Category: Physical Therapy

The Dangerous Effects of Stress

Stress seems to have a way of making it into everyday life. Whether it is that long commute home, looming deadlines at work or fighting with family members over dinner plans or whose turn it is to wash the dishes, it is certainly a way of life for many people. The effects of prolonged stress, however, may be more damaging than many may think.

Stress can affect one’s mental and emotional well-being and stability. Prolonged amounts can make this problem drastically worse. Whether suffering from stress due to work, financial, home or other relationships seeking the help of a counsellor can be beneficial to someone struggling to cope with the effects that it can have.

The human body perceives stress as a threat and prolonged exposure to this threat has a way of manifesting itself in physical ways in addition to the mental and emotional implications that many often think of.Stress can lead to sudden weight gain or weight loss. It can cause hormones to spiral out of control causing the body to confuse what danger is real and what is perceived.

The fight or flight hormone, adrenaline, may be in full force during times of distress causing the body to be constantly hyper aware of what is going on around it and unable to relax. This can have catastrophic effects on the heart, digestive system, and nervous system, including the brain. It can lead to increased blood pressure, increased anxiety levels as well assleeping issues.

Stress also causes increased levels cortisol in the body. Sometimes call the stress hormone, cortisol is released and stored in the body during times of distress which in turn can cause weight gain and other serious health implications if the hormone is not used for what the body actually intended it for. Cortisol inhibits or slows the reaction of nonessential functions in the body to increase the availability of glucose to places where it would be more needed during a threat, such as the digestive and immune systems. It also increases the amount of tissue needed to repair cells in case of injury (from the perceived threat). Then in the likely event that every time it is released one is not being attacked and therefore the hormone is not getting used, the body will store a large amount of it fat.

Stress can have a large impact on psychological and emotional issues as well. It can lead to trouble concentrating, depression, anxiety, mood swings, eating disorders and a wide variety of other emotional issues. It can have lasting effects on homes, lives, relationships and finances if allowed to keep happening.

Handling stress is not always easy. Often the contributing factors cannot always be eliminated but one can learn ways of relaxing their minds and bodies to ensure when the stressors do come around they will be better equipped to handle them. Exercise, yoga, meditation and even counselling are all proven effective forms in dealing with stress and its effects. As they say, laughter is the best medicine, so finding joy and laughter out of the simple things in life has also proven to be an effective means of handling one’s problems.

Often times finding the underlying causes of stress can help get a handle on controlling it. Sessions with a counsellor can help sort out whether stress is work related, a problem at home or if it is a mixture of things. No matter what is causing stress finding the means to control or eliminate it will ensure it does not have any more lasting, long term negative effects on one’s health or way of life.

5 Ways to Stay Motivated During Physical Therapy

After an injury or surgery, it is quite common to find your ability to move is limited, or that you have less functional strength and mobility than you had prior to the event. Often in these cases, your general medicine doctor will prescribe physical therapy to help you re-learn proper movement patterns as well as regain your strength, flexibility, range of motion, endurance, and general physical independence.

When faced with your first physical or occupational therapy session you may experience nervous or excited emotions due to the fact that this will be a new experience for you. However, you will soon learn that therapy sessions typically consist of a lot of strenuous, physical work. The procedures, treatments, and exercises you undergo while in therapy may be strenuous, and at times even mildly painful. Here are five tips for staying motivated to get through your therapy sessions.

Understand Motivation

Motivation is a complex subject, but in short, everyone is motivated differently based on their genetic, social and cultural backgrounds. While something may motivate you, it may not necessarily motivate other people as well. The important thing is to understand specifically why you want to undergo therapy. Do you want to restore your mobility and regain your independence? Do you want to rehab that knee and get back to your favorite sport? Focus on what you hope to get out of therapy and set that image as an end goal.

Finding the Right Therapist

One of the biggest factors of your success will be your relationship with your physical therapist. While it is important to know they have the proper education, licensing, and qualifications, you should also get a feel for their bedside manner. Will they encourage and motivate you? Do you feel a positive connection with this person? If someone does not seem to be a fit with you, feel free to continue interviewing other physical therapists.

Monitor and Track Your Data

Your first session with a physical therapist will likely include an initial evaluation where they study your condition and take several measurements regarding your strength and mobility with the affected area. Your therapist should explain to you what these measurements detail about your condition, and what your goals should be for each measurement. Ask your therapist to keep you involved with tracking your progress, by giving you a copy of your results after each session. This alone will do wonders for your motivation.

Find a Partner

Typically when you are undergoing therapy, you will meet other people with conditions or therapy programs similar to your own. When this happens, it may be helpful to strike up a conversation and build a relationship with this person. Even if you simply shoot each other an email or text every day to see how things are going and offer motivation, will keep you both accountable to your therapy routine, and keep you inspired to work hard.

Motivate Yourself with Music

Anyone who has ever worked out knows that listening to music can help you maintain motivation and work through the pain when the exercise gets tough. Feel free to discuss bringing your own music and headphones to your sessions with your therapist.

3 Tips to Help Improve Home Health Exercise Compliance In Physical Therapy


One of the biggest challenges that a physical therapist will confront in home health is educating the patient on the importance of being compliant with the exercise program that is prescribed.

Patients and the caregivers first have to understand the importance of why you have been assigned as a rehabilitation professional, to help in improving their independence and quality of life.

There are several tips that a physical therapist can use to help improve exercise compliance in the home.

Make Sure The Patient And Caregivers Have Input Into Their Rehabilitation Goals.

Most physical therapists will tell you that this is a given and that it should be done on every evaluation. However, that may not always be the case as I have seen in my 19 years of working in the field. To help anyone become more involved in their physical well-being, it is recommended that patient has a say in what they want to achieve and not so much in what we in physical therapy think they should achieve.

If someone is actively involved in their healthcare and quality of life, there is a better chance they may be more proactive in accomplishing the exercise program to begin with.

Keep The Exercises Short And Concise and Provide Copies Of The Exercises.

Many of the patients we see in the home health sector do not have a strong exercise background to begin with. Over loading someone with a dozen exercises on your first visit will do nothing but increase non-compliance.

Providing a copy of the exercise routine and starting the initial home visit with three or four exercises to be completed twice a day, can help with the gradual progression of exercises as the patient begins to improve both in strength, endurance, and pain relief if pain is a problem to begin with.

By having a picture copy of the home exercise program and a grid where each session can be marked off and recorded, will provide some accountability on the patients behalf to see that everyone is working together to get sufficient results.

Involve The Patient And Caregiver In Discussion After Each Treatment To Be Sure Goals Are Being Met.

After each treatment it is important to be sure some time is taken to sit down and discuss the progress or, lack of with both the patient and caregiver if available,to be sure that progress is on track with the time frame you have established. And if not, what can be done to help speed up the process or, is there a possibility that the goals were too aggressive to begin with?

Exercise compliance in the differing degrees will be determined in a large part by the commitment and discipline of the patient and family support. It will start with the patients attitude and their resolve to overcome what their disability may be and, if they are internally motivated to succeed.

Richard is a Physical Therapist Assistant and Certified Personal Trainer with the American Council on Exercise. He has been a PTA since 1995 working extensively in home health with orthopedic patients and deconditioned older adults.

Maintaining Life Long Fitness After Physical Therapy

After having gone through a dedicated physical therapy program for either a medical event such as low back surgery or, stroke or, an elective surgery like knee or hip replacement, now is the time when you are released from physical therapy to springboard into a dedicated fitness program to not only help get you back to where you were physically but, to improve your overall fitness levels.

Transitioning from physical rehabilitation to a fitness program can be done through several methods however, getting professional advice to help smooth out the process is recommended.

Your prior level of health and fitness will determine your starting point. It is advisable that if you have any questions on how to start an effective and efficient exercise program that you seek further instructions from either you’re attending Physical Therapist or a Certified Personal Trainer that has credentials in working with older adults.

Many Physical Therapy clinics today for instance, have a continual health and fitness program that is guided by their staff that you can transfer over to after physical therapy discharge. In this way, you can be assured that you will receive clear and concise and most of all, safe exercise programs that will benefit you with regard to your overall health status.

By seeking to continue upgrade your physical progress in regards to health and fitness, you will be helping to decide your own destiny when it comes to your health. Be aware that healthcare costs today is the number one reason why individuals in this country have to file bankruptcy.

Your goal is to be sure you do not allow yourself to fall into that category by doing your part to not only improve your health and fitness as you age but, to also to be able to enjoy a better quality of life.

Too many patients that I have personally worked with feel that once their physical rehabilitation is over with that they no longer are obligated to continue with the exercise program and instructions laid out.

It is imperative that you as a patient look for ways to increase your fitness to help cut down the chances of a medical recurrence. A stronger and leaner body will assure you that not only do you feel and look better but, that you also have more energy and sleep better.

Setting a personal goal today to continue to improve your health and fitness after rehabilitation should be a goal that will not only help your personally but help financially as well.