Talking About Womens Health with eightWest

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
WOOD TV's eightWest welcomed us back once again and this time around we talked about women's health. 

Imagine you’re out with your girlfriends having a great time, enjoying a glass of wine, you get to laughing, when “oops, I think I just peed a little!” Laughter can quickly turn to embarrassment when its accompanied by a little urinary leakage.

It may have started happening after you had your baby, as you got older, or after surgery. But the important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Urinary incontinence affects millions of women of all ages, not just the elderly. Its an embarrassing topic to talk about, but there is a solution and the sooner you can get it looked at, the better your chances of making a full recovery.

Keeping these issues to yourself because you’re embarrassed or because you think it’s normal is really only doing more harm. Its not uncommon for women to have leakage after childbirth, with sporting activities, or as we age; however this is something that shouldn’t be labelled as normal.

Check out our full interview with WOOD TV, and eightWest and Rachael Ruiz below, and if you have any questions on women's health, bladder issues, or incontinence, give us a call at 616.997.6172.

See our previous eightWest segment with Jordan Carson where we talked about direct access and how it effects healthcare and physical therapy in Michigan.

Direct Access to PT is Now Available in Michigan

Monday, July 14, 2014
This article was originally published in the July 14, 2014 edition of the Coopersville Observer

Lower health care costs and a faster road to relief are finally in sight for Michigan residents. In early July the Direct Consumer Access Bill was passed after 34 years in the making. The bill allows consumers the option of seeking treatment directly from a physical therapist without having to gain a referral from their physician first.

“This is a huge day for patients and physical therapists alike,” said Gina Otterbein, a Physical Therapist and co-owner of Northern Physical Therapy, with offices located in Coopersville, Cedar Springs, Wayland, Grant, and Sparta. “Michigan is the last of the 50 states to pass this type of bill, now people in Michigan have the choice to go directly to a physical therapist which provides faster access, results and ultimately lower health care costs.” Otterbein notes that physicians (and physician assistants) will continue to refer to PT especially after surgeries or severe injuries, but now there is the option to see a PT directly for issues such as a sports injury, back flare up, knee pain or shoulder stiffness. The physical therapists will assess the client’s problem and develop a plan of exercise, manual therapy, education and other PT treatment to get the client back to life quickly and safely.

The bill, which was signed by Governor Rick Snyder was previously passed by the House of Representatives in June and by the Senate in May. It will officially go into effect on January 1, 2015 and will grant patients the opportunity to visit a physical therapist up to 10 times. Many Coopersville residents, along with Northern Physical Therapy supported this bill, “We appreciate everyone who supported this bill, both our community members and our legislators” said Otterbein. Northern shared information about the bill's progress through social and electronic media and the community responded. “It was truly amazing!”

Because the Michigan Physical Therapy Association (MPTA) has been working on the Direct Access plan for 34 years, they’ve seen many states ahead of them who have experienced significant advantages from the direct access route. Other states have shown a correlation between direct access and lower health care costs, faster recovery times, and a more positive relationships between the patient and the health care providers.

If you would like additional information on the Direct Consumer Access Bill, contact Gina Otterbein at 616-997-6172.

Michigan Stands Alone : SB690 Say Yes to Direct Access

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
We're asking for a big favor today, and it will greatly benefit both of us. Michigan is the only state that requires you to have a prescription to seek physical therapy, but with your help that could change.

We're generating a grassroots effort to get SB690 Say Yes to Direct Access passed. If you've already submitted your support to your local representative, thank you so much! Direct Consumer Access to Physical Therapy in Michigan means you get the freedom to seek physical therapy evaluation and treatment without a prescription from your doctor.

Please consider contacting your local representative to show your support by sending them an email at

We greatly appreciate your support!
Gina Otterbein, Janis Kemper,
& your friends at Northern PT

West Michigan Woman Welcomes Northern Yet Again

Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Gina and Janis have become regular contributors at West Michigan Woman, both in their print and online publications. They've taken this opportunity to educate readers on various topic of interest and things they commonly see in the clinics.
Most recently, they discussed balance and falls and how those symptoms can affect us as we age.

Seeing our loved ones age can be a difficult process. We want what’s best for our parents and grandparents, and as their health changes it’s not uncommon to worry about their safety. A serious side effect that we, as physical therapists, often see with aging is the increased risk of falling and loss of balance.
Read the article in its entirety here.
In addition to the balance and falls article, you may have also seen their article on back pain. Back pain is one of the most common issues that patients face, but the goods news is, you don't have to live with pain.

We often get patients in the clinic who explain their back pain, along with a lengthy description of the different treatments, surgeries, and medications they’ve encountered along the way. “Nothing worked. I’m hoping you can help me,” they say. Physical therapy is a safe alternative to surgery and medication, and it can help you live pain-free: Our goal is not just to mask the pain, but to find the cause and treat it.
Read the article in its entirety here.

And finally, Gina and Janis spent some time this summer discussing whether to heat or ice an injury. There is often confusion as to which method is better for your injury.

One of the most common questions we get is whether to use heat or ice for an injury. Both are beneficial when used properly, but the best option depends on what type of injury you’ve incurred.
Read the entire article here.
Gina and Janis enjoy the opportunity to educate people on proper body mechanics and practices. They always remind people that you don't have to live with pain.

Know the Truth: Understanding Medicare’s Therapy Caps

Monday, September 09, 2013
If you have Medicare, you may have heard recently more about the limitations or “caps” they place on certain treatments, including physical therapy. Just like other insurances, Medicare (the red, white and blue card) places limits on their coverage and “caps” the amount it will pay for outpatient physical and occupational therapy in a calendar year. The good news is that there are exceptions that allow Medicare patients to continue skilled therapies when they are medically necessary, and we can help easily navigate through the process.
There are two “caps” that require an exception. When services are necessary but reach $1900 there is a process that your therapist will automatically complete, which does not slow down your care as a patient, and allows you to continue treatment. The second cap is $3700. If your therapy is still medically necessary, we will do paper work and ask for pre-approval from your physician and Medicare to continue. It’s important to note that we have found very few patients at Northern ever get to the second cap with therapy services in one year. Our physical therapists and billing team are aware of these financial limitations and can apply for an exception if your continued care is medically necessary. We will explain how Medicare defines “medically necessary” and how it applies to your condition and treatment.

What about Medicare Advantage plans like Priority Health, BCBS Medicare, or others? These Medicare Advantage plans may apply the cap as well, however, some plans have chosen not to follow this Medicare rule. At Northern we always check with your insurance plan and let you, and our therapists, know of the current payment policies for your particular insurance.
If you still have questions about your coverage, simply call our insurance benefits specialist at 616.259.5674 or email us at We will be more than happy to walk through your personal coverage and answer your billing questions.

Would you like to see this “cap” go away? Make your voice heard. Medicare beneficiaries can ask their members of Congress to repeal the therapy cap by going to the American Physical Therapy Association's Patient Legislative Action Center.

Summer Fun Without the Pain

Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Gina and Janis have once again contributed to West Michigan Woman and this time they're writing about working and relaxing pain free.
After what seemed like a terribly long winter, many of us wasted no time heading outside to fix up the yard and soak up some sun, once warmer weather finally hit. While it certainly feels good to be doing projects outdoors, it’s important to remember how to do these tasks properly, so your body doesn’t pay for it later. How many times have you overexerted yourself doing yard work, only to wake up the next day with back pain and sore muscles?

As a physical therapist and expert in body mechanics, I see many patients come in with sprains and back pain, due to overextending themselves while doing outdoor activities. In an effort to eliminate some of that pain, I put together a list of simple tips to help you avoid injury this season.

While doing active tasks such as gardening and yard work, you’ll want to remember to stretch and maintain a healthy body position.
- Avoid strain on your hands by periodically spreading your fingers wide, then make a fist. Repeat.
- Reduce stress on your wrists by rotating them in one direction, then repeat in the opposite direction.
- Use a stool or knee pads to protect your knees and hips.
- Avoid putting constant stress one part of the body by varying tasks: Rake for a while, then bag for a while.
- When lifting, keep objects close to your body, keep a straight spine, and lift with your legs, not your back.

After the work is done, you’ll want to stop to relax. But keep these tips in mind:
- Lawn chairs can be hard on your back, so get up and walk around every thirty minutes.
- Find a chair that supports your back and fits your size. Avoid staying in one position for more than twenty minutes.

Summer is a great time to be active, but always remember, if you begin to experience discomfort in a muscle or joint, stop and rest. If you are experiencing persistent pain, a physical therapist could often help to relieve pain and educate you on proper body mechanics to avoid injury in the future.

McKenzie Certified: Treating Back Pain

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Congratulations to our very own Diana Painter who has received her certification in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy, which means she is now certified in the McKenzie method of treating for the spine and extremity.
To acquire the certification, Diana had to complete extensive course work involving the mechanical diagnosis and treatment of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine as well as the extremities. In addition, she was required to complete a five part written exam and practical performance simulation.

Diana says she loves working with patients of all ages and diagnoses, but her interests in spine pain led her to obtain this particular certification. She feels the McKenzie method is a great tool for assessing and treating patients with back pain.

Way to go, Diana!

Gina & Janis Contribute to West Michigan Woman

Friday, March 22, 2013
NPT co-owners and physical therapists Gina Otterbein and Janis Kemper have once again been asked to contribute to West Michigan Woman Magazine, a local magazine and online publication. 
Burning Calories Can Be Easy
West Michigan Woman, March 2013

 Still battling with extra weight gained over the holidays? It seems as though the last few pounds are the hardest to shed. But losing the weight is easier than you think, when you turn simple office tasks or household chores into opportunities to burn calories....

You can read the article in its entirety here.

Read Janis and Gina's previous West Michigan Woman articles on postpartum exercise and strengthening your core (pages 20-21).

Strengthening Your Core

Thursday, February 14, 2013
Flip through the pages of this month's West Michigan Woman and you'll notice two familiar contributors.

Our two co-owners and physical therapists, Janis Kemper and Gina Otterbein, contributed once again to West Michigan Woman, a local magazine and online publication. They wrote a great piece on strengthening your core which featured some corresponding exercises.

Stop the "Crunches" and Train Your Core
West Michigan Woman, February 2013

How many times have you started the year off with good intentions of following through with a resolution to lose weight, get in shape, or be more active? We’ve all been there with the best of intentions, but once February rolls around, that resolution is long gone. Many of us lose the time and ambition, or find that working out can be quite painful.

You can read the article in its entirety here, see pages 20-21. And to check out Janis and Gina's last article on postpartum pregnancy exercises, click here.

Gina & Janis Write for West Michigan Woman Magazine

Monday, November 12, 2012
Gina and Janis were thrilled at the opportunity to be able to contribute to the local West Michigan Woman Magazine this month. Their article on postpartum exercise was featured in the publication's Wellness section. 
"Becoming a mother is one of the most incredible experiences a woman will face throughout her life. With all the excitement that comes with being pregnant and caring for a newborn, it’s important to remember that exercise will help your body in tremendous ways. Not only is the rate of back pain, pelvic pain, and other discomfort lower for women who exercise regularly throughout their pregnancy, but recovery times and weight loss are greatly effected by postpartum exercise as well."

You can read the article in it's entirety here.