An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

Susie Kluting has used a wheelchair or crutches to get around her entire life, but one could argue that she’s equally comfortable on the ice. Despite being born with spina bifida, 26 year old Coopersville resident Susie has never let that get in her way. Susie has tried wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball, swimming, fencing, water skiing, and rock climbing. While she’s always enjoyed being active, she longed for a sport that would really speak to her – that’s where sled hockey came in.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in CheckSpina bifida left Susie with limited use of her legs, but she never let her “different ability” get her down. The second youngest of six children, Susie grew up on a farm and inherited a love for animals and cheering on her siblings at their various sporting events. While she loved the years she spent showing rabbits through 4-H, riding four-wheelers with her brothers, and farm life in general, she wanted to find something new that she could do with people who were “more like her.”

At a young age Susie began trying a variety of different clinics and playing sports through Mary Free Bed. Although she tried many different sports and continued to attend sports camp every summer until she was 18, Sled Hockey is the one she excels in.

Sled hockey was invented in the early 1960s by a group of Swedes at a rehabilitation center who, despite their physical disabilities, wanted to continue playing hockey. Sled hockey follows most standard ice hockey rules, except players sit in specially designed sleds that sit on top of two hockey skate blades. Each player has two sticks which are used to hit the puck and to propel themselves.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

Northern Physical Therapy has been a big part of my recovery from all sports injuries, and they’ve helped tremendously in allowing me to maintain my ability for the past 8 years. I love the team at Northern! They’re so helpful, friendly and always happy to answer any questions I have. Northern PT has helped my independence as a young adult and made it possible for me to do daily tasks at home, take care of myself, enjoy activities with my family, and compete in team sports – for this I am so grateful. – Susie Kluting, physical therapy patient living with spina bifida

For the last six years Susie has been the Assistant Captain for the adult Grand Rapids Sled Wings, which was formed because of the high level of interest from players who were over 18, which is the age limit for the junior league. She has also been a part of the U.S.A women’s sled hockey team. Susie can even thank sled hockey for introducing her to her boyfriend Connor. They met in 2010 at a sled hockey camp in Rochester, N.Y. and have been dating since 2017.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in CheckBecause Susie is living a majority of her life in a wheelchair, and is also someone who is very active, she understands that injury is always a possibility. To keep her game in check, and to maintain her level of daily activity, Susie regularly receives physical therapy treatments, even during her off season.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in CheckHow can physical therapy help With spina bifida?
Physical therapy plays an important role in helping children and adults with spina bifida gain and maintain mobility, and function at their best throughout all stages of life. Spina bifida is a birth defect involving the spine that occurs when a baby’s “neural tube,” or fetal spinal cord, does not completely close in the early stages of development during the first month of a mother’s pregnancy.

Spina bifida may cause both physical and intellectual disabilities that range from mild to severe, depending on the size and location of the opening in the spine, and the extent to which the spinal cord and nerves are affected. Babies born with spina bifida often cannot move their legs due to weakness or paralysis resulting from spinal cord and nerve damage.

People living with spina bifida can experience partial or complete paralysis and may need assistive devices like braces, wheelchairs, or crutches. These people work with physical therapists to learn specific muscle strengthening exercises.

We can help
A spina bifida diagnosis can leave parents with many questions and concerns. If you’ve wondered how physical therapy can help you or your child, schedule a free consultation with one of our therapists. We’ll conduct an evaluation and talk about the different treatment opportunities available.

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An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

As a parent, it’s tough to watch your student athlete get benched due to an injury. They want nothing more than to get out there and play, and you love to cheer them on. As a new season approaches and we start gearing up for spring sports, it tends to be a busy time of year. More physical activity, more training, more equipment, and more parent taxis taking kids to practice.

Along with those weekend games and after school practices, we see a lot more injuries. More often than not, injuries tend to go unnoticed (or unmentioned by your child) and eventually lead to worsening conditions. These are sometimes referred to as musculoskeletal injuries, usually caused by trauma or overuse. Understanding these possible injuries and their signs is the first step to keeping your child safe, and on the field.

Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

Coopersville Athletic Trainer Mackenzie Delgado is pictured with the girls volleyball team.

“One of my soccer players injured her ankle playing basketball and it wasn’t healing on its own as quickly as we had hoped. I knew if she didn’t get in for physical therapy that she’d certainly be benched once soccer started. Within a few therapy sessions her ankle began showing significant signs of improvement. At this rate, I’m certain she’ll be ready once soccer practice starts.” Mackenzie Delgado, Coopersville Public Schools Athletic Trainer

Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

Here are some signs of young athlete injuries for parents to watch out for:

  • Overuse Injury
    Watch for gradual pain, stiffness, aching, visible swelling, and tenderness. Our Functional Movement Screens identify the weak link and correct it by looking at fundamental movement patterns, which are the foundation for proper fitness and performance.
  • ACL Injuries
    Watch for popping sounds, immediate pain/weakness, and loss of motion. Our sports rehab specialists will help your student athlete heal faster and regain strength so they can get back in the game.
  • Sprains
    Watch for general pain, swelling, warmth, bruising, redness, and impaired movement. Our complimentary injury screenings are a great way to talk to a physical therapist, free of charge, to find out what’s causing the issue and the next best steps. Whether it’s a sprain, a twist, or just general pain, we’re here to help. Rather than doing research online and attempting to self-diagnose, come in and talk with a licensed physical therapist who can explain what’s going on and get your young athlete back in the game with the proper treatment.
  • Concussion
    Watch for headaches, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, and blurry vision. Because no two concussions are the same, our exam is essential to assess your child’s individual symptoms and limitations. We’ll then design a treatment program especially for you.

Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

Talk to your kids
It’s important to be as open with your kids as possible. Make it a point to teach them about playing smart and to encourage proper warm-up procedures. By opening the door, children are more likely to talk about their pain without fearing the possible repercussions of sitting out. Be sure to follow up with any major falls and blunt force blows to the body. Regular pre-participation physicals are also vital for sports season and renewed confidence of your child’s wellbeing.

“My son was experiencing unexplained elbow pain and we were worried that it would affect his game. The school’s athletic trainer, Tyler DeBrot, recommended we give physical therapy a try. After just a few treatment sessions the elbow pain was gone and my son’s game was back to normal. Undergoing physical therapy treatment got him back on the court faster – I’m so glad we gave PT a try!” – Grant Parent

Our team of sports rehab experts and athletic trainers are here for your family, at every stage in the game. Young athlete injuries are often easily treated, especially when caught early on. If your child is experiencing any kind of pain, schedule a free consultation to talk with a physical therapist. Because Michigan is a Direct Access state, you don’t need a referral from your physician prior to seeking physical therapy treatment. Contact us with any questions you have, we’re happy to help!

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Injuries In Young Athletes – What Parents Can Look For

Tips to Reduce Tech Neck Pain

Tips to Reduce Tech Neck Pain

How often do you see your child hunched over their device, sporting poor posture and slouched shoulders with their head tilted forward? “Tech neck” symptoms are easy to spot on teens and kids, but adults are oftentimes just as bad. If you work on a computer all day, then spend time on your phone away from your desk, your posture is likely to be just as affected as your child’s.

As a parent today, I understand how much things have changed since I was a kid. I know, parents say that all the time, but it’s true. My childhood was spent outdoors, riding my bike and playing with friends. The technology in my house consisted of one TV that got four channels (which you had to get up to switch). The phone was something connected to the wall that had only one purpose, and that was to make calls – crazy, I know.

Today, a lot of kids have their own iPads at school, then many come home and ask to play games on their phones or tablets. According to Common Sense Media, the amount of time that kids spend on mobile devices each day is 10 times higher than it was eight years ago. Tech neck is wreaking havoc on their bodies, causing not only neck pain, but headaches, tingling, and eyesight issues.

Tips to Reduce Tech Neck PainWhat is tech neck?

Tech neck, also referred to as text neck, is when the shape of your spine changes due to bad posture, caused from spending hours looking down at a device, or slumped forward on a computer. Tech neck is easy to spot, simply look at a person from the side. Does their head tilt forward? Is there a lump at the base of their neck? Do their shoulders round forward? These are just a few telltale signs.

What are the symptoms of tech neck?
When you tilt your head forward just 45 degrees, your neck muscles are doing the work of lifting approximately 50 pounds. Headaches, neck pain or spasms, and shoulder pain are the most common complaints. Oftentimes people also have a hard time focusing or looking up after they’ve been looking down for a long time. In some cases a pinched nerve in your neck could cause feelings of numbness, tingling, neck pain, or weakness in your arms.

In severe cases, the muscles work so hard to hold your forward bending head up, they tighten, then put more pressure on the discs. This process makes the discs wear out faster, leading to a potential bulge or disc rupture. When a ruptured disc pinches a nerve it can cause severe pain, weakness, or numbness in the arm.

Tips to Reduce Tech Neck Pain

Tips to avoid tech neck pain

  • Practice Good Posture – Hunching over a computer all day or playing video games for hours on end almost guarantees a slouching posture, which is a major cause of tech neck pain and back pain. Trying to overcome bad posture might bring you back to your adolescent days when your mother always told you to sit up straight. We needed a reminder back then and we still need one today. Kids might respond to a quick sticky note that’s placed somewhere visible. A reminder for you might be a lumbar roll between your lower back and office chair.
  • Keep Devices at Eye Level – Tech neck pain is caused when you place your head at a forward position to look down at your device. Teach your child to hold their tablet or phone up so they’re looking straight at it at eye level – this will help reduce the pressure placed on the neck. Also, a monitor stand for your computer will help reduce neck pain. If you want to take things a step further, consider a standing desk, which has other health benefits due to the reduced amount of time sitting.
  • Limit Screen Time – Especially when it comes to kids, limit screen time and help them find a balance between the virtual and real world. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests no more than 2 hours per day of screen time for children over the age of 2. Kids needs to be active throughout the day.
  • Stretch – This is a quick and easy solution that you can use all day long. See our tips for stretching while at your desk. You should also get up and walk around once every hour that you’re at your desk. Encourage the same of your children if they’re spending extra time at the computer doing homework.

If your student (or you) are experiencing back, shoulder pain, or neck pain that you think may be associated with tech neck, schedule a free consultation with a physical therapist. You’ll have an opportunity to discuss what you’re experiencing and based on your symptoms we can recommend the next steps to alleviate your pain.

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Tips to Reduce Tech Neck Pain