Dementia: A Speech Therapist’s Perspective

Recognizing and Responding to Changes in Memory Has Value

Most of us notice “senior moments” from time to time – a speech language pathologist can evaluate your ability to learn and to remember.  Learning language and developing the understanding of concepts, math, science and social interaction are all related.  Our brains gradually develop throughout childhood and become fully developed by about the age of 25 years.  By the age of 40 our brains typically have been functioning very well with the use of frequent new learning, adding life experiences, which adds to our long-term memory.  Between 40 – 50 years of age there are underlying changes in the processing speed of neurons.  There are hormonal changes taking place, which we may not notice.  There is often a decrease in quality sleep emerging.  Our ability to use insulin to promote use of carbohydrates for fuel in our brains sometimes begins to decrease.  As we continue the aging process beyond 50 and into retirement years common changes have been noted, such as: 

Decrease in brain mass – areas of the brain related to higher level thinking, memory and processing emotions begin to shrink starting around age 60-70

Decline in brain cell connections and fewer connections available – slows the speed of processing information – thinking and understanding become slower

There is no Cure for Alzheimer’s Dementia, so we Must Focus on Prevention

 It is common for a person to experience a sense of embarrassment, shame and fear in moments of forgetting.  Not being able to think of a word, forgetting someone’s name, not remembering where an item was placed can cause emotional stress.  Once someone has established higher level thinking and has lived a life with effective learning, he may avoid recognizing such changes in function as signs. Since Alzheimer’s is known to have no cure, most people experience fear and avoidance, which increases anxiety. Ignoring changes in memory, learning, reaction time and functional language can not only prevent an opportunity to search for underlying problems, it can actually make the problem worse. Being honest with your doctor and/or speech therapist and asking questions can be the first step in preventing or slowing down the progression of dementia.

There are many factors, which result in memory lapses and / or confusion, therefore it is essential to explore why you are experiencing these changes.  It is important for loved ones to watch for and respond to such changes, as some people lack awareness of these changes or will make excuses.  

Common factors which impact changes in learning and remembering items are:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Thyroid imbalances
  • Depression
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Side effects from medications
  • Sleep Apnea 
  • Dietary (vitamin or mineral deficiencies) 
  • Metabolic dysfunctions (dehydration, kidney failure, COPD)
  • Infections
  • Heart disease
  • Brain tumors
  • Environmental toxins
  • Concussions – brain trauma 

Alzheimer’s Disease is Only One Form of Dementia

Dementia is a set of symptoms vs a disease, so addressing the underlying symptoms can reverse some types of dementia

These factors can present as dementia (a set of symptoms impacting multiple cognitive deficits). If these reversible causes are all ruled out and the dementia is progressive, there is a greater chance of you being diagnosed with another type of dementia.  Given the above list of reversible causes, it is important to be very open with your doctor who takes the time to listen and to test / explore possibilities. In addition, a speech language pathologist can help improve memory loss deficits and many other cognitive functions.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure, A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

These are common sayings which apply to this topic, as ignoring changes in memory and learning can often lead to dangerous and / or expensive situations.  Here are two examples:

An elderly woman listens to the doctor explain that her insulin dose needs to be changed.  She responds affirmatively, yet does not fully understand and later does not recall the details.  Therefore, she does not adjust her insulin, which results in unsafe blood sugar levels.  She arrives in the emergency room a couple months later, due to poorly controlled blood sugar.  

An elderly man is instructed on purchasing and using a walker, as his balance is impaired and his blood pressure sometimes drops quickly.  He does not recall the details, while he is shopping for the walker.  He becomes upset and confused by his inability to remember and leaves the store without purchasing a walker.  As he is walking to the dining room in his senior apartment building, his blood pressure drops and he falls.  He is taken by ambulance to the hospital and requires surgery for a broken hip.  

These are examples of situations where lack of recall, self-awareness or impaired judgement result in serious situations.  Not recognizing and responding to issues in time can end up being quite costly, painful or even fatal.  

To summarize, openly discuss concerns with your family and medical provider. Many medical issues can make memory and learning difficult. Some of these issues can be managed by your healthcare provider, resulting in improved learning, memory and quality of daily life.

Information provided by Dawn Witcraft, Speech Language Pathologist at Prairie Rehabilitation.

Dawn Witcraft, MA CCC-SLP completed her undergraduate degree from St. Cloud State University and her Master of Arts from the University of South Dakota in 1995. She has targeted training in strategies for working with those facing various forms of dementia and has a passion for educating others about dementia. Dawn works mostly in skilled nursing facility and outpatient settings, but in the past has worked in school settings with students from birth to 21 years of age, as PRN support in hospitals and at a pediatric therapy clinic.

About Prairie Rehabilitation 

At Prairie Rehabilitation our Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Hand Therapy and Speech Therapy experts are passionate about helping our patients reclaim their way of life and function. It’s about you; you are unique with distinct qualities, abilities, and needs. At Prairie Rehabilitation we embrace the philosophy of “Patient First” care; treating each individual with precise and personalized care. To achieve the best results and to speed your recovery, we are committed to utilizing the most clinically proven and current concepts in rehabilitation. 

A full list of our outpatient clinic locations can be found here. For those who cannot make it to out to one of our clinics, we also offer our Prairie at Home program. More information on this programcan be found here. Telehealth appointments (also known as video visits) are another option to receive the therapy you need from the comfort of your own home. More information on telehealth can be found here.

Everything You Need to Know About Telehealth for Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy



 You’re probably hearing a lot about telehealth, or “video visits” as a way to receive treatment, but you’re not quite sure what it is and what it means to you as a patient. We want to answer the questions you may have in regards to telehealth for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.  You don’t have to suffer through the COVID-19 crisis in pain, Prairie Rehabilitation is here to help. If you have any questions other than the ones listed below, please call our main office at 605-334-5630.

We asked one of our physical therapists, Jeff Steinberger, for his perspective on working with patients via telehealth. Steinberger has worked primarily with low back and hip pain patients but has patients with other injuries scheduled for the coming weeks. Here’s what he had to say: 

“As a physical therapist, I have found telehealth very convenient for my patients. With minimal moving of the camera to demonstrate and observe, it has been easy and very safe for those that we have chosen to use video visits. Video or virtual visits have been very handy and I expect will become much more common in the future due to the ability to complete from the home.”

What is telehealth?

Telehealth is the means to deliver therapy to people in need of services through secure technology—smartphone, tablet, or computer with a camera. Your therapist is responsible for developing a plan of care and for providing the delivery of that care. You receive a comprehensive visit with your therapist in the comfort of your home.

What do I need to participate?

Prairie Rehabilitation is offering telehealth to patients via a device—smartphone, or a tablet, or a computer with a camera. Our patient care coordinator schedules your appointment; you receive a secure link via email. Click the link, and you are ready to go.

How will I benefit from telehealth?

1. Convenience. There is no transportation time or costs. You can save money on gas, and the time it takes to drive to the clinic.

2. More convenience: there’s no need to take time off work. You can schedule your appointment during a break, over your lunchtime or before or after work. You can see your therapist from anywhere you feel you have enough privacy.

3. Even more convenience: eliminate child or eldercare issues. If you are caring for others or even serving as a teacher, you don’t have to find someone to fill in for you, which is even more challenging during social isolation.

4. Ergonomic evaluation: Let us help you get comfortable—from home work stations, sleeping positions, and other postural positions that may create pain.

5. Less exposure to illness – you won’t have to leave your home for therapy.

What if I just had surgery, or I’m getting ready for surgery; will this help me?

Physical therapists and occupational therapists are movement specialists, and movement affects improvement. Keeping your body and joints in motion is essential pre- or post-surgery.

We recognize that not all medical situations are right for telehealth, and you can trust our honest assessment of your case.

Does my insurance cover telehealth?

During the current public health emergency, most insurance companies are covering this service as if you were present in the clinic.

Is telehealth secure?

Absolutely. We are using the latest technology, which is HIPAA compliant. You are in the privacy of your own home, so you may access wherever you are most comfortable.

Who can I contact to find out if telehealth is right for me?

A list of our clinic locations may be found by clicking here, or through our Contact Us form here.

10 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY WORK STATION

Our experience working with people who encounter work station-related pain shows that most problems have common causes. Some simple suggestions may be helpful to you. Try these ideas for a few weeks. If your problems persist, formal physical therapy and/or occupational therapy, or further assessment by your physician may be warranted.

1. Your monitor and keyboard should be directly in front of you.

2. Your eyes should be level with the top of the monitor and an arm’s length away. Bifocal users may need to lower monitor unless viewed through top part of glasses.

3. Utilize a document holder to avoid a downward rotation of your head.

4. The keyboard should be level with your elbows.

5. Your elbows should be at no more than a 90 degree angle and your shoulders should be relaxed.

6. The mouse should be next to the keyboard and at the same height.

7. Use a wrist rest if needed, but avoid resting your wrists while you are typing. Your wrist should remain neutral.

8. Utilize the backrest with an adequate lumber support while working.

9. Your hips and knees should be at a 90 degree angle with 2-3 inches between the back of your knee and the seat.

10. Your feet should rest on the floor or on a footrest.

 ALSO, REMEMBER:

  • Change tasks and/or positions hourly.
  • Consider a headset if you spend extended time on the phone.
  • Close your eyes occasionally or focus on a distant object to avoid eye strain
  • Take time out to do the exercises described next.

Tim Myers, OT at Prairie Rehab in Sioux Falls and Harrisburg says, “Good form will lead to good function, which ultimately will lead to good health. It is very important that your work station is adjusted to suit your individual needs.”

WORK STATION STRETCHING AND STRENGHTHENING EXERCISES

LATERAL FLEXION
Tip your head to the side, trying to bring your ear to your shoulder. Keep looking straight ahead and try not to raise your shoulder to your ear. You may apply an additional stretch with your hand. Hold for 5 seconds, then release and alternate sides.

SHOULDER BLADE SQUEEZE
Stand or sit straight and tall. Tuck chin in and relax arms. Pull your shoulders back, squeezing your shoulder blades together and down. Hold for 5 seconds, release and repeat.

NECK GLIDE EXERCISE
Tuck your chin and pull your head back while continuing to look straight ahead. Make a double chin. Hold for 5 seconds, relax and repeat. 

SHOULDER CIRCLE
Slowly rotate your shoulders in a full circle, first backward, then repeat in the forward direction.

CERVICAL ROTATION
Turn your head and try to look over your shoulder. You may apply an additional stretch with your hand. 

FOREARM STRETCH
Straighten both arms out in front of you. Using opposite hand, stretch wrist back palm up. Then stretch wrist, palm down.

WRIST FLEXION
Lower your wrist from a straight position. Repeat 5 times. 

FISTING
Clench fist tightly, then release, fanning out fingers. Repeat 5 times.

If your problems persist after attempting the above exercises, a more personalized program may be appropriate. Ashley Hoyme, OT at Prairie Rehab in Minnesota says, “There is a difference between pain pain and good pain, you don’t have to live with pain that limits your opportunities. Occupations are your everyday activities and hobbies. What do you want to get back to?” 

Our therapy team at Prairie Rehab is ready to take the next step with you. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have. 

For those who cannot make it to out to one of our clinics, we also offer our Prairie at Home program. More information on this program can be found here. A full list of our outpatient clinic locations can be found here

About Prairie Rehabilitation 

At Prairie Rehabilitation our Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Hand Therapy and Speech Therapy experts are passionate about helping our patients reclaim their way of life and function. It’s about you; you are unique with distinct qualities, abilities, and needs. At Prairie Rehabilitation we embrace the philosophy of “Patient First” care; treating each individual with precise and personalized care. To achieve the best results and to speed your recovery, we are committed to utilizing the most clinically proven and current concepts in rehabilitation. 

Ashley Hoyme OTD, OTR/L completed her occupational therapy doctorate in May 2019 after obtaining her Master of Science OT degree in December 2014 from the University of South Dakota. She works at the Worthington Prairie Rehabilitation outpatient clinic, surrounding nursing homes and home health. Ashley has spent 5 years with Prairie Rehabilitation and enjoys rehabilitating shoulders and upper extremity injuries to help patients return to his/her daily occupations.

Timothy Myers, OTR/L graduated from the University of South Dakota in December 2011. He has worked for Prairie Rehabilitation in a variety of settings including skilled nursing, home health and outpatient. His goal is for individuals to be independent with their daily activities. Currently he works outpatient rehab with a focus on orthopedics and occupational health.

Video Visit May be an Option During COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have stopped much of the world. Busy streets and shops are empty, activities are cancelled and you may not even be going to work. One thing that the virus has not stopped is pain and injury. Maybe you were seeing your PT when stay at home orders were issued. Maybe you’ve been having more pain and soreness in your back or neck because of all the time you’ve spent in front of the computer working at home, or maybe you hurt yourself over the weekend doing some yard work or exercising to relieve stress. How do you get the care you need without putting yourself or others at risk during this time of social distancing? 

Prairie Rehabilitation remains open to serve our communities for your physical therapy, occupational and speech therapy needs. Our Prairie Rehab at Home program also remains available for those who cannot travel or have other barriers that prevent attendance at our outpatient clinics. 

Our number one principle we are focusing on is maximizing the safety of our patients and employees. We want to continue to deliver the best services possible to our patients to keep them healthy and moving. In order to do this, we are taking the following precautions:

  • Before treatment, out patient care coordinators are asking screen questions and taking temperatures of all patients. Employees are also screened and have their temperatures taken before starting their work day and are required to wear masks.
  • We are staggering patient arrival times to allow for social distancing.
  • Our employees are taking extra measures to keep our clinics clean and sanitized by frequently disinfecting our waiting areas, door handles, equipment, countertops and all other surfaces. 
  • Frequent hand-washing and the use of hand sanitizer continue to be top priorities for all of our staff.

 Video Visit 

Technology like the internet, electronic medical records, online patient portals, smartphones and webcams open up treatment and intervention options that may be new to both you and your provider. Virtual platforms allow one-on-one interactions in real time. Patient portals allow uploads and updates of home exercise programs and educational materials. You may not be able to go to your PT, but your PT may be able to come virtually to you! Rules and regulations vary from state to state, and insurer to insurer. They are also being rapidly updated and changed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the best way to find out what is available to you is to contact us and ask. 

Video Visit Tips 

  • You’ll need a device with a screen, camera and microphone. This could be a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • You may need a specific app – your therapist will tell you what you need and where to find it.
  • Choose a private space where you feel comfortable to conduct your visit. Make sure you have room to move, this is still a PT visit and movement is the whole point! 
  • Wear clothes that you can move in, and that your PT can see you move in. Very loose, baggy clothing makes it hard for your PT to see and evaluate your movement.
  • Collect any equipment you may have beforehand, so your PT knows what you have to work with. Examples might include resistance bands, foam rollers, yoga mats and blocks, etc. 
  • Be ready to get creative and have fun! For many patients and therapists, video visits are a new experience so expect to work together and try new things to find what works best for you. 

COVID-19 Letter

As our communities begin to feel the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to share with you the steps we’re taking at Prairie Rehabilitation to help protect the health and safety of our patients and staff, which is always our top priority.

We’re closely monitoring local and national reports on the evolving impact of COVID-19 and based on guidance from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and applicable public health agencies.

Our housekeeping and sanitization efforts continue with the high standards we have always followed. We frequently disinfect often touched surfaces such as door handles, countertops, keypads, restroom surfaces, and exercise & therapy equipment.

We feel deeply for those who have been affected. Thankfully, as of now, we’re not aware of any patient or staff member contracting COVID-19. We have implemented guidelines that instruct any coworker who may develop symptoms or come into contact with infected individuals to stay home and follow the CDC’s instructions. 

Again, the health and safety of our patients and coworkers are our top priority and we’re committed to doing our part to help keep you safe.

80% of Americans Experience Back Pain, Physical Therapists Can Prevent It

Got back pain? You’re not alone. Eighty percent of Americans suffer from low back and neck pain at some point in their lives. Let that sink in. With such great odds that you—or someone close to you—will one day become a statistic, wouldn’t it make sense to arm yourself with preventive strategies and knowledge? Physical therapy at Prairie Rehabilitation is a good place to start.

Troy Van Orman, PT at Prairie Rehab & Fitness in Worthington says, “Physical therapy is an excellent place to start with back pain issues. Physical therapists are trained to identify the reasons an individual may be finding it more and more difficult to move and get by day to day due to back pain.” 

By performing a thorough evaluation, a physical therapist can identify the muscular, postural and skeletal limitations that could one day lead to an episode of back pain. “Our team can help identify both the foundational issue for your back pain as well as other possible contributing factors,” says Van Orman. As part of the assessment, your PT will observe as you perform a series of exercises and then gather an account of your daily activity level and environmental factors like operating machinery or working at a desk 40 hours a week. “Performing an evaluation helps us identify the need for a possible referral to your physician for additional assessment if concerns are found during the process,” says Van Orman.

Your PT will then use all of this knowledge to design a personalized exercise program and teach you a few strategies to prevent back pain such as:

  • Use good body positioning at work, home and during recreational activities.
  • Keep the load close to your body during lifting.
  • Ask for help before lifting heavy objects.
  • Maintain a regular physical fitness regimen—staying active can help to prevent injuries.

Lifestyle can also play a big role in back pain. Increasing your activity and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, completing appropriate exercises that meet your needs, maintaining a healthy weight, and identifying the source of your back pain are all ways that can help improve your day to day function.  

Pay attention to the little things throughout your day that could add up to bigger problems down the line. Let’s go back to that desk job for a minute: How often do you get up to walk, stretch and move throughout the day? A good rule of thumb is to stand up or move every 30 minutes.

 Keep your back muscles strong. Back pain happens when there’s degeneration of the spine due to the spine being overworked. But when you build up enough muscle strength in your back with exercise, the muscles can now give your spine the support it needs to stay healthy. That’s why physical therapy is standard with back pain treatment, but being in shape can help you avoid back pain to begin with. 

Don’t let back pain limit your lifestyle. People who regularly experience back pain often give up or limit activities they enjoy. This interferes with living your life to its fullest. Working with a physical therapist at Prairie Rehab can help you identify the factors that might contribute to back pain and help to develop a prevention plan. “We will educate you and develop a plan to increase activity, progress strength and start the process of change to help you attain a more active and healthier lifestyle,” says Van Orman. 

These recommendations will help you feel better so you can get back to doing what you love. With such good odds that you could someday become a low back pain statistic, why not do everything in your power today to change your trajectory? 

Troy Van Orman, MSPT graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1995 with a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy. After working at Children’s Care Hospital and School (Lifescape) in Sioux Falls for 6 years, he moved to Worthington, Minnesota to work at Prairie Rehab & Fitness and provide coverage to skilled nursing facilities. Currently Troy manages both of the Worthington Prairie Rehab outpatient clinics. 

Our therapy team at Prairie Rehab is ready to take the next step with you. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have. 

For those who cannot make it to out to one of our clinics, we also offer our Prairie at Home program. More information on this program can be found here. A full list of our outpatient clinic locations can be found here

About Prairie Rehabilitation 

At Prairie Rehabilitation our Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Hand Therapy and Speech Therapy experts are passionate about helping our patients reclaim their way of life and function. It’s about you; you are unique with distinct qualities, abilities, and needs. At Prairie Rehabilitation we embrace the philosophy of “Patient First” care; treating each individual with precise and personalized care. To achieve the best results and to speed your recovery, we are committed to utilizing the most clinically proven and current concepts in rehabilitation. 

Your Physical Therapist Can Help You Keep Your Resolution

As one year comes to a close and another begins, people begin to set goals and make resolutions. Losing weight, getting to the gym more often or getting into “better shape” are all common. These all require increasing your amount of physical activity. More activity is great for your health, energy levels, sleep, and mood. However, ramping up your activity level too quickly after a holiday season of eating, drinking and being merry can lead to pain, injury and disappointment if your body isn’t ready for it.

Physical therapists at Prairie Rehabilitation are experts in human movement, and can help you safely reach your fitness goals. People think of PT’s as the people to see after an injury, but a visit before you change your activity level could prevent injury in the first place.

Charlie Bigelow, PT at Prairie Rehab says, “Physical therapists are experts at picking up movement imbalances that are often precursors and symptoms of the injury. We can help you with correction of any movement issues, which will decrease the dysfunctional movement pattern thus decrease or minimize the chance that one would be injured in the first place. Our physical therapists can develop a program customized to your needs that will lead you to better overall health.”

An evaluation by your PT at Prairie Rehab will include an assessment of your strength, range of motion, and functional movement patterns – think jumping, running, squatting and carrying. Some of our PT’s like to use a standardized assessment, such as the Functional Movement Screen.

The most common injuries from new fitness routines are caused by underlying weakness, range of motion deficits, or compensatory movement patterns. Your Prairie Rehab PT will find these during your assessment. They can then prescribe exercises or movements to address the issues found and get you safely moving into the New Year.

“Each person that is starting a fitness program should work with one of our professionals to determine the base fitness level and receive an individual fitness prescription to ensure a successful transition to a higher level of activity,” says Bigelow.

The other common way people get injured working toward their resolution is with over-training, or doing too much too soon. Bigelow says, “Too much incorrect activity can lead to increased injuries or increase the injury the person has going into their program.”

Physical therapists at Prairie Rehab are also experts in exercise prescription and program design. Your PT can help you create a routine specific to your needs and goals that will progress appropriately and keep you out of trouble.

So stop only thinking of your PT after you’re injured. In this case, it’s true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Seeing a physical therapist before you start on your resolution can keep you on track, injury free, and help you reach your goals for the new year.

Charlie Bigelow, PT has been a therapist for 39 years and works in a variety of settings. His training emphasizes treatment of orthopedic and neurological conditions. He provides treatment for all age groups and has a specialized training in the treatment of adults. He works in outpatient clinics and in the long-term care setting. He received specialized training in manual therapy treatments of the entire spine.  He has also received training in posture restoration as well as neurological reeducation techniques in the improvement of functional movement patterns.

Our therapy team at Prairie Rehab is ready to take the next step with you. To schedule an appointment or get more information, please call our main office at 605-334-5630. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

For those who cannot make it to out to one of our clinics, we also offer our Prairie at Home program. More information on this program can be found here. A full list of our outpatient clinic locations can be found here.

About Prairie Rehabilitation

At Prairie Rehabilitation our Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Hand Therapy and Speech Therapy experts are passionate about helping our patients reclaim their way of life and function. It’s about you; you are unique with distinct qualities, abilities, and needs. At Prairie Rehabilitation we embrace the philosophy of “Patient First” care; treating each individual with precise and personalized care. To achieve the best results and to speed your recovery, we are committed to utilizing the most clinically proven and current concepts in rehabilitation.

November = National Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness Month!

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a leading cause of death in the United States, affecting 16 million Americans and many more who don’t even know they have it. In fact, more than 65 million people worldwide have moderate or severe COPD. Experts predict that this number will continue to rise worldwide over the next 50 to 100 years.

Gidget McAreavey, OT at Prairie Rehab explains in the following article what COPD is, its causes and symptoms, and how occupational therapy can benefit those who have COPD.

What is COPD?

According to McAreavey COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a chronic lung disease that includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema or both. It affects the lungs and causes reduced airflow, which makes it hard to breathe.

With COPD, she says the airways in your lungs thicken and become inflamed and the tissue where oxygen is exchanged is destroyed. The flow of air in and out of your lungs decreases. When that happens, less oxygen gets into your body tissues, and it becomes harder to get rid of the waste gas carbon dioxide. “COPD is a progressive disease which means it gets worse over time,” says McAreavey. Check out the infographic below for a visual of how COPD affects breathing.

What causes COPD and what are the symptoms?

Gidget states the causes of COPD are:

  • cigarette smoking – most common
  • secondhand smoke
  • dust
  • chemicals
  • outdoor air pollution
  • genetic factors

People with COPD are also likely to experience episodes called exacerbations, during which their symptoms become worse than usual day-to-day variation and persist for at least several days.

How can occupational therapy help with COPD?

McAreavey states, “As occupational therapists, we specialize in assisting people to develop, recover, improve and maintain skills needed for daily living and work through therapeutic use of everyday activities.”

When working with patients who have COPD, occupational therapists can address:

  1. Compensatory breathing techniques
  2. Energy conservation techniques
  3. Stress management and symptom control
  4. Exercise
  5. Patient education and instruction on disease management
  6. Activities of daily living retraining with use of energy conservation and compensatory techniques to decrease symptom exacerbation
  7. Leisure activity exploration and participation

Occupational therapists can also assist a patient with COPD through lifestyle change, which is really what most of the above are addressing. When addressing these areas, occupational therapists are able to improve a patient’s occupational performance through habit and lifestyle changes such as: decreasing or quitting smoking, helping to avoid environmental triggers and increasing physical activity.

*Please note that physical therapy can also help with COPD. Physical therapy interventions are typically designed around an exercise program to improve oxygen exchange.

Jeff Steinberger, PT at Prairie Rehab says, “Due to the difficulty many people have with energy expenditures associated with COPD, we often start with our Prairie at Home program and transition to our outpatient clinics for further strengthening as the patient progresses.”

Gidget McAreavey, OTR/L, received her Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant in 1996 from the North Dakota State College of Science. She then went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy at the University of Mary. She has worked at Prairie Rehab for 19 years and serves patients at our Sioux Falls and Hartford clinics, along with providing in-home therapy patient care through our Prairie at Home program.


Our therapy team at Prairie Rehab is ready to take the next step with you. To schedule an appointment or get more information, please call our main office at 605-334-5630. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

More information about our Prairie at Home program can be found here. A full list of our outpatient clinic locations can be found here.

About Prairie Rehabilitation

At Prairie Rehabilitation our Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Hand Therapy and Speech Therapy experts are passionate about helping our patients reclaim their way of life and function. It’s about you; you are unique with distinct qualities, abilities, and needs. At Prairie Rehabilitation we embrace the philosophy of “Patient First” care; treating each individual with precise and personalized care. To achieve the best results and to speed your recovery, we are committed to utilizing the most clinically proven and current concepts in rehabilitation.

Infographic Source: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/copd-learn-more-breathe-better/social-media-posts

Five Tips for Taking Care of your Back

About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime. Low back pain is the most common job-related issue relating to missed work days. To lessen its effect and for preventative care, therapists at Prairie Rehab offer these five tips for taking care of your back.

#1 Lift with your hips and legs.

Your hips and legs are much more powerful than your back and will help protect your spine with proper lifting. Check out the following principles of proper lifting to help prevent injury and avoid back pain.

  • First test the object for weight, load distribution, load stability, and availability of reliable grip points.
  • Position your feet so that they are about shoulder width apart, and one is slightly forward of the other to assist with center of gravity and neutral spine.
  • Bend your knees, tighten your abdominal muscles, and keep your back straight (neutral spine).
  • Lift the load slowly and steadily. Use of momentum can decrease control. Lee Glasoe, OTR, CHT at Prairie Rehab demonstrates how this should look:

#2 Don’t twist – maintain good posture.

Twisting creates more strain on your spine and the cushioning discs between your vertebrae. Proper posture allows for better movement, improved breathing, and decreases pressure on the lower back, middle back and neck. Good posture keeps the three natural spinal curves of your body which include the cervical curve of the neck, the thoracic curve of the upper back and the lumbar curve of the lower back. Overall, good posture will make you feel better.

#3 Get strong!

Strengthening your core can improve your posture and balance. It can also help ease back pain and prevent further injury or strain. Because your core supports your spine, strong abdominal muscles take the pressure off your back and help align your spine. Try the following core strengthening exercises to help you improve your strength.

Core Strengthening Exercises

Side Plank


Jason Rostomily, PTA at Prairie Rehab
  1. Start on your side with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder.
  2. Contract your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to feet.
  3. Hold the position without letting your hips drop for the allotted time for each set, then repeat on the other side.

Forearm Plank


Jason Rostomily, PTA at Prairie Rehab
  1. Place forearms on the floor with elbows aligned below shoulders and arms parallel to your body at about shoulder width. Contract your core and keep your body straight!
  2. If flat palms bother your wrists, clasp your hands together.

Squat


Zach Schneider, PT Student at Prairie Rehab
  1. Stand with your feet apart, directly under your hips, and place your hands on your hips.
  2. Standing up tall, put your shoulders back, lift your chest, and pull in your abdominal muscles.
  3. Bend your knees while keeping your upper body as straight as possible while you bend at your hips, as if you were lowering yourself onto a seat behind you. Lower yourself as far as you can while leaning your upper body a few inches forward as pictured.

Wall Sit


Jason Rostomily, PTA at Prairie Rehab
  1. Make sure your back is flat against the wall.
  2. Set your feet about shoulder-width apart and then about 2 feet out from the wall.
  3. Slide your back down the wall, bending your legs until they’re in a 90-degree angle. Your knees should be directly above your ankles.
  4. Hold your position for 30 to 60 seconds, while contracting your abs.
  5. Stand slowly while sliding back up the wall to finish.

#4 Stay flexible by stretching.

Stretching reduces the risk of musculoskeletal injuries by reducing fatigue, improving muscular balance and posture, and improving muscle coordination. It also realigns soft tissue structures, thus reducing effort to achieve and maintain good posture in activities of daily living. Stretching increases joint synovial fluid (lubricant for bones and articular cartilage) that allows greater range of motion and reduces joint degeneration.

Try these stretches to help stay flexible:

Standing Glute Stretch


Zach Schneider, PT Student at Prairie Rehab

Standing Lunge Stretch


Jason Rostomily, PTA at Prairie Rehab

#5 Be in balance with your movement.

Your body is meant to move. If you move in balance, your body functions best. If one side is injured and you favor it for a long time, your body adapts and eventually that becomes your new normal. Much like a car out of alignment, this creates additional wear and tear in your body.

Our therapy team at Prairie Rehab is ready to take the next step with you. To schedule an appointment or get more information, please call our main office at 605-334-5630. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

A full list of our outpatient clinic locations can be found here.

About Prairie Rehabilitation

At Prairie Rehabilitation our Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Hand Therapy and Speech Therapy experts are passionate about helping our patients reclaim their way of life and function. It’s about you; you are unique with distinct qualities, abilities, and needs. At Prairie Rehabilitation we embrace the philosophy of “Patient First” care; treating each individual with precise and personalized care. To achieve the best results and to speed your recovery, we are committed to utilizing the most clinically proven and current concepts in rehabilitation.

About the Private Practice Section of the APTA

Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org

Tips to Help Prevent Pain While Bicycling

Avid bicyclists spend a lot of time on their bikes, which can cause injuries and/or pain. In addition to a good bike fitting at your local bike shop, Jeff Steinberger, PT at Prairie Rehabilitation offers these exercise ideas and treatment tips. Jeff practices at our Sioux Falls Cliff Avenue clinic when he is not riding.

Jeff Steinberger, PT at Prairie Rehab

 

1. Stretch and be flexible. Many muscle groups tend to tighten with long bike rides. Your hips, hamstrings and heel cords are most at risk. Some simple exercises can help to keep the muscles long and add leg strengthening as well. To stretch your hips, try the following:

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch (Jason Rostomily, PTA at Prairie Rehab)

 

Hamstring Stretch (Zach Schneider, PT Student at Prairie Rehab)

For strengthening your quad muscles on the front of your thighs and to stretch heel cords, try this dynamic duo:

Glute Squat (Zach Schneider, PT Student at Prairie Rehab)

 

2. Get strong! Core strength of your hips, pelvic floor, back and abdomen combine to protect your spine. A proper plank exercise works most of these muscles. Do not arch up or sag down. Stay straight.

Prone Plank Exercise
(Jason Rostomily, PTA at Prairie Rehab)

 

3. Be in balance with your movement. Your body is meant to move and if you move in balance, it functions best. If one side is injured and you favor it for a long time, your body adapts. Eventually that becomes your new normal, which creates additional wear and tear in your body. Again, a good bike fitting is important.

If you do develop some knee pain, Jeff has shown many this basic kinesiotaping which may save the day:

 

If these tips do not help, an evaluation by your physical therapist may be just the ticket you need to resolve your pain. To schedule an appointment or get more information, please call our main office at 605-334-5630. We would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

A full list of our outpatient clinic locations can be found here.

About Prairie Rehabilitation
At Prairie Rehabilitation our Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Hand Therapy and Speech Therapy experts are passionate about helping our patients reclaim their way of life and function. It’s about you; you are unique with distinct qualities, abilities, and needs. At Prairie Rehabilitation we embrace the philosophy of “Patient First” care; treating each individual with precise and personalized care. To achieve the best results and to speed your recovery, we are committed to utilizing the most clinically proven and current concepts in rehabilitation.

About the Private Practice Section of the APTA
Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org.