Monthly archive for April 2011

Is Your Child’s Backpack Making the Grade?

While a backpack is still one of the best ways to tote homework, an overloaded or improperly worn backpack gets a failing grade, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Improper backpack use can cause injury, especially to children with young, growing muscles and joints. A study led by APTA member Shelley Goodgold, PT, associate professor of physical therapy at Simmons College in Boston, found that 55 percent of the children surveyed carried backpack loads heavier than 15 percent of their body weight, the maximum safe weight for children recommended by most experts.

Northern Physical Therapy tips to help aid this growing issue are:

• Wear both straps
Use of one strap causes one side of the body to bear the weight of the backpack.
By wearing two shoulder straps, the weight of the backpack is better distributed.

• Wear the backpack over the strongest mid-back muscles
Pay close attention to the way the backpack is positioned on the back. It should rest evenly in the middle of the back. Shoulder straps should be adjusted to allow the child to put on and take off the backpack without difficulty and allow free movement of the arms. Straps should not be too loose, and the backpack should not extend below the low back.

• Lighten the load
Keep the load at 10-15% or less of the child’s bodyweight. Carry only those items that are required for the day. Organize the contents of the backpack by placing the heaviest items closest to the back. Some students have two sets of books so as not to have to carry the heavy books to and from school.


How Northern Physical Therapy Can Help


A physical therapist can help you choose a proper backpack and fit it specifically to your child. Children come in all shapes and sizes, and some have physical limitations that require special adaptations.

Additionally, a physical therapist can help improve posture problems, correct muscle imbalances, and treat pain that can result from improper backpack use.  Physical therapists can also design individualized fitness programs to help children get strong and stay strong—and carry their own loads!

Stop by any of our five clinics to get your child fitted properly for their backpack. It only takes a few minutes, and its free.

Gina Otterbein Recognized as Athena Nominee

Gina Otterbein, our co-owner and physical therapist, is among the 25 nominees for the 2011 Lakeshore Athena Award, which is presented annually to recognize women who demonstrate excellence and creativity in their profession, devote time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in their community, and actively support women in realizing and achieving their full leadership. Here, Gina is pictured with Carrie Borchers (fellow Athena nominee), and Andrea Snyder (who nominated both women for the award), at the awards reception.

Gina is a Coopersville resident, physical therapist, and co-owner of Northern Physical Therapy. She believes in giving back to her community and does so by volunteering her time with the Rotary Club of Coopersville, St. Michael’s Church, the Coopersville Chamber of Commerce, and is the Event Chair for the Del Shannon Car Show. She also sits on committees for both the Michigan Physical Therapy Association and the American Physical Therapy Association.

Gina stated: Women today wear many hats, maintaining duties as business leaders, organizational leaders, mothers, mentors, coaches and friends…. all of which can be overwhelming at times. I try to help other women learn how to handle the balance of all these terrific roles.

As noted by both the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce officials, the Athena Award program is not a competition, but rather a celebration of excellence where the honor of the award is in the nomination.

Gina is pictured at the awards luncheon with Gary Lutz of IT Resource, Andrea Snyder of STUDIO3TWENTY, and Carrie Borchers of IT Resource.

Happy National Physical Therapy Month!

October is an exciting time for us here at NPT. It serves as our opportunity to remind you that we are your trusted experts in restoring and improving motion. Our goal is to improve your quality of life by helping you to stay healthy, fit, and active while avoiding surgery and long-term use of prescription medications.

As you make the important decisions about health care for you or your family, it is important to remember the goals of physical therapy:

1. Improve mobility to perform daily activities.
2. Offer an alternative to painful and expensive surgery, in many cases.
3. Manage or eliminate pain without medication and its side effects, in many cases.

When it comes to healthcare, one size does not fit all. A physical therapist’s extensive education, clinical expertise, and “hands on” approach bring you a unique, individualized experience. When you are in the hands of a physical therapist, you have a plan of care that is safe and appropriate while addressing your individual needs and pre-existing conditions.

Do you know someone who might benefit from physical therapy? Please consider sharing with them your experience at NPT and how it has impacted your quality of life. Thank you!