Posted on 10/31/2017 by Valerie L. Bobb, P.T., DPT, WCS, ATC
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a time to honor to those who have been affected by the disease. Approximately one in eight (12 percent) women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, so chances are you have been touched by somebody who has had breast cancer. The good news is breast cancer death rates continue to decrease each year. This leaves women (or men!) free to live a full life once they have recovered from treatment.
Any type of surgery can leave a patient with restriction in their neck, shoulder or arms, fatigue from chemotherapy or radiation and at risk for bone loss. However, physical therapists trained in treating cancer can design a program to regain motion, return to a healthy exercise program and return to all those things you love. That is why you fought so hard to overcome cancer!
Exercise is shown to reduce nausea, pain and stress and maintain a good weight. With your doctor’s permission and a physical therapists help, you can begin a program that focuses on moderate cardiovascular training, light weight training, flexibility and stress reduction.
Specific shoulder range of motion and strength exercises can help recovery from breast surgery, improve function, quality of life and body image and confidence. Resistance training is safe after surgery (once your restrictions have been lifted) and focuses on the muscles affected by the surgical procedure and what muscles you need to get back to your activities. Aerobic exercise is recommended three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes and can consist of walking, swimming or your favorite low impact exercise.
Both aerobic and strength training is vital to counteract bone loss related to chemotherapy. It is especially important if you are post-menopausal when you are diagnosed. Physical therapists can also teach you better ways to move and lift that will reduce chance of injury and excessive pressure on your spine. Fatigue is also another side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. Besides exercise, things such as deep breathing, stress reduction techniques and proper nutrition also help with recovery.
Many risk factors for breast cancers are beyond our control, such as age, family history and other medical conditions. However, you can control others, such as:
Weight: Being overweight, especially in postmenopausal women, is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Estrogen is stored in fat and, after menopause, is our body’s main source of estrogen. The more fat tissue you have, the higher your estrogen levels.
Diet: Diet is suspected as a risk factor; however, research is not clear on exactly what foods increase our risk. It is recommended to limit foods high in animal fat and read labels to make sure the source has limited added hormones and soy. A low-fat diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is generally recommended.
Exercise: There is growing evidence that shows exercise can reduce breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends engaging in 45 to 60 minutes of physical exercise five or more days a week.
Alcohol and Smoking: Studies show that breast cancer risks increase with regular amounts of alcohol consumption. Smoking in general increases alcohol levels. Please contact your local hospital for a cessation program.
Please contact your local women’s and men’s health physical therapist for guidance on an exercise program for breast cancer recovery and return to your life!
Valerie BobbBy: Valerie L. Bobb, P.T., DPT, WCS, ATC, women’s and men’s heath physical therapist for Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation Outpatient Services in Dallas, TX. Baylor, NovaCare Rehabilitation and Select Physical Therapy are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.
Posted on 5/23/2019 by Andrea Pavlik, C.O., Cfm
You just brought your perfect little bundle of joy home and are eagerly looking forward to watching them grow. A few months go by and you notice that their head shape is flat on one side. Why is this? Is it natural? Should you be concerned?
In 1992, the American Association of Pediatrics launched its most successful program ever: the “Back to Sleep” campaign, which served to combat Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS, also known as crib death, is the sudden, unexplained and leading cause of death in children from one moth to one year of age. The campaign encouraged parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs, helping to reduce SIDS by more than 40 percent.
However, the “Back to Sleep” campaign had a now recognized unintended consequence: plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome. Plagiocephaly is characterized by the development of a flat spot on the back or side of the head. A baby’s head is very soft, and they spend excessive time laying on their backs while in cribs, beds, bouncers, car seats, high chairs, etc. This leads to an increase in the number of infants who acquire skull deformities.
Why do babies’ heads deform?
Plasticity of newborns skull make is susceptible to external pressures
Immobility of newborns
Abnormalities to the skull present at birth
What are contributing risk factors?
Prolonged positioning on their backs and back of head
Lack of tummy time
Multiple birth infants
Is this serious?
It is perfectly normal for newborns to have abnormal head shapes; however, they should resolve within a few weeks.
If flat spots are still apparent, some help may be needed to correct the problem.
Do a simple test by looking at your baby’s head and comparing to the chart below.
To be sure of the normalcy of your baby’s head shape, consult your physician.
It is fixable? Absolutely! There are several treatment options to help correct the flat spot.
Let nature take her course: Many minor flat spots will resolve on their own as the child ages, but try to keep your baby off their backs as much as possible by engaging in some quality tummy time.
Tummy time: This can be done starting from the day you bring your baby home from the hospital. Tummy time is simply that: placing your child, while supervised, on their tummy or side. This can include while being carried, diapering, feeding and playing. Please check out this tummy time guide.
STARband: By using a plastic helmet that is worn for 23 hours per day, your baby’s head is gently guided into a more normal shape. Please consult your physician and/or orthotist for more detailed information.
NovaCare Prosthetics & Orthotics offers complimentary consultations for cranial remolding helmets in many of our locations, courtesy of our certified cranial remolding specialists and orthotists. Our team will educate you on repositioning techniques, plagiocephaly and protocols for the device your child may use. Over the course of treatment, we can adjust the custom-fit helmet as the baby’s head improves.
For more information or to schedule your complimentary consultation, please contact a NovaCare Prosthetics & Orthotics center near you
The cutie pictured above is one of our cranial remolding graduates, Arvy Roberts.
By: Andrea Pavlik, C.O., Cfm. Andrea is a certified orthotist with NovaCare Prosthetics & Orthotics in Sheboygan, WI.
We have the same overall goals: obtaining outcomes and delivering exceptional patient experiences. In addition, we have sophisticated platforms to effectively partner with you and share data. Experience our compassionate approach and let us - in partnership with you - help your patients heal and get back to work, athletics and daily life.
Posted on 4/15/2019 by Karrianna Gallagher, OTD, OTR/L, CHT
Occupational therapist? I already have a job…
The term ‘occupation’ is more general than what we typically think. Because a third of our day is spent at work, the word ‘occupation’ has taken on that set meaning. This is interesting given that another one third of our day is spent sleeping. So why isn’t sleeping considered an occupation? This is likely because everyone sleeps, and when you think of your occupation you think of something that is uniquely you. But what is uniquely you is actually a collection of occupations, not just the one that takes up the most time. You could be a mom, teacher, gardener, friend, sculptor, chef, etc. These are the roles that you identify with and the occupations that occupy your time.
Occupations are how we define ourselves and how we experience life. It’s likely that some occupations take up more of your time than others, but that doesn’t mean you identify with them any less. Each of them is part of who you are.
We live our most fulfilling life when we are able to participate in all of our valued occupations to the fullest extent. Now, imagine breaking your wrist or tearing your rotator cuff. Suddenly you can’t hold your baby, write a grocery list, chop vegetables, press down piano keys, throw a ball or achieve a full night of pain-free sleep (which we all know was already being interrupted by the baby!). Every part of who you are and the way you define yourself as a person is impacted by this injury.
There are many members of the health care team who will play a part in helping you heal. One of the team members may be an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists have the knowledge of your injury accompanied by the expertise in analyzing the necessary activities in order to guide your rehabilitation program. Their goal is to ensure your range of motion, strength and endurance are restored in the safest, most efficient way so you can get back to fully engaging in all of the occupations you want and need to live your best life.
Hand therapist? But I tore my rotator cuff…
A hand therapist is an occupational or physical therapist who has specialized knowledge in the upper limb - shoulders, arms and hands. The anatomy and mechanics of hands and arms is extremely complex and intricately connected, which is why it requires specialization. Think about all of the various movements you use your arms and hands for – turning a door knob, using a fork, tucking in your shirt, etc. Even seemingly simple tasks will be impacted by an injury to the smallest finger bone.
What’s the difference in a hand therapist who is an occupational therapist and a physical therapist?
More than 80 percent of certified hand therapists are occupational therapists, the other 20 percent are physical therapists. Both occupational and physical hand therapists have similar goals in terms of helping you heal from injury. The main premise of occupational therapy is the therapeutic use of meaningful occupation as a form of treatment. The idea here is to motivate a person to bend their elbow so they are able to feed themselves. In addition, occupational therapy has its roots in mental health. They can address not only the physical injury, but the emotional components as well.
So, now you know… occupational therapists don’t help you find jobs and hand therapists don’t just treat hands. Occupational therapists who specialize in hand therapy are creative and caring shoulder, arm and hand experts. They take you on a rehabilitation journey where your ability to return to your unique collection of meaningful occupations is the finish line.
By: Karrianna Gallagher, OTD, OTR/L, CHT. Karrianna is an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist with NovaCare Rehabilitation in Minnesota. She has experience in rehabilitation non-surgical and surgical shoulder, arm and hand injuries.