Author Archives: MidMichigan Health

The Most Useful Pieces of Adaptive Equipment

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Occupational therapists strive to help their patients be as independent as possible with meaningful activities. Often times, when a patient sustains a bodily or neurological injury, they are left with weakness or paralysis. Other times, after a joint replacement or bone fracture, there are restrictions placed on the person that limits their safe movement.

Adaptive equipment presents a great way for occupational therapists to help people develop compensatory strategies in order to complete the tasks that are most meaningful to them. The items can be temporarily used until the person returns to their previous functional level, or they can be used indefinitely as a way for the patient to regain independence and control of their environment and self.

In my opinion, the top 10 most useful pieces of adaptive equipment are:

  • Built-up foam grips: These grips can be added to utensils to make the handles bigger, which helps people who’ve suffered from strokes, arthritis or hand weakness.
  • Long-handled reacher: These are great for getting dressed and managing the surrounding area around a person.
  • Sock aid: These allow people to get their socks on. It’s especially helpful for those who have had hip surgery with flexion precautions. Many people struggle to bend down for a variety of reasons, and this allows for the person to load the sock, and pull the sock on without leaving the seated position.
  • Universal cuff: This is a staple within the OT community. This cuff can substitute for grip dexterity and strength by strapping around the hand and allowing a utensil to be inserted. This way, the person can use the ability they have in their arm to feed themselves, brush their teeth, shave or comb their hair despite a weakened grip or dexterity. It’s often used in patients who have muscle atrophy or spinal cord injuries.
  • Scoop plate with suction pad: This is good to be used in tandem with a universal cuff, but can also be used on its own. It allows a person who has an upper extremity that is somehow affected to feed themselves with one hand, as the food can be pushed to one side for easier scooping. Models with a suction cup are nice, but otherwise using a non-slip material can help the plate not slide easily.
  • Adaptive cutting board: This is great for someone who is limited to one arm for functional use. It allows for the item to be fixated with the nails so chopping/slicing is easily accomplished. It can be used in a sitting or standing position.
  • Dycem (name brand non-slip material): This is another therapy staple, and a cost-effective, easy way to introduce more control with devices. It can be used as a grip to open jars. It can go underneath scoop plates so they don’t move on the table when eating. Basically, if you don’t want the item to slide, this material can be placed underneath to prohibit movement.
  • Elastic shoelaces: These are a great solution for those who struggle to tie their shoes. They can be used from pediatrics to geriatrics, and for anyone who might be struggling with hand weakness or dexterity issues. It can also be used for those who have cognitive delays or problems, so that the complex process of tying shoes can be bypassed.
  • Button hook/dressing aid: This is used to apply buttons with one hand when dexterity is an issue. Often they are equipped with a hook on the end that can be used to pull up a zipper.
  • Rocker knife: A great way to cut food with one hand. Often, this is used when the person does not have the strength to push/slice food conventionally. It can be used in tandem with the cutting board or scoop place, or normal plates.

Sam Penkala, O.T.R.L., is an occupational therapist at MidMichigan Health.

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What’s the Difference Between Occupational and Physical Therapy?

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While occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) might both be familiar terms, many of us aren’t quite sure of the difference between the two.

The role of a physical therapist is to diagnose and manage movement dysfunction and enhance physical and functional abilities. Their goal is to restore, maintain and promote not only optimal physical function but optimal wellness, fitness and quality of life as it relates to movement and health. In addition, a physical therapist works with his or her patients to prevent the onset, symptoms and progression of impairments, functional limitations and disabilities that may result from diseases, disorders, conditions or injuries.

Occupational therapists, as their name suggests, focus on occupations. Occupations aren’t just jobs, however. They’re meaningful activities that patients do in daily life. The goal of an OT is to get their patients regain skills to complete these occupations, as well as help them modify their occupations to make them achievable.

Some areas of occupations that an OT might focus on during treatment could include activities of daily living, rest and sleep, work, play, leisure and social participation. Daily activities can consist of anything from driving to shopping, managing finances, meal preparation, home management and more.

An OT will help patients focus on getting back to work, if that’s the goal. They’ll look at workplace ergonomics, and help patients prepare for any pertinent life changes.

Sam Penkala, O.T.R.L., is an occupational therapist at MidMichigan Health. Those who would like to learn more about MidMichigan’s comprehensive rehabilitation services, including PT and OT, may visit www.midmichigan.org/rehab.

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Important Facts about Sleep Health

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Scott Ross, M.D., family medicine physician, identifies some common issues that keep us from sleeping well and offers tips to help combat those problems that may affect our getting quality rest.

Q. How much sleep do adults really need?

A. On average, adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Some people feel best with eight consecutive hours, while others do well with six or seven and a nap.

Q. What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?

A. Short-term problems can include lack of alertness, impaired memory, relationship stress, diminished quality of life and a greater likelihood for car accidents. Long-term problems can become serious. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity and depression.

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My Child Walks on their Toes – Should I be Concerned?

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While toe walking is normal for periods during early walking, toe walking that persists greater than six months from mastery of walking could cause issues as a child develops. We don’t know why some children persist with toe walking.

Often, a child will have shortening of their heel cords, because they don’t stretch out when they walk. This tightness increases as a child grows. To compensate, they may turn their feet out, and start to stand and walk with their heels down.

If a child walks on their toes, it can lead to changes in their foot structure due to abnormal forces from landing on their forefoot. This in combination with heel cord tightness can lead to foot and knee pain as an adult.

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The Benefit of a Warm-up Program for Athletes

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It is well documented that a warm-up program that is implemented correctly, with good form, has the ability to reduce the amount of injuries in athletes. The WellSport team has sifted through some of this research and has developed a warm-up program that can be adapted for athletes in many different sports.

Athletic trainer Jared Slater, A.T.C., and Physical Therapist Jacob Hart, P.T., D.P.T. were instrumental in implementing this program within their community. In the spring of 2018, they began working with a high school girls soccer team. First, the athletes participated in a dynamic test so the team could see how their bodies responded to the normal demands of sports.

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What is the Rotator Cuff, and Why are There So Many Issues with it?

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So, what is the rotator cuff? Cup? Rotary cup? While most people have heard some form of the term rotator cuff, less really understand what it is, how it relates to shoulder function and why there are often so many issues involving it.

First of all, what is it? The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles in your shoulder. They are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor. All of these muscles attach from your scapula (shoulder blade) to your humerus (arm bone).

What does it do? The primary goal of the rotator cuff is to provide dynamic geometric centering of the humerus. In other words, your shoulder joint is a very shallow ball and socket joint. When you attempt to reach out and move your arm, the rotator cuff muscles work to keep the ball and socket of the joint in the correct position. Without this, when you try to reach overhead, for example, your humerus would rise up instead of staying in position. This can cause shoulder pain and impingement.

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When Should I Worry About the Shape of My Baby’s Head?

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Congenital torticollis is a shortening of the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle in the neck of infants. There is a small lump seen in the muscle at times. This can be genetic, or from the baby’s position in the womb. It’s commonly seen in twins or larger babies where space may be tight and the baby can’t move his or her head around as easily.

The SCM muscle performs two movements. It tips the head to one shoulder and turns it to the opposite shoulder. Most commonly, a doctor will notice a flattening on the back of the head on one side due to the baby keeping their head turned one way. The flattening may be worse in babies who spend a lot of time on their back, or in car seats and swings. As a baby’s head control improves, the tipping of the head to one side may become more noticeable.

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September is Pain Awareness Month

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Did you know that more people suffer from pain than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined?

Nearly one fourth of Americans suffer from pain annually, making pain the major driver of primary care physician visits.

There are various factors that cause and create pain, such as:

  • Family history. You may be more likely to develop arthritis and some other conditions if you have a family history of the disease/diagnosis.
  • Age. The risk of many types of diagnoses and pain injuries increases with age.
  • Gender. Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Previous injury. Some people who have experienced previous injuries have pain related to those injuries throughout their lives.
  • Obesity. Carrying excess pounds puts stress on joints, particularly your knees, hips and spine.
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Football Helmet Safety Tips

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There is a growing trend in high school and youth football where players are buying their own helmets for use at practices and games. Traditionally all equipment, including helmets, are provided by the youth programs or high schools where the athletes participate. The advantage of this is all helmets are required to be reconditioned following each season by a National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) approved provider.

All helmets are required to have completed NOCSAE inspection and meet their standards before they can be used in competition. NOCSAE requires “the complete disassembly of all helmet parts, cleaning, sanitizing, replacement of worn parts and shell inspection” before a helmet can be released for use in another season. Helmet use is limited to 10 consecutive seasons if the helmet has suffered no shell damage. Helmets purchased by an athlete will have to undergo the same reconditioning and receive the NOCSAE approved sticker before they can be used in competition.

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Strep Throat in Children

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Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus (group A strep). Overall, viruses are the most common cause of a sore throat. However, most viral infections are self-resolving.

How do people get this infection?

Group A strep live in the nose and throat and can easily spread to other people. It is important to know that all infected people do not have symptoms or seem sick. People who are infected spread the bacteria by coughing or sneezing, which creates small respiratory droplets that contain the bacteria.

People can get sick if they:

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