The Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy can be beneficial for many conditions and circumstances.  It can improve heart and lung function, improve balance, help to re-train muscles after brain injuries, decrease pain and inflammation, and temporarily reduce symptoms of neurological conditions like Parkinson’s, among other things.  It can also be quite calming, and therefore improve one’s psychological state, which, as most know, is also tied to physical well-being. There are many different methods of aquatic therapy that can be tailored to what the individual needs of the patient are.  Some of the more common methods are Ai Chi, Bad Ragaz Ring Method, Halliwick Concept, Watsu, and the Burdenko Method. So what is it about water therapy that makes it useful for treating sports injuries, neurological conditions, post-operative rehabilitation, pain, edema, and more? Buoyancy.  The buoyancy of water can allow people to exercise with less fear and danger of falling than they would experience on land.  It also allows for exercise for those with injuries that make them unable to support their own weight, because the water itself is helping to support their body weight.  The water reduces the effects of gravity on the body, supports weak muscles, and increases flexibility and range of motion, which can be freeing for those with otherwise limited movement. Hydrostatic Pressure.  The force exerted by the water against the body reduces pain and edema, improves circulation, and reduces tactile sensory input (which is mostly what causes the calming effect).  This pressure also helps to tone the muscles involved in respiration, which improves lung function. Viscosity.  The viscosity of water provides resistance, which helps tone muscles, because the muscles...

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The leaves are changing colors and the days are shorter… Fall is here! With the seasonal changes and holiday’s quickly approaching some may find it hard to stay and feel connected. Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year. What is it? Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a depressive condition that most commonly occurs during the fall and winter months.  (Though there are some instances of its occurrence during spring and summer, they are much less common.)  The actual cause of SAD is unclear, but there is evidence that amount of sunlight plays a part. What are the symptoms? Symptoms of SAD are similar to those of other forms of depression, such as weight gain, increased sleep, irritability, loss of interest, trouble concentrating, etc. Some of the biological aspects of SAD are thought to be disruption of the circadian rhythm (sleep cycle), a decrease in levels of serotonin, and an increase in levels of melatonin.  All of these factors may keep the hypothalamus from functioning properly, which could lead to SAD. How is it treated? A common treatment for fall/winter-onset SAD is light therapy, or phototherapy.  A special box that produces a bright light that mimics natural sunlight is placed a few feet away, either above or in front of the person.  This is usually the option tried first for those with SAD, because it is often effective and has very few side effects. Other options are...

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Since 2000, March has been designated Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States, and the second most deadly, according to Healthfinder.gov. It is most often found in people age 50 and over, and it usually develops and spreads slowly over several years. Colorectal cancer most commonly begins with the development of a non-cancerous polyp (tumor) on the inner lining of the colon or rectum.  Some types of polyps are more likely to become cancer than others.  If the polyp does become cancerous, it spreads into the outer linings of the wall.  If it gets picked up by the blood or lymph vessels, it can spread to other parts of the body, like the liver.  This process is called metastasis. By far, the most common (about 95%) type of cancer found in the colon or rectum is adenocarcinoma, though there are a few other types (carcinoid tumors, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, lymphomas, and sarcomas) that do occasionally occur in these regions. The most common treatments for colorectal cancer are surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.  For severe cases, ablation or embolization may be utilized.  Depending on how advanced it is, more than one of these treatments may be used, either at the same time or consecutively. The good news is that it does develop slowly, so with regular screenings, it can be diagnosed early and treated more easily, or even prevented altogether if the polyp is discovered and removed before it has a chance to become cancerous. There are several different ways to screen for colorectal cancer:   Stool samples can be checked...

Plantar Fascitis: What is it and What Can Be Done?

Plantar fasciitis is the condition most often responsible for pain in the heel of the foot.  It affects about 10% of the population at some point in their lifetimes. What is it?  The plantar fascia are the ligaments that connect the heel of the foot with the ball of the foot and are responsible for supporting the arch.  If this band of tissue tears or becomes inflamed, plantar fasciitis has developed, causing a stabbing pain in the heel and/or tightness or tenderness along the arch of your foot. What causes it?  There are several factors that can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis, including: Age.  It is more common in middle-aged people (over 40). Being on your feet a lot.  It is more common to those who spend a lot of time standing or engaging in weight-bearing activities.  Athletes, soldiers, those who have jobs or hobbies that require standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time, etc., are more likely to develop this condition than those who do not spend as much time on their feet. Excessive pronation.  Those whose feet roll inward too much when they walk are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis. Rapid increases in length or levels of activity.  Beginning a new running program or changing to a job that requires a lot more standing or walking than you are accustomed to may increase risk. Increased body weight.  A body mass index (BMI) over 30 increases chances of developing the condition. Decreased calf muscle flexibility High arches or flat feet What can be done?  Physical therapy can help relieve the pain and discomfort...