-one, direct patient treatment by our licensed, specialty-certified physical therapists to ensure preeminent physical therapy services and patient care. We have served the Gallatin Valley since 2001 and are locally owned and operated by physical therapists.

At Excel Physical Therapy, our entire team–physical therapy team, massage therapy team, front office care coordinators and patient services assistants–ALL work very hard each day to welcome, listen and help you to feel better as a result of our evidence-based treatment plans and services. Your excellent outcome is our sole mission: Superior care from expert clinicians, supported by passionate staff, impacting the Gallatin Valley and beyond.

Thanks for taking that time to read my article. I hope you find this information helpful. See you at Excel PT! 

 

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Bobby Bemis, DPT, COMT, DIP.MT, FAAOMPT is a fellowship-trained physical therapist at Excel Physical Therapy.  Bobby specializes in orthopedic manual physical therapy of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. Although the spine is his specialty, Bobby has a high level of training in all regions of the body. After receiving his undergraduate degree, Bobby earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, became a Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist (COMT), Diplomat of Manual Therapy (Dip. MT), as well as becoming certified in trigger point dry needling. Bobby then went on to become Fellowship trained and was then designated as a “Fellow” with the American Academy of Manual Physical Therapy (AAOMPT) after passing a rigorous oral and practical exam. Only a very small percentage of physical therapists achieve this elite status. The “Fellow” is a physical therapist who has demonstrated advanced clinical, analytical, and hands-on skills in the treatment of musculoskeletal orthopedic disorders and is internationally recognized for their competence and expertise in the practice of manual physical therapy. 

Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS attends US Ski & Snowboard Class at the USSA Center of Excellence

By Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS
jason@excelptmt.com

Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS, of Excel Physical Therapy, recently attended the US Ski & Snowboard Team Medical Emergencies in Skiing and Snowboarding (MESS) Course at the USSA Center of Excellence in Park City, UT. The course focused on concussion evaluation, management and rehabilitation, as well as athlete development for ski and snowboard athletes.   Jason is an owner and physical therapist with Excel Physical Therapy of Bozeman and Manhattan, and he volunteers as a physical therapist for the US Ski & Snowboard Teams.

Injury Prevention in Nordic Skiing: Elbow & Shoulder Pain

By Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS
jason@excelptmt.com

Due to the repetitive stress from poling, Nordic skiers can develop overuse injuries of both the elbow and/or the shoulder. The most common of these are medial epicondylitis and shoulder impingement syndrome.   The underlying cause of the development of these injuries is multi-factorial: poling technique, pole length, and poor strength and conditioning.  

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Injury Prevention in Nordic Skiing: Knee Pain

By Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS
jason@excelptmt.com

Patellofemoral pain, or anterior knee pain, is the most common type of knee pain in Nordic skiing.   Repetitive stress to the soft tissue around the patella (knee cap) occurs due to poor tracking of the patella in the femoral groove.  This poor tracking can be the result of hip weakness causing poor control of movement of the femur (thigh bone), poor stabilization from the foot and ankle, and poor skiing technique.

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Injury Prevention in Nordic Skiing: Technique

By Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS
jason@excelptmt.com

Often I think Nordic (cross-country) skiing is the perfect sport for fitness.  Nordic skiing is a great workout and way to enjoy the outdoors in winter.  Plus, it has a very low injury rate.  In fact compared to alpine skiing and snowboarding, Nordic skiing has 20X fewer severe injuries and 5X fewer injuries overall.1

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Technique & the Prevention of Alpine Ski Injuries: Part 4

By Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS
jason@excelptmt.com

Nearly all injuries in alpine skiing are classified as traumatic, or due to a fall.  As mentioned earlier, under Strength & Injury Prevention, the majority of knee injuries in alpine skiing occur on the left knee.   Therefore it is important to work on your ski technique to be able to turn equally well to your right and left.  With the snowpack being shallower and conditions not yet epic, the early season is a great time to work on perfecting your turns.  Aim to stay balanced on your skis with your hips centered and perfect your turns to both sides.  A Professional Ski Instructor or coach can make all the difference, so take the time to perfect your technique by taking a lesson at one or our local ski resorts, or sign-up for coaching from a community ski team such as the Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF).

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"Jackie was knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and caring." --H.N., Manhattan client

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