Awareness holidays can shine the light on health issues facing everyday Houston area residents.
In September, awareness holidays relating to physical therapy include Healthy Aging, National Disaster Preparedness, and Pain Awareness Months. There’s National Childhood Injury Awareness and Childhood Obesity Awareness which illustrate kids musculoskeletal issues.
Let’s start with Healthy Aging Month.
Healthy Aging: Adding Life To Your Years
Healthy Aging Month encourages people 45 and older, to take a proactive approach for their health and well-being.
It’s about promoting positive attitudes about aging, maintaining your physical and mental health, and encouraging social engagement. Growing older is inevitable, but falling apart is optional. Healthy Aging Month points you to the tools and behaviors which help you age like a vintage wine, not a forgotten loaf of bread.
Is Healthy Aging Possible?
- Healthy aging isn’t just a catchphrase. It’s the difference between a long life plagued by health issues and one where you’re not only alive but thriving. Seriously, who wants to clock out at 60?
- There’s living, and then there’s living well. Exercise and good nutrition translate to fewer medical conditions, better mental health, and just a better experience of life as you age.
- Mobility issues? Relying on a handful of pills daily? Not if you age healthily. Independence is gold, especially when you’re older.
- Trust me, you don’t want your golden years to be tarnished by medical bills. Preventive care now saves you a lot later. Money aside, who wants to spend time in waiting rooms?
- Aging healthily helps preserve your cognitive abilities. Forgetfulness is not a mandate as you age; it’s a symptom of unhealthy aging.
- Less anxiety, depression, and stress are by-products of a healthy lifestyle. Keep that mind in as good a shape as your body.
- Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Keeping engaged socially helps you stay relevant and connected, and it staves off loneliness, which, by the way, is a killer in old age.
- Who said retirement means stopping? Aging healthily means you can still contribute to society, whether it’s a part-time job, volunteer work, or imparting wisdom to the less experienced.
- You’re setting an example for the generations that follow. Show your kids and grandkids that aging isn’t a decline, but a different phase of opportunity.
- Science has shown us that genetic factors are only a portion of the aging equation. A lot of it is within your control. Why not take the wheel?
How to Achieve Healthy Aging
- Get moving, and I’m not talking about from your bed to the couch. Cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and even walks can make a remarkable difference. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
- Cut down on processed foods and sugars. More fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Yeah, it’s almost like eating like an adult benefits you or something.
- Smoking kills, and excessive alcohol ruins your liver and brain. If you’re doing either, stop. If you enjoy a drink, make it a rare treat.
- Don’t wait until you’re broken to see a doctor. Preventive care can catch issues before they become major problems.
- Learn some coping mechanisms—meditation, deep-breathing exercises, or just a good old-fashioned hobby. Stress can wreak havoc on your body and mind.
- Human interaction isn’t just for the young. Friends and family keep you mentally engaged and can provide a valuable support system.
- Keep your brain sharp. Learn a new skill, read, or even play cognitive games. It’s exercise for your brain, and it’s just as vital.
- Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to a host of health problems, from weight gain to cognitive decline.
- The benefits of drinking enough water are countless. Better skin, improved digestion, and even better weight management.
- Mindset matters. A positive attitude is linked to longer life expectancy and better resilience against illness.
How Physical Therapy Can Contribute to Your Healthy Aging Plan
- Physical therapy offers you a non-pharmacological methods to manage pain. Goodbye to over-the-counter pain meds, hello targeted exercises that actually treat the cause.
- Stiffness in your joints? Physical therapy can improve your range of motion, making it easier for you to move around without resorting to a cane or walker.
- As you age, balance becomes a concern. Physical therapists provide exercises to improve stability and coordination, build strength, and reduce your risks of taking a disastrous spill.
- Let’s correct that slouch before you become Quasimodo. Improved posture not only looks better but also helps prevent spine-related issues.
- Muscle atrophy is common in aging. Physical therapy includes strength training exercises that preserve muscle mass, ensuring you remain functional longer.
- Breathing exercises often form part of a physical therapy regimen. These are particularly helpful for older adults with respiratory issues.
- Aerobic exercises that get your heart rate up are a staple in physical therapy, offering a safer way for older adults to maintain cardiovascular health.
- Those creaking joints aren’t just a nuisance; they can be a source of pain. Specific exercises help maintain joint integrity, giving arthritis a run for its money.
- One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to aging. Physical therapists tailor programs to individual needs, taking into account existing medical conditions.
- Let’s not forget the mental health benefits. Accomplishing physical goals can provide a much-needed psychological uplift, and improve your overall well-being.
No smoke and mirrors here. Physical therapy is an essential tool for aging gracefully and should be a part of your health arsenal.
Next up: National Childhood Injury Prevention Month
Childhood Injury Prevention Month raises awareness about the various risks and injuries that affect children. Think of it as a crash course in keeping your kids in one piece.
From the musculoskeletal perspective, children (age 18 and under) sprain ankles, twist knees, and often overexert themselves into an injury.
Not fully developed children become susceptible to common sports related injuries. We’ve treated numerous young athletes who play soccer, volleyball, football, basketball and more.
Many musculoskeletal injuries a child incurs today can, if left untreated, lead to problems such as arthritis later in life.
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
Childhood obesity has been a focus of health professionals for good reason; the implications stretch well beyond the cosmetic, affecting multiple bodily systems, including the musculoskeletal system. The extra weight that obese children carry has a substantial, long-lasting impact on their bones, joints, and muscles. Below are some of the most concerning long-term effects:
According to a study in American Journal of Orthopedics, childhood obesity significantly increases the risk of hip and knee osteoarthritis in adulthood. The extra load on weight-bearing joints expedites cartilage breakdown, which facilitates the degenerative process.
While these numbers don’t reflect excess weight contribution to arthritis, the CDC shows the numbers regarding arthritis by age.
- Among adults aged 65 and older, 50% report ever having been diagnosed with arthritis.
- Among adults aged 45 to 65 years, 31% report ever having been diagnosed with arthritis.
- Among adults aged 18 to 45 years, 7% report ever having been diagnosed with arthritis.
In short, extra weight fast-forwards kids to joint problems commonly faced by the elderly.
Poor Bone Health
Contrary to the assumption that heavier weight leads to stronger bones, a paper written by The University of Sheffield “The Impact of Childhood Obesity on Skeletal Health and Development” shows that many obese children actually have lower bone density. This is likely because these kids often lack in physical activity that stimulates bone growth and mineralization. The result? A higher susceptibility to fractures and osteoporosis down the line.
Muscle Imbalances and Posture Issues
Extra weight around the abdomen and chest can pull the spine and shoulders forward, leading to poor posture. According to a study re-published in the National Library of Medicine, children who are obese have a higher likelihood of developing back pain and lumbar disc disease. Poor posture and muscle imbalances at a young age set the stage for chronic musculoskeletal problems.
Flat Feet and Gait Problems
Excessive weight places stress on the feet, often leading to flat feet and altered gait. In a study article by the National Institutes of Health, a study “Gait Pattern, Impact to the Skeleton and Postural Balance in Overweight and Obese Children: A Review” demonstrates that obesity in children correlates with foot pain and changes in foot structure. These foot issues, in turn, can create a ripple effect, leading to pain and imbalances in the knees, hips, and back.
Growth Plate Problems
A study “The Role of Obesity in Pediatric Orthopedics” presented by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons found that overweight children have a heightened risk of growth plate fractures. The growth plate is the area of developing tissue near the end of long bones. Injuries here can disrupt the normal growth of the bone, potentially resulting in limbs that are unequal in length or stunted growth altogether.
In essence, childhood obesity acts like a Trojan horse, silently infiltrating the musculoskeletal system and leaving a destructive path that persists into adulthood. As these issues often become chronic, they further contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, creating a vicious and difficult-to-break cycle. Addressing obesity in childhood, therefore, isn’t just about preventing diabetes or cardiovascular issues; it’s about staving off a lifetime of musculoskeletal problems that can significantly diminish quality of life.
Have you experienced a natural disaster in Houston?
If you’ve experienced one anywhere, you probably have an intimate understanding of the related aches, pains, bumps and bruises. National Disaster Preparedness Month is a wake-up call to citizens, reminding them that calamities like hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, or even pandemics don’t exactly RSVP before arriving.
Emergency-Proof Your Body: Physical Therapy for Disaster Preparedness
From a physical therapy perspective, we’ve seen (and experienced) disaster related injuries.
What are typical musculoskeletal injuries before and after a hurricane?
Before a Hurricane:
Sprains and strains happen while you’re busy prepping—lifting heavy sandbags, boarding up windows, or carrying emergency supplies.
Climbing ladders to secure roofing or remove tree branches puts you at risk of falling.
The sudden need to move furniture or large objects for protection often leads to improper lifting techniques and back problems.
Sometimes the items you’re moving to prepare can tip over, leading to more serious injuries, like fractures.
Don’t forget about traffic either. As people leave an area, auto accident incidences rise along with musculoskeletal trauma injuries.
After a Hurricane:
Navigating through debris or unstable structures post-hurricane can lead to more severe injuries. You’ll be on uneven ground which can lead to a number of musculoskeletal injuries. While you’re clearing debris or during rescue efforts, soft tissue injuries and muscle strains can occur. They can range from bruises to serious contusions.
Overexertion and overuse injuries are common. A disaster aftermath often means long hours of physical labor, like clearing trees or rebuilding. The overexertion can lead to musculoskeletal strain.
Both preparation and recovery periods have their hazards. No superhero capes required, just good old-fashioned caution and proper technique.
How physical therapy helps mitigate typical musculoskeletal injuries before and after a hurricane
Before a Hurricane
Use proper lifting techniques. We can train you in the ergonomics of lifting heavy objects, like sandbags or furniture, to prevent back injuries. We can offer exercises that improve your balance and stability. This reduces the risk of falls while you’re climbing ladders or navigating uneven surfaces.
Although not our primary focus, our PT’s can provide advice on body mechanics while using tools to minimize strain and prevent cuts or bruises.
Therapy can enhance joint flexibility, making it easier for you to perform tasks like boarding up windows or carrying supplies without injury.
Also, core exercises prepare your body for heavy lifting and quick movements, offering better stability and injury prevention.
After a Hurricane
- Immediate Care: Physical therapists can assess and treat acute injuries like sprains or strains, helping you recover faster.
- Rehabilitation Exercises: Post-injury, a PT can design a tailored exercise regimen to expedite your recovery and restore full function.
- Manual Therapy: Techniques like soft tissue mobilization can accelerate healing and alleviate pain from bruises and contusions.
- Ergonomic Advice for Cleanup: You’ll be moving debris or rebuilding; a PT can instruct you on the safest ways to do so to prevent further injury.
The hurricane might be a force of nature, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare your own nature to face it. Physical therapy offers valuable tools to minimize injury and speed recovery in both pre and post-hurricane scenarios.
Breaking the Silence on Musculoskeletal Pain During Pain Awareness Month
Pain Awareness Month sheds light on the complex issue of chronic pain. “Just dealing with it” isn’t a viable solution.
While there are numerous types of pain, we focus on musculoskeletal pain. Whether it’s arthritic pain, knee pain, or back issues, the goal is the same: elevate the conversation about pain from a whisper to a roar. After all, suffering in silence doesn’t do you any favors. Here are a few ways physical therapy helps:
- Unlike surgery, physical therapy doesn’t require you to go under the knife. No scalpels, no anesthesia, no hospital gowns. It’s treatment without the theatrics.
- Opioids and other painkillers mask pain but don’t treat the root cause. Physical therapy can alleviate the underlying issue, allowing you to kick the pill habit.
- We can identify the precise muscle or joint causing your pain and treat the pain directly with specialized exercises or techniques. Precision beats guesswork any day.
- Chronic pain often limits mobility and daily activities. Physical therapy aims to restore normal function, not just relieve pain. You get to actually live your life, not just endure it.
- By improving your biomechanics and movement patterns, Bowman Physical Therapy minimizes the risk of recurring injuries. Essentially, it’s building you up so you’re harder to break next time.
- We’ll teach you how to manage your pain through posture corrections, ergonomic changes, and home exercises, equipping you with self-care tools.
- Through specific exercises and stretches, PT can improve the range of motion in affected joints, reducing your stiffness and pain.
- In the long run, PT can be more cost-effective than ongoing medication or surgical interventions. Plus, it often reduces the need for other medical services.
So, why should you consider physical therapy for chronic musculoskeletal pain? Because it’s a focused, personalized, and comprehensive approach that treats the cause, not just the symptoms. It’s not just about surviving the day, but getting you on the road again.
World Physical Therapy Day
What is World Physical Therapy Day?
World Physical Therapy Day recognizes the crucial role that physical therapists play in keeping people well, mobile, and independent. Let’s cut to the chase: Physical therapists aren’t just glorified massage therapists; they’re experts in body mechanics and rehabilitation.
World Physical Therapy Day serves to remind us that a well-functioning body isn’t just about avoiding illness; it’s about optimizing what you’ve got, from musculoskeletal health to neurological function.