We're Talking Senior Health and Driving on WZZM and My West Michigan

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
We all have parents, grandparents or friends that we care deeply for and we want to see them living a long and healthy life. As therapists we can have a positive impact in this stage of life. Gina and Lyn were recently invited to the My West Michigan studios at WZZM to talk about this very topic.

We had the opportunity to chat with Catherine Behrendt about how changes in our physical and mental capacities effect our driving skills as we age. Our DriveFit driver assessment program is done in the clinic to help older adults stay on the road as long as possible, in the safest manner.

We talked about warning signs, equipment that can be used to assist older drivers, and how we can help. Watch the segment in its entirety here. 

If you have questions on DriveFit, or warning signs when it comes to a loved one and their driving habits, contact us at the clinic nearest you. You can also check out our other WZZM segment on athletes and concussions here.

4 Types of Exercise for Best Results

Monday, November 16, 2015
What if we could give you a pill that would prevent or delay heart disease/stroke, some cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis, low back pain, high blood pressure, and balance problems/falls? This pill could also manage stress, improve your mood, reduce feelings of depression, improve your ability to think more clearly, and improve your energy level. Most would agree that this is quite the little “wonder pill”. But guess what, you can have all those benefits and more and the answer is right at your fingertips.  

Physical activity, friends. That's all it takes and it will make a world of difference. These tips are universal in encouraging everyone to do some additional fitness practices at home; simply modify the intensity based on your physical level. These practices are ideal for older adults as well because the physical and mental decline that we may associate with advancing age, may actually be a direct result of decreasing physical activity level. When older people lose their ability to do things, it's usually because they're not physically active.

How much exercise is needed for health benefits?
Ideally, you want to section your activity into 4 different types to get all the benefits.
- Endurance
- Strength
- Balance
- Flexibility

Aim for 30 minutes of continuous activity, or 10 minutes 3x daily. Try walking, swimming, biking, or even dancing. If you can talk without any trouble as you walk you aren't working hard enough, and if you can’t talk at all, you're exercising too hard. But always remember that some activity is better than none.

We're not talking about weightlifting here. But, when you have an adequate amount of strength you can do so many daily activities without stress. You can get up from a chair more easily, lift grandchildren or groceries, takes walks and wake up in the morning without those nagging aches and pains. Strength helps prevent falls in older adults too, which can cause problems like broken hips. 

Some simple strength exercises include:
- Bicep curls with a canned good or light hand weight
- Squats at the kitchen counter, hold on for added stability

There are a few simple things you can do to strengthen your balance skills. Try standing on one foot, then the other at the kitchen counter. Practice getting up from a chair without using your hands or arms. Try walking heel to toe, or sideways.

Moving more freely is beneficial for everyone. Who wouldn't like to bend over without those minor (or major) aches and pains? The most obvious benefit of stretching is the ability to improve flexibility and range of motion. As we age our muscles can become tighter and the range of motion in our joints can be minimized. When you lack flexibility your body becomes slower and moving is more difficult (and uncomfortable). This can lead to muscle strains or injury, but it also limits what you can do on a daily basis.

Start with light stretches and remember to always stretch after you've warmed your muscles up, and don’t stretch to the point that it hurts.
- Practice touching your toes
- Pull your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together
- Stand tall with your arms up in the air and slowly bend from side to side

Always remember, with any exercise program you want to start out at a low level of effort and work up slowly. "Low and slow" is the way to go. Exercise should never cause pain so if you do feel any intense discomfort, you need to slow down, stop, or consult a professional. We offer exercise programs designed to help people at any and all fitness levels. If you'd like to get started, give us a call today.

Sports Related Concussions :: A Follow Up Report

Thursday, October 29, 2015
In a recent interview with WZZM and My West Michigan we talked about concussions amongst students and athletes. Topics included what to look for and how we treat the issues. This was timely with fall sports starting up - most people tend to think of football when they hear about student concussions, but a recent study shed some light on this topic and the results might surprise you.

A new study of 5 years' worth of concussion data from NCAA sports reveals that men's wrestling is the sport with the highest rate of sports-related concussion (SRC), but men's football remains on top in terms of the sheer number of athletes who experience SRC while in practice or competition. And in men's and women's sports that can be directly compared—lacrosse, ice hockey, soccer, and others—female athletes tend to have higher rates of SRC than their male counterparts.

Top 5 Sports Per 10,000 Athlete Exposures
1. Men's Wrestling
2. Men's Ice Hockey
3. Women's Ice Hockey
4. Men's Football 
5. Women's Soccer

Annual Numbers of Sports-Related Concussions by Sport
1. Men's Football
2. Women's Soccer
3. Women's Basketball
4. Men's Basketball
5. Men's Wrestling

Consussions can happen any place, at any time - not just to students during sporting events. The kids might be horsing around at home, dad might take a tumble on the ski slopes, mom might slip on the ice. We see patients with concussions all the time, but the key is to get help right away so we can monitor the patient and administer the necessary care. If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact the office nearest you.

Senior Fitness with eightWest and WOOD TV

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
It’s never too late to get fit
Exercise is good for everybody, but it becomes even more important as we age. An appropriate amount of physical activity is essential for seniors to help maintain physical and mental health. At Northern we treat older adults who have an injury or condition, or who want to work on an exercise program. At any age, exercise and physical activity can be a “wonder pill.” It can prevent or delay heart disease/stroke, some cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis, low back pain, high blood pressure, and balance problems/falls. But exercise is not just good for you physically, its great for you mentally as well. Exercise and physical activity can also manage stress, improve your mood, reduce feelings of depression, improve your ability to think more clearly, and improve your energy levels.

Our very own Gina Otterbein and Julie Blodgett stopped by the studios of WOOD TV's eightWest to talk with Rachael Ruiz about this very topic.

Rachael Ruiz, Julie Blodgett, and Gina Otterbein

Gina and Julie demonstrated simple exercises that people can do at home, based on the 4 categories of exercise that we should all follow: endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance.

You can see the segment in its entirety at the link below.

If you missed any of our previous eightWest segments, you can see us talk about healthy kids and teens, proper form when running and stretching, women's health, and direct access to physical therapy in Michigan.

From the Couch to a 5k :: Race On

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Just 12 months ago I never imagined I’d be able to run a 5k, even though it was something I had always wanted to do. I’m 55 years old and was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis. I’ve tried a few couch to 5k programs in the past, but without the accountability of others I never fully completed any of them. When I was introduced to Northern Physical Therapy’s RunFit program and saw the opportunity to train with a group, I signed up. Nothing to lose, right?

After a few hard weeks, I’m happy to say that I completed the entire RunFit program. The group was fun and they gave me the encouragement to keep going. The morning of our 5k I was so nervous, “could I really do this?” I wondered. My goal was to run the entire race without walking, and I did it! Running across the finish line was an exhilarating feeling, not only had I finished, but I came in several minutes under my goal.

Running the race was hard work but whenever I felt like slowing down I thought about my younger sister who was having several health issues. I told myself that after everything she has had to endure, I could do this.

Gina Otterbein and Marcia ran the Katty Shack 5k together in 2015.

Its been just a few months since my first 5k and I’m thrilled to say I have since completed 2 more. I’ve set a goal for myself of running one 5k race each month. I love supporting great causes through the races, and I’m seeing the benefits of my continued workouts, which include yoga, and of course, running. I plan to continue my routine with the hopes that I’ll be healthier in my golden years, and be able to keep up with my energetic grandkids.

I found that by setting a goal and being persistent, it is possible to do anything!

Feeling Good :: A Knee Injury and Physical Therapy

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
As any business owner knows, its a wonderful feeling when you receive praise from your customers, clients, and patients. Over the last year we've had the privilege of treating a great guy. When Officer Scott Drumm of the Kentwood Police Department suffered a knee injury at work, he chose Northern for his treatment. We were humbled and delighted when we received a letter from him in the mail expressing his gratitude for our organization. We'll let Scott share his story from here.

-- -- --

Upon injuring my knee at work I chose to have my therapy treatment done at Northern Physical Therapy in Wayland. I was able to use Northern to prepare for surgery and work through a program that my physical therapist, Matt Casterline, and my doctor, Dr. Kyle Randall, set up to ease my recovery time post surgery. After surgery, Matt placed me on a plan to get me back to feeling 100%. The road was long and painful, but was made easier with Matt's hard work.

Matt treated me with the best care and advice and I really owe it to him for getting me back to work in such great shape. With all of my ups and downs through my recovery, he took each hurdle I gave him and worked through it with a smile. 

Since I had been coming to Northern two to five days a week for nine months and I had witnessed nothing but a professional and caring staff. The days I was unable to work with Matt, due to schedules, I had the opportunity to work with Susan McCourt and Erin Willett and together, we didn't miss a beat - every hour was just as productive as the last. With all of the time I spent at Northern, I got to see a lot of different interactions with your patients by your staff and I've been very impressed. As you know, the majority of your patients are elderly and many have special needs. There was not a single time that I noticed your staff not treat them with the utmost respect and care. Needless to say, I'm very impressed and would feel very comfortable to have my own grandparents attend your facility.

Cassie Andersen and Bridget Martz were also very impressive. The care they took to make sure the physical therapists could concentrate on their patients and work in a very clean environment was very important to me. When I would have problems with my schedule, they made it very easy to make changes and work out a solution. I also witnessed them on numerous occasions drop everything they were doing to help a therapist with a client. What a great team effort!

I want to thank you for hiring such great staff and running a class act organization.
Respectfully yours,
Officer Scott Drumm
City of Kentwood
-- -- --

Thank you Scott, for taking the time to share your story with us, and with others. We appreciate your genuine gratitude for our business, and that you chose Northern as your provider of choice. It was truly a pleasure to help you!

Save Time and Money With E-Statements

Friday, October 23, 2015
Simplify the time spent paying bills and looking up receipts by signing up for e-statements. Here are just a few of the benefits:
1. It’s FREE for Northern Physical Therapy patients, and who doesn't love free? Plus, it saves you money to spend on more important things!
2. It's easier for patients to pay their bill(s) online, although you don’t have to be enrolled to pay your bill online in order to receive e-statements. If you would like to pay your bill online, click here.
3. You will receive your statements faster, rather than waiting on the USPS mail system.

Enrollment is Easy
1. Visit www.patientnotebook.com to register.
2. Enter your Statement ID#, which is found under the Northern Physical Therapy address near the top left corner of your statement.
3. Enter your patient account number, which is found near the upper right corner of your statement.

If you have any questions, call our clinic and we'll be happy to get your e-statements set up.

Has Your Insurance Deductible Been Met

Thursday, October 22, 2015
As we near the end of 2015, many people will be in a situation where their insurance deductibles have already been met for the year, meaning the insurance company will typically pay 100% of your medical costs. So how does this effect you when it comes to those nagging aches and pains?

Maybe you've been having a pinching sensation in your elbow whenever you lift something, or maybe your back pain is flaring up more frequently than it used to. Perhaps you feel pain in your shins every time you run farther than 2 miles. These are all issues that physical therapy can help with, and now is the time to stop in and get those aches resolved.

Some insurance companies have limits on physical therapy visits, but oftentimes your treatment may just consist of a few visits. If your deductible has already been met your cost for therapy services may be significantly reduced or covered 100%, depending on your individual plan. So now is the perfect time to give physical therapy a try! And, because the Direct Access law was passed in Michigan this year, you can now come right to physical therapy without a referral from your physician. 

Don't wait another day in pain, get started on a physical therapy plan today and start 2016 off by feeling great!

No More Excuses :: Its Time to Get Moving

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Why didn't you exercise today, can you think of a few excuses? Too tired, too busy, too self conscious…we've heard them all. Today we're here to prove each one of those excuses wrong. How many can you relate to?

I'm too tired
Get some extra sleep, and remember that working out can make you feel alive and refreshed. Its often just what you need to combat those tired feelings.

I'm too busy
Between work, school, kids, errands, and life in general, we're all busy. Schedule your workouts into your day just like any other appointment. When you write it in your calendar you're much more likely to get it done. 

I feel silly in group exercise settings
Trust us, you're not the only one. But you know what, you're there and that's more than most people can say. You can also work out at home to get started. Grab some weights and put in a DVD or go for a run. Who cares what you look like, get out there and get moving. You'll feel so much better when you're done. 

I don't have the time during the day

Take a look at your day and see where it logically fits. You only need 30 minutes to get a great workout in. Get up a little earlier, go out on your lunch break, take a quick half hour after the kids go to bed. There is time to get moving.

It's too expensive
Sometimes gym memberships don't fit into the budget, but going out for a run is free. Use soup cans as weights and find a workout video on YouTube. There are so many free workout options, cost should never be a stall factor.

I just don't feel like it
Great workouts not only have a positive effect on you physically, but they do wonders mentally as well. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief because exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms of depression.

I'm not feeling the effects
Weight loss and muscle toning doesn't happen overnight. Try setting a goal for yourself. Maybe you want to run a 5k in the next 3 months, or maybe you want to double the amount you can lift. Give yourself a goal to work towards and once you reach it you'll be able to see the difference, and you'll feel pretty good about yourself. 

Next time you decide you can't work out, ask yourself why. Until complaining can burn calories, the only other option we've got is to just get out there and do it. If you have questions on how to get started, or want to sign up for a fitness class or personal training program, contact the clinic nearest you and we'd be glad to help.

Yaktrax Reduce Your Chances of Injury and Slipping on the Ice

Monday, October 19, 2015
Because we live in a 4 season state, we spend a good deal of time outdoors in the winter. Athletes, construction crews, public service workers, soldiers, outdoorsmen, and many more walk, run and work on packed snow and ice. Whether you're walking your dog, running a marathon, or taking on the slopes, you don't want to be down and out because of a slip in snowy conditions.

Many of our physical therapists have been using Yaktrax for years. In the winter, we find them to be a necessity to reduce the risk of slips and falls, and its not just the runners who use these. We encourage many of our older patients to give them a try if they worry about making it across icy parking lots or driveways. 

Yaktrax Pro Now Available
Because we so strongly believe in this product we've become a reseller so you can purchase them right from our clinic. We've selected the Yaktrax Pro because of it's instant ability give you better traction, confidence and safety on packed snow or ice. Walk, run, or work on slick surfaces with the same stability you're accustomed to on dry surfaces. Don't let the winter weather put a damper on your outdoor activities or athletic training.

The Yaktrax Pro is available for $30, which is the same price you'll pay at the big box stores, only you don't have to drive to get them - we're close to home.

Yaktrax Pro Benefits
- Get out and be active on snowy days, knowing you have reduced your chances of falling 
- You can use these on shoes that don't have a lot of traction
- Reduce risk of slipping/falls even on compact snow and solid ice during outdoor winter activity
- They don't significantly change gait/running mechanics on outdoor surfaces
- They are interchangeable between all your shoes and boots
- Easily removed when you go indoors
- Keeps older adults safe and gives them confidence when walking in the winter

Call or visit the Northern Physical Therapy clinic nearest you to get your Yaktrax today!