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Wishek Hospital

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Sunday
Feb012015

Physical Therapy: Caring for the Whole Patient  

The WHC PT Team (left to right): Rebecca Bender, Kristen Burgad-Heidrich, John Kosiak and PT Aide/Receptionist Gerri HornerPhysical therapists are licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility.  Our PTs at the Wishek Hospital and Clinics are each trained in the treatment and care of orthopedic, neurological, post-fracture/post-surgical care, wound care and sports medicine conditions.  Rebecca Bender is currently undergoing a specialty certification in orthopedics and manual therapy.  John Kosiak and Kristen Burgad-Heidrich are both certified athletic trainers who specialize in sports medicine conditions.  All three answered these questions to shed light on the whole-patient care our PT department provides (information is also adapted from moveforwardpt.com).

What are the most common injuries that you treat?
PTs examine each individual and develop a plan by using treatment techniques.  These techniques aid patients in their ability to move, reduce pain, restore function and prevent disability.  The most common physical therapy treatments we do are for pain in the lower back, neck, shoulder and knee.  We also deal with post-operative conditions (total knee, shoulder or hip replacement, fracture repairs, rotator cuff repairs, etc.).

What are some of the new or most-utilized pieces of equipment you use on patients?
One of the newer pieces is our Game Ready machine which provides ice and compression simultaneously.  We currently have sleeves to treat ankle, knee and shoulder injuries.  We use mechanical traction (stretching through harnesses) to treat lower back and cervical (neck) conditions.  Electrical stimulation is used for various things like pain, muscle control and swelling. 

While treating student athletes for ankle sprains, shoulder pain, knee injuries, ACL tears, or post-surgical repairs, what other injuries do you expect in an athletic season?
Concussions.  To treat those, we follow a five step program to make sure athletes are ready to return to their designated sport.  We assist in strengthening their neck muscles as well to prevent further head injuries.

When would you recommend someone to call the PT department?
North Dakota is a state where some insurances allow direct access to physical therapists, meaning that you may see a PT without first getting a referral.  However, some insurances (like Medicare) do require that a PT patient is first seen and referred by a provider.  It would be best to first check with your insurance company to verify coverage before making an appointment.

Physical therapy, at times, can be an equally effective alternative to surgery and prescription drugs for numerous conditions ranging from back pain and degenerative disk disease to knee osteoarthritis.

Since elderly patients are among the majority of your caseloads, how is treatment you offer them different than those for younger generations? 
When working with the older population, there is a greater chance of prior injuries and conditions that may be affecting their overall functioning.  They may also have underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or a previous stroke.  All of these issues can modify the way we provide treatment and affect the care we give them.  For example, a patient may see us for elevated shoulder pain, but during the initial evaluation, we address their impairments, and their goals as well as their shoulder pain.  Overall we look at the patient as a whole.  We will then work through those issues with the patient.

What are some things patients can do during the winter to keep their mobility loose and pain at a minimum? 
Basically, try to keep moving.  We all get pretty sedentary during winter months, not wanting to walk on ice or get out into the cold.  We encourage people to get gym memberships and take advantage of facilities open to the public for walking.  There are also general strengthening exercises you can do throughout your day, whether standing and sitting. 

The website www.moveforwardpt.com (and facebook page) has great exercise tips that you can implement throughout your workday

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