Author Archives: MidMichigan Health

Physical Therapy for Pregnant and Post-Partum Women

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Did you know that seeing a physical therapist can help with pregnancy-related pain? And, post-partum physical therapy can help a mom improve posture, core and pelvic strength, even if delivery was many years ago.

Pregnancy brings changes to a woman’s body, including weight gain, altered center of gravity and balance, laxity in her ligaments and increased blood volume. These changes play a huge role in her ability to maintain her same activity level without added stress and strain. In a study published in the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it was estimated that more than 65 percent of pregnant women experience low back pain.

Physical therapy can help pregnant women reduce pain through stretching and soft tissue release techniques, strengthening exercises and teaching proper mechanics for all activities to reduce the risk of pain, especially low back and pelvic pain.

Following delivery, a new mother is faced with juggling car seats, diaper bags and feeding positions, and often has a desire to get back into a regular exercise routine. Labor and delivery of the baby affects the mother’s pelvic floor (muscles required to prevent unwanted leakage of urine, stool or gas), abdominal muscles and low back, just to name a few. A qualified physical therapist will complete a thorough evaluation to determine what the best method of recovery will be for you to improve unwanted leakage, pelvic or back pain, lifting mechanics and posture.

Seeing a physical therapist during this joyous time of a woman’s life can simply help a mom or mom-to-be ease into her new role and alleviate some common unwanted symptoms.

Jerilyn Strong, D.P.T., is part of MidMichigan Health’s Rehabilitation Services team in Ithaca. She provides physical therapy in her hometown community, and specializes in pelvic floor therapy. To make an appointment, contact her office at (989) 875-4193.

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Kinesio Taping: It’s Not Just for Athletes

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What is Kinesio Tape?

Kinesio tape is a type of elastic adhesive tape that can be used in all populations from pediatrics to geriatrics to elite athletes. Kinesio tape is latex-free, hypoallergenic, water resistant, and is able to be worn for multiple days at a time. One of the differences with Kinesio tape compared to other athletic tapes is that it does not restrict or limit range of motion. Therefore, the tape should be applied to allow for full range of motion.

What does Kinesio Tape Do?

Kinesio tape microscopically lifts the skin and can help to facilitate lymphatic drainage, decrease inflammation and increase space. The tape should be applied once an evaluation has been completed to determine limitation and target area. The taping application varies depending on the target tissue and the result that the practitioner is looking to achieve. The tape can also be applied in various cuts based on the results that the practitioner is looking for. Based on the way that the tape is cut and the stretch placed when applying the tape, Kinesio tape is able to decrease inflammation, improve circulation, promote lymphatic drainage and assist with healing and for neuromuscular re-education. Kinesio tape can also be applied in combination with other modalities during a treatment session.

When using Kinesio tape, it is important to perform a full assessment with each patient to determine the desired outcome. It’s also important to educate each patient on the tape application, how to remove it and what to do in case of an adverse reaction. Kinesio tape has been shown to have positive effects of multiple systems of the body and can be used in any stage of rehabilitation.

Lauren Gillette, P.T., D.P.T., is a physical therapist and certified Kinesio taping practitioner at MidMichigan Medical Center – West Branch.

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ACL Reconstruction Rehabilitation

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The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, helps stabilize your knee when you perform an activity. Without it, the knee can easily buckle. This stability from the ACL is vital to functional mobility.

Another key part of the ACL’s role is to provide input to the brain, something that is often forgotten. Inside a fully functioning, non-damaged ACL are nerves called proprioceptors. These tell the brain where the knee is in space and if the joint is moving or staying still. When an ACL is torn, these nerves no longer function. The brain is no longer receiving input from the ACL.

During a rehabilitation process, it’s common to focus on your knee when performing exercises. This causes a visual link between the knee and its mechanics. The eyes tell the brain where the knee is, and if it’s moving or stationary. This is fine for when a person is working out in the gym or in another quiet and distraction-free setting.

However, when a person with an ACL reconstruction steps back onto the playing surface, their eyes are no longer focused on what their knees are doing. The eyes are distracted, the brain is no longer receiving the proprioceptive input that it needs and the knee may become less stable. This creates a huge concern for re-injury to the reconstructed ACL.

Because of this, if you’ve suffered an ACL injury, it’s important to perform therapy and exercises with a physical therapist that is going to help your brain and knee work independently of visual stimulation. It’s important to find a trained, qualified therapist to help guide you through your ACL reconstruction rehabilitation.

Jacob Hart, D.P.T., is a full-time physical therapist at MidMichigan Medical Center – Mt. Pleasant with special interests in sports medicine, injury prevention and orthopedics.

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Preventing Lower Back Pain with a Strong Core

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Research has shown that at least 80 percent of people will experience lower back pain at some point in their lifetime. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, it’s the number one cause of job-related disability and a leading factor to missed work days.

Back pain doesn’t discriminate – it affects men and women equally. It can develop due to a variety of factors, such as an accident, lifting something heavy, or a spine condition or other age-related issue. You’re more likely to experience back pain if you live a sedentary lifestyle.

While some back pain resolves on its own, some people experience chronic back pain that needs to be treated. Conservative, or non-surgical, options include physical therapy. Modalities, manual therapy, strengthening, stabilization and flexibility exercises will be customized for each patient and their needs.

One exercise that will help treat lower back pain is the strengthening of the core. When your core muscles are weak, other muscles are working overtime to compensate for the weakness. This can and will result in poor posture and body mechanics, which will exacerbate your pain or even lead to more lower back pain. This can be addressed during your initial physical therapy evaluation and hopefully be resolved during therapy, leaving you pain-free through a conservative approach.

Jamie Siple, P.T.A., L.M.T., is a physical therapy assistant in West Branch. She is passionate about educating her community, and has a special interest in helping her patients prevent lower back injuries.

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How Can Physical Therapy Help You Recover From a Concussion?

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There are many symptoms an individual can develop after a hit to the head or concussion. An individual who has sustained a concussion can develop headaches, neck pain, dizziness and issues with balance and difficulty focusing while reading or doing work on a computer. For these physical symptoms, physical therapy can play a vital role in an individual’s recovery.

The 5th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Berlin in Oct. 2016 came to the conclusion that physical therapy does play an important role in the recovery of a concussed athlete and therefore all individuals who have sustained a concussion.  Continue reading.

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Decreasing Your Risk of Lymphedema Before Breast Cancer Treatment or Surgery

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What is lymphedema? It’s a buildup of lymph fluid in the fatty tissues just under your skin most commonly caused by the removal of or damage to your lymph nodes as part of cancer treatment. It results in a blockage in your lymphatic system which causes swelling, most often in the arms and legs but it can affect the face, neck, abdomen and genitals, depending upon what area of the body was treated.

Early detection of the onset of lymphedema increases the likelihood of successful treatment. Changes are usually subtle and progress slowly. Swelling may not be the first noticeable symptom. Sometimes, it is a sensory change such as a tingling feeling that will come and go, a feeling of heaviness or tightness in the limbs, or other subtle signs like jewelry feeling a little snug or a Continue reading.

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Concussion Basics

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Concussions are a big topic in sports right now. Many people want to know what a concussion is, what the symptoms are, what they need to watch for and what the causes of a concussion are.

A concussion is a brain injury  that is brought on by a trauma to either the head or other parts of the body. The injury causes the brain to move more than it should and can make the brain function abnormally. This abnormal function can bring on many different symptoms that can be both physical and behavioral.  Continue reading.

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Helping You Prepare for Breast Cancer Surgery

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Preparing for breast cancer surgery can bring a lot of stress and anxiety. You may be experiencing many different emotions and have a list of unanswered questions. The breast cancer team at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland is available to offer information and support to help you prepare for your surgical experience.

A monthly “Healing After Breast Surgery” class is held at the Center for Women’s Health on the campus of MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. This free class is offered the third Friday of every month and is hosted by a certified lymphedema physical therapist and a certified breast cancer nurse navigator. Both individuals are also certified in the rehabilitation of cancer patients.

Common topics reviewed and explained at the class include lymphedema, normal post-operative changes, how to care for your drain tubes and incisions, signs and symptoms of infection to watch for, nutrition for breast cancer and when therapy may be needed.

Patients are taught effective stretching exercises to perform after breast surgery that can preserve arm function and mobility and reduce the chance of lymphedema.

By educating you on these topics either prior to or shortly after your surgery, the goal is to provide you with the tools and knowledge necessary for a positive recovery experience. Small group sessions are held monthly to foster an inviting, laid-back atmosphere where patients feel comfortable discussing their fears or concerns.

Family members and caregivers are welcome to attend to support their loved one preparing for surgery. Educational booklets and references are provided free of charge.


MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland’s Breast Health Program is certified through the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers and has been recognized as the region’s only Certified Quality Breast Center of Excellence from the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers Program. Those who would like more information or to register for an upcoming Healing After Breast Surgery class may call (989) 837-9045.

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Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis in the Big Toe Joint

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Osteoarthritis is a common joint disease, one that affects nearly 20 million Americans. The condition involves the degeneration of the cartilage surface of a joint. Although it can affect any joint, it is common in the foot, ankle and toes, in particular the big toe.

When the cartilage in a joint wears away, the joint becomes exposed. When a patient with osteoarthritis in their feet or toes moves and walks, the joint grinds against itself, which is extremely painful. Plus, these patients often develop bone spurs on top of the joint, causing additional discomfort.

Osteoarthritis is a progress disease that tends to worsen over time. Treatment ranges from non-invasive options to surgery, and differs depending on each patient’s case.

For patients with osteoarthritis in the big toe joint, treatment options can include shoe inserts and steroid injections. If those don’t work, surgical options are available, including a new procedure called the Cartiva SCI implant.

The Cartiva SCI implant involves the surgeon making an incision on the top of the big toe and removing or cleaning up any bone spurs affecting the joint. Then, the implant is placed and tested – overall, the procedure takes less than an hour.

Recovery from this surgery usually sees patients wearing a boot or brace for a few weeks, followed by stretching exercises and regular shoes when the patient is comfortable. After about six weeks, many patients are in normal shoes and able to resume or increase physical activity.


Kent Biddinger, M.D., is one of the few fellowship-trained foot and ankle orthopedic surgeons in Michigan. In addition to doing ankle joint replacements and treating foot and ankle conditions, he also treats upper and lower extremity injuries and fractures. Dr. Biddinger’s special interests include complex surgical reconstruction and repair of foot and ankle disorders, and he is a nationally recognized expert in the field of surgical nerve decompression for diabetic neuropathy. He performs surgeries at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. For more information about Dr. Biddinger, contact his office at (989) 839-8850.

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Bone Bits: Bone Health Labs

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When a person has an unexpected bone fracture or has an abnormal Bone Density (DEXA) scan, the next step in assessing their bone health is to obtain some blood tests. The goals with testing are to determine whether a person has osteoporosis, has low bone mass, is menopausal or hormone-deficient, and/or has an underlying condition that may be causing increased bone loss.

Blood tests that may be ordered include: Continue reading.

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