Back injuries can happen to anyone – including young students who head back to school wearing a backpack that’s too heavy or big for them.
Indeed, more than 28,600 people were treated in a hospital or by a doctor for injuries related to wearing a backpack in 2013, according to statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of those patients, nearly 30 percent were children between the ages of 5 and 18.
“Improperly used backpacks may injure muscles and joints and can lead to severe back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems,” said Dr. Daniel Green, orthopaedic surgeon and spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Parents and teachers should educate kids on the proper way to wear a backpack to reduce the risk of injury.”
To avoid any injuries to the back or shoulders, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following tips:
- Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
- Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight.
- Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
- If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, they may be difficult to roll in snow, and they may not fit in some lockers.
Parents can also help prevent backpack-related pain by taking the following steps, according to the AAOS and Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America:
- Encourage your child or teen to tell you about numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, which may indicate a poor fit or too much weight is being carried.
- If the backpack seems too heavy, have your child carry some of them in their arms to ease the load on their back.
- Make sure the backpack is the appropriate size for your child.
- Watch your child to see if putting on or taking off the backpack is a struggle.
- Encourage your child to drop off heavier books at their locker throughout the day, if time permits.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America
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+ Help a child reach their healthy weight and prevent diseases associated with childhood obesity. Learn about the Bon Secours In Motion Youth Fitness Program.
Having arthritis puts people at a higher risk for falling and fall-related injuries, according to new federal statistics.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that when people had arthritis, they were 1.3 times more likely to have a fall, 2.4 times more likely to have two or more falls and 2.5 times more likely to be injured after falling.
“It’s important to know the risk of falling that comes with arthritis,” said Dr. Alexander Aboka, an orthopaedic surgeon with Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists. “Many patients can help protect themselves by staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding joint injuries.”
Falls can be extremely dangerous. They can cause hip fractures and brain injuries. They can also affect a person’s ability to do daily activities, be physically active and stay social.
“Although each patient is different and needs careful evaluation, some people are able to improve their gait, balance and lower body strength by exercising,” Dr. Aboka said.
The number of people nationwide with arthritis is growing by about 1 million each year, according to the CDC. About one in five adults in the United States or 52.5 million people have arthritis. Arthritis is the most common cause of disability among adults in the U.S.
While most people are familiar with the risk of falling for older people, falls and fall injuries are also common among middle-aged adults with arthritis, CDC researchers have found. One risk factor for falling is poor neuromuscular function, which affects balance and gait speed.
Federal health officials recommend arthritis patients follow these guidelines:
- Learn arthritis management strategies. These strategies give those with arthritis the skills and confidence to effectively manage their condition.
- Be active. Research shows physical activity decreases pain, improves function and delays disability It is recommended that people with arthritis undertake 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 times a week, or a total of 150 minutes per week. The 30 minutes can be broken down into three ten minute sessions throughout the day.
- Watch your weight. A healthy weight can limit disease progression and activity limitation In fact, for every pound lost, there is a 4 pound reduction in the load exerted on the knee. A modest weight loss (5 percent or 12 pounds for a 250 pound person) can help reduce pain and disability.
- See your doctor. Early diagnosis is critical to maintaining a good quality of life, particularly for people with inflammatory arthritis.
- Protect your joints. Avoiding injuries to joints can reduce the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 2
+ Learn about advanced techniques used in total joint replacement at Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists.
+ Find out how to improve your mobility and strength with the Arthritis Rehabilitation physical therapy program at Bon Secours In Motion.
Children who suffer from a concussion can experience a number of symptoms immediately after being injured. Physical symptoms – headache, dizziness and fatigue – begin immediately after the injury.
But emotional symptoms may appear later on during recovery, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.
For the study, researchers examined questionnaires from 235 children aged 11 to 22 who sustained a concussion. They answered questions regarding symptoms, cognitive and sports activity, and school and athletic performance for 3 months after their head injury or until all symptoms resolved.
While most children recovered from their concussion within two weeks of being injured, they experienced a large number of symptoms during that time period, according to a news release from the American Academy of Pediatrics. More than two-thirds of patients still had a headache one week after the injury. The most common symptoms were physical complaints such as headache, dizziness, and fatigue, which tended to start immediately after the injury but resolved over time.
Emotional symptoms such as frustration and irritability were not as common right after the injury, but developed later during the recovery period in many patients.
A majority of patients also experienced cognitive symptoms such as difficulty concentrating and taking longer to think.
The authors of the study conclude that physical symptoms of a concussion are likely to be more burdensome immediately after the injury, while the emotional symptoms often begin later even as the physical symptoms subside.
Understanding this is important for caregivers and families who will be managing symptoms and helping with the child’s recovery, the news release states.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
+ Learn about ImPACT™ Neurocognitive Testing at Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy and Sports Performance. ImPACT™ is a computer-based program that tests multiple aspects of brain function. Athletes, especially those involved in contact sports who are susceptible to concussions, should have a test before the season begins, to establish a baseline. If they sustain a head injury, they should be retested. This gives athletic trainers, physicians and other health care professionals a comparison to determine if it is safe for the athlete to return to play.
Participating in aerobic physical activity can be challenging if you have a disability.
Yet physical activity is something many doctors strongly recommend for adults with disabilities.
Nearly half of adults with disabilities who are able to do aerobic physical activity do not get any, according to a Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An additional 22 percent are not active enough. However, 44 percent of adults with disabilities who saw a doctor in the past year got a recommendation for physical activity.
“Physical activity is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “Unfortunately, many adults with disabilities don’t get regular physical activity. That can change if doctors and other health care providers take a more active role helping their patients with disabilities develop a physical fitness plan that’s right for them.”
Researchers from the CDC also found that working age adults with disabilities who do not get any aerobic physical activity are 50 percent more likely than their active peers to have a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, stroke or heart disease. Disabilities can affect a person’s ability to walk, climb stairs, see properly and concentrate, a news release states.
The good news is that most adults with disabilities are able to perform some type of aerobic activity. The benefits include: increased heart and lung function, better performance in daily living activities, greater independence, improved mental health and a decreased risk of developing chronic diseases.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that all adults – including those with disabilities – get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity each week. For muscle strengthening, health officials recommend activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups two or more times a week.
People who have disabilities should start slowly based on their abilities and level of fitness. It’s important to remember that most aerobic physical activity may need to be modified but some physical activity is better than none.
Aerobic physical activities may include:
- Aquatic therapy
- Ballroom dancing
- Brisk walking
- Cross-country and downhill skiing
- Hand-crank bicycling
- Horseback riding
- Nordic Walking
- Seated volleyball
- Swimming laps
- Water aerobics
- Wheeling oneself in wheelchair
“It is essential that we bring together adults with disabilities, health professionals and community leaders to address resource needs to increase physical activity for people with disabilities,” said Coleen Boyle, director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
+ Learn about the physical therapy programs at Bon Secours In Motion.
+ Read more about aquatic therapy, which can decrease spasms, inflammation and pain, increase patient endurance and strength and improve posture
Lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Weight loss. Smaller waistline. Those are just a few of the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables.
Now, researchers say people are less likely to have a stroke the more they eat these pieces of nature’s candy.
A new analysis of 20 studies conducted in Europe, Asia and the United States found that people lowered their stroke risk by 32 percent for every 200 grams of fruit they ate daily. The risk dropped by 11 percent for every 200 grams of vegetables they ate each day, according to the study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.
“Improving diet and lifestyle is critical for heart and stroke risk reduction in the general population,” said Dr. Yan Qu, the study’s senior author, director of the intensive care unit at Qingdao Municipal Hospital and professor at the Medical College of Qingdao University in Qingdao, China. “In particular, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is highly recommended because it meets micronutrient and macronutrient and fiber requirements without adding substantially to overall energy requirements.”
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It is also a leading cause of disability. Many people who have strokes often have problems with balance and falling. Health authorities designate May as American Stroke Month to raise awareness and to help prevent the disease.
Researchers combined the results of six studies from the U.S., eight from Europe and six from Asia. The studies demonstrated that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure, improve microvascular function, improve body mass index, waist circumference, cholesterol, inflammation and oxidative stress.
The American Heart Association recommends adults eat four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables daily, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. By eating a diet rich in a variety of colors and types, people are able to get important nutrients including vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. They are also low in saturated fat.
Source: American Heart Association
+ Learn how to choose healthy foods for you and your family through our nutrition programs at Bon Secours In Motion.
+ Read about the Bon Secours In Motion Vestibular Rehabilitation Program. Physical therapists can help clients improve their symptoms of dizziness while increasing mobility and balance. This rehabilitation helps to retrain the body when stroke, brain trauma, inner ear surgery or chronic disease like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s affects the vestibular system.
In response to an increasing number of young athletes tearing their anterior cruciate ligament, the nation’s leading group of pediatricians has issued a a report that recommends ways to prevent such injuries in the first place.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends specific types of physical training that can reduce the risk of ACL injury as much as 72 percent – especially in young women, a news release states.
The AAP suggests plyometric and strengthening exercises to reduce an athlete’s risk of becoming injured. The ACL is one of four ligaments that stabilizes the knee joint, according to the AAP. Not only does it protect the knee during jumps and pivots but also when a runner slows down.
“Neuromuscular training programs strengthen lower extremity muscles, improve core stability, and teach athletes how to avoid unsafe knee positions,” said Dr. Cynthia LaBella, lead author of the report and a member of the AAO Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness.
Girls are often at higher risk for an ACL injury because when they reach the age of 12 they do not usually develop more muscle power, said Dr. Timothy Hewett, co-author of the report. As pre-teens go into puberty, they grow taller and heavier, which increases the risk of injury, the news release states.
“After puberty, girls have a ‘machine motor mismatch,’ ” said Dr. Hewett. “In contrast, boys get even more powerful relative to their body size after their growth spurt. The good news is that we’ve shown that with neuromuscular training, we can boost the power of girls’ neuromuscular engine and reduce their risk of ACL injuries.”
Female athletes between 15 and 20 years old account for the largest number of ACL injuries, the release states. Among high school and college athletes, females have two to six times higher ACL injury rates than males in similar sports.
Once an athlete has an ACL tear, they can experience depression because it forces them away from their sport and its social network. “Athletes with ACL injury are up to 10 times more likely to develop early-onset degenerative knee osteoarthritis, which limits their ability to participate in sports and often leads to chronic pain and disability,” the news release states. “Research suggests half of patients with an ACL injury will develop degenerative knee osteoarthritis in 10 to 20 years.”
Although many doctors have deferred surgery until a child reaches skeletal maturity, sophisticated surgical techniques that avoid impacting the growth plate allow athletes to have surgery to stabilize the knee and return to their sport. ACL surgery is about 90 percent successful in restoring knee stability and patient satisfaction, the release states.
“In many cases, surgery plus rehabilitation can safely return the athlete back to sports in about nine months,” said Dr. William Hennrikus, co-author of the report.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
+ Learn about the Benefits of Arthroscopic ACL Reconstruction Surgery. Considered the “gold standard” for ACL injury, arthroscopic surgery allows surgeons to visualize injuries more clearly with minimal disruption to surrounding muscles and joints.
+ Will you be recovering at home from an orthopaedic surgery? Read about physical therapy programs at Bon Secours In Motion.
Massage therapy not only alleviates muscle soreness after exercise, but it also improves general blood flow – even for people who don’t work out.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have discovered that massage has benefits for people regardless of how much they exercise, researchers recently discovered. Their study, published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, shows that massage improved vascular function for more than three days, or 72 hours, according to a news release. In fact, people who have poor circulation or limited mobility may benefit the most from massage therapy.
“Our study validates the value of massage in exercise and injury, which has been previously recognized but based on minimal data,” said Nina Cherie Franklin, UIC postdoctoral fellow in physical therapy and first author of the study. “It also suggests the value of massage outside of the context of exercise.”
Researchers examined how much muscle soreness people felt after using a leg press machine. Half of the participants were given a Swedish leg massage after their exercise. Those who received the massage said they were no longer sore 90 minutes later. But those who did not have a massage reported being sore one day later.
Researchers also measured blood flow. They found that those who had massages had improved blood flow for three days. People who didn’t have a massage after the exercise had reduced blood flow after 90 minutes.
“We believe that massage is really changing physiology in a positive way,” Franklin said. “This is not just blood flow speeds – this is actually a vascular response.”
Massage therapy also helped the people in the study who did not exercise.
“The big surprise was the massage-only control group, who showed virtually identical levels of improvement in circulation as the exercise and massage group,” said Shane Phillips, UIC associate professor of physical therapy and principal investigator on the study. “The circulatory response was sustained for a number of days, which suggests that massage may be protective.”
For people who have limited mobility or those with impaired vascular function, further research may show that regular massage offers significant benefits, the author said.
Source: news release University of Illinois at Chicago
+ Learn more about Physical Therapy programs at Bon Secours In Motion.
+ Read more about how massage therapy can help patients with a variety of health concerns.
Patients who want to have the best results after having joint replacement surgery should try to shed any excess pounds they carry.
Although most patients who are overweight sincerely want to lose weight after joint replacement, research shows that an equal number of patients actually gain weight after hip or knee replacement. But those who were able to lose weight, fared the best, according to researchers from Hospital for Special Surgery. Not only did they see improvement in their joint function two years after surgery but also in their level of activity.
What’s uncertain is why some of the nearly 7,000 patients they followed tended to gain weight.
“Our findings represent the first report to present evidence that weight loss is associated with improved clinical outcomes, while weight gain is associated with inferior outcomes, although these results are really not surprising,” said Dr. Geoffrey Westrich, senior investigator and director of research, Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement at Hospital for Special Surgery.
The study looked at more than 3,000 knee replacement surgeries and nearly 3,900 hip replacement cases. The findings showed:
- Seventy-four percent of total knee replacement patients and 84 percent of total hip replacement patients did not demonstrate a change in BMI following surgery.
- Patients who underwent knee replacement were more likely to lose weight after surgery than those undergoing hip replacement.
- Patients who were obese prior to joint replacement were more likely to lose weight than those who were of normal weight or overweight, but not obese.
- Overweight or obese females undergoing joint replacement were more likely to lose weight than their male or normal weight counterparts.
- Patients with higher preoperative activity scores were more likely to maintain their weight than to gain or lose weight.
Researchers considered a number of other factors to see if they were associated with a change in weight, according to a news release from HSS. These factors included patient scores on preoperative surveys to assess pain, stiffness, and physical function; whether the patient was discharged to home or a rehabilitation facility; whether or not the patient smoked; and co-existing health problems such as diabetes, hypertension and depression. None of these factors had an effect on weight gain or loss after joint replacement.
Those who were able to lose weight after knee replacement surgery felt much better compared to those who stayed the same weight or gained. For knee and hip and replacement patients, gaining weight lead to more pain, less function and lower activity levels.
“Based on our findings, as physicians, we should convey to our patients the importance of maintaining good health and an appropriate weight, and we should help them in any way we can to achieve this goal,” Westrich said.
Source: Hospital for Special Surgery news release
+ Learn about physical therapy programs at Bon Secours In Motion Hampton Roads.
+ Discover the benefits of arthroscopic ACL Reconstruction Surgery.
Shoulder injuries are pretty common, particularly injuries with the rotator cuff, a group of four muscles and their corresponding tendons that make it possible to move the arm out away from the side of the body and rotate the shoulder. A recent study, published in The Bone and Joint Journal, was conducted to see if physical therapy without surgery could be as effective at treating rotator cuff injuries as physical therapy combined with surgery, and the results may surprise you.
When studying non-traumatic tears of the supraspinatus (one of the four muscles with corresponding tendons that make up the rotator cuff), researchers found that long-term outcomes were very similar between patients who only underwent physical therapy treatments and those who had PT in addition to surgery. The study lasted twelve months; by the end of the study, the PT-only patients were 87% satisfied with their outcomes compared to 96% and 96% in the treatment groups that had different surgeries combined with therapy.
This is good news if you’re hoping to avoid surgery due to cost, recovery time, or personal preference. Unless you have a severe, traumatic injury to the rotator cuff that would require surgical repair, non-surgical physical therapy treatment can achieve a similar result at a lower cost and without the initial downtime that a surgical procedure would require.
Visit any gym and you’re likely to hear about High Interval Intensity Training.
It’s the latest trend in fitness, promising fast results for people on a mission to meet their weight loss goals.
But before you jump into your first HIIT class, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is reminding people to approach this program – and all exercise – with safety in mind.
“The key to safe exercise is moderation,” said AAOS spokeswoman Dr. Letha Griffin. “Individuals shouldn’t be deterred from pushing their bodies to the limit because that’s how you build strength and endurance. However, pushing too far, too fast, leaves the body prone to traumatic injuries, such as sprains and even fractures.”
Dr. Griffin, who practices in Atlanta, said she treats patients for a variety of lower body injuries that are associated with extreme-types of exercise training workouts such as common knee injuries and tears to the patella tendon.
Easing into an exercise program appears even more relevant these days as the number of exercise-related injuries is climbing nationwide. In 2012, more than 939,700 Americans received medical treatment for hurting themselves while exercising – approximately 100,000 more people than in 2011, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
To reduce your risk for exercise-related injuries, the AAOS offers the following safety tips:
- Extreme workouts are not for beginners. Start with a program of moderate physical activity— perhaps 30 minutes a session. If 30 minutes is too much in the beginning, break it up into shorter intervals. For instance, walk for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes later in the day.
- Follow a schedule. Both new and experienced exercisers benefit from following a schedule. Set a weekly exercise schedule that includes days off – rest days. For example, you might exercise every other day, with 3 days off each week.
- Embark on a balanced fitness program. A program that incorporates cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility and balance training is preferable for optimal health and fitness. A balanced exercise program also will keep you from getting bored and lessen your chance for injury.
- Warm up first. Run in place for a few minutes, breathe slowly and deeply, or gently rehearse the motions of the exercise to follow. Warming up increases your heart and blood flow rates and loosens up other muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints.
- Stretch. Begin stretches slowly and carefully until reaching a point of muscle tension. Hold each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, and then slowly and carefully release it. Inhale before each stretch and exhale as you release. Do each stretch only once. Never stretch to the point of pain. Always maintain control.
- Use proper equipment. First, look for running or athletic shoes that provide good construction, shock absorption and foot stability. Also, make sure that there is a thumbnail’s width between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe. As 60 percent of a shoe’s shock absorption is lost after 250 to 500 miles of use, people who run up to 10 miles per week should consider replacing their shoes every 9 to 12 months. Also, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that allow you to move freely and easily release body heat. When exercising in cold weather, dress in removable layers.
- Take your time. During strength training, move through the full range of motion with each repetition. Breathe regularly to help lower your blood pressure and increase blood supply to the brain.
- Stay hydrated. Drink enough water to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Drink 1 pint of water 15 minutes before you start exercising and another pint after you cool down. Have a drink of water every 20 minutes or so while you exercise.
- Cool down. Make cooling down the final phase of your exercise routine. It should take twice as long as the warm up. Slow your motions and lessen the intensity of your movements for at least 10 minutes before you stop completely. This phase of a safe exercise program should conclude when your skin is dry and you have cooled down.
Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons news release
+ Learn about physical therapy programs at Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy and Sports Performance.
+ Have you ever heard the saying fitness begins in the kitchen? Learn how to choose the right foods for your body with the Bon Secours nutritional analysis program.