Don’t Walk the Plank!

By Riva Preil

The campaign against texting while driving is in full swing and (hopefully) being adhered to by the masses. However, texting while WALKING is a conversation that has largely been unaddressed…until now.  On February 23, 2014, an article in the magazine section of the New York Times reported a very interesting study that assessed the musculoskeletal effects of texting while walking.

Participants were divided into three groups, a group that walked normally undistracted, a group that read a long text message while walking, and a group that texted “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” while walking.  It was not surprising that the gait pattern of the texters was significantly altered and contorted compared to the non-texting groups.  According to the article, the texters “began to walk with a more upright and rigid body position.  Their heads froze into cocked and largely unchanging positions, eyes on the screen, chins bent toward their chests.  Their necks and lower back joints had significantly less range of motion.”  In addition, they walked with an overall stiffness, decreased fluidity, tightened pelvic joints, and decreased reciprocal arm swing.  In other words, they were a walking hot mess of biomechanical misalignment.  The primary short term effect of walking with distorted ambulation is increased fall risk.  The long term effect is that it can create chronic neck and shoulder pain, tightness, and decreased range of motion.  Therefore, the physical therapist in me wants to start a “No texting while walking” campaign.  However the realist in me suggests to at least be more mindful of your posture and body mechanics if you insist on texting while walking.  Furthermore, try to stretch your neck forward and backward in between texts, and of course try to avoid crashing into other people or objects.


Kicking Cancer and Acquiring Continence

By Riva Preil

Gynecologic cancer is cancer that originates in a woman’s reproductive organs. The five types of gynecologic cancers are cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer.  Each year in the United States, approximately 71,500 women are diagnosed with gynecologic cancer, and the risk of developing gynecological cancer increases with age.

Fortunately, advances in medical technology and treatment, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgical interventions, have helped women survive gynecological cancers.  However, the urologic system and pelvic floor undergo “trauma” en route to health, and many survivors of gynecologic cancers experience urinary incontinence.  A recent study examined the effects of a pelvic floor strengthening program among gynecological cancer survivors as an approach to decrease urinary incontinence.  Researchers worked with 40 cancer survivors (60% uterine cancer, 40% other gynecological cancers) who experienced urinary incontinence after their cancer treatment.  Participants were randomly to an experimental group and a control group.  The experimental group participated in a pelvic floor muscle (PFM) strengthening exercises (aka Kegel exercises) 22 days of the month for three months.  The control group did not participate in any targeted PFM exercises.  After three months, 80% of the experimental group (compared to only 40% of the control group) reported significant improvements in their urinary incontinence.  Once again, the research speaks for itself- PFM strengthening programs benefit many segments of the population, including gynecological cancer survivors.  We here at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy are trained to teach PFM strengthening exercises and to progress the level of challenge.  Please call us if you have any questions about whether pelvic floor physical therapy is appropriate for you.


Winter Weather Wisdom

By Riva Preil

“Frozen” means more to us than the title of one of this year’s most popular movies- it also represents the way many of us have been feeling thermostatically due to the EXTREMELY cold weather!  While the cold and snow are annoying, I feel responsible as a health care provider to address the HEALTH RISKS presented by the weather conditions.

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), older adults are especially susceptible to weather related risks, such as hypothermia.  This is due to the fact that their bodies are less equipped to respond to cold weather and their impaired self-regulation capabilities (either due to underlying medical conditions or medications that they are taking).  The signs of hypothermia include slurred or slowed speech, drowsiness, confusion, shivering, stiff extremities, slowed reaction time, poor motor control, and/or weak pulse.

The tips recommended by the NIA for older adults are applicable to one and all…well, at least those of us not living in Los Angeles or Miami.  The NIA advises adequate home heating- temperatures should be set to at least 68 degrees.  Furthermore, multiple layers should be worn, including socks and slippers, even around the house.  (My personal favorite find of the season is fleece lined leggings!)  For those who must brave the outdoor weather, please remember to wear a hat, scarf, and gloves to prevent body heat from escaping though the head and hands.  Furthermore, individuals with impaired balance should be especially careful on the ice and snow.  Appropriate assistive devices (ex. straight cane) should be used at all times, even if you are just taking the garbage out to the corner!  Fall prevention is one of the most important steps (pun intended) towards maintaining health in the older adult population.  Hopefully, all of the aforementioned advice will be irrelevant soon, because we will be busy discussing summer sun safety instead.  Until then, I hope this brief overview has been helpful.  May we all be “chilling” out on the beach very soon- the best type of frozen that exists!

What Happens in Vegas Returns to New York

By Riva Preil

After spending three days last week at Combined Sections Meeting (CSM), the American Physical Therapy Association’s annual conference, I am overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of PRIDE and PRIVILEGE that I feel to be a physical therapist.  Approximately 10,000 physical therapists gathered at the Venetian in Las Vegas from across the country to learn, develop profession skills, share research, and network.  I have personally never attended a conference of such a large magnitude!  Physical therapists from many different specialties, including pediatric, geriatric, aquatic P.T., home care, and of, course, pelvic floor, came together to attend lectures relating to their area of expertise.

As a pelvic floor physical therapist, I had the opportunity to attend many fascinating and important lectures, including the effects of estrogen hormone replacement therapy on the musculoskeletal system, a diastasis rectus correction class, effective interviewing for pelvic floor practitioners, and psychosocial considerations of pregnant and post partum women.  In addition, I attended a lecture taught by several physical therapists who spent time treating underprivileged women in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, who suffered from obstetric and traumatic fistulas.  Also, I thoroughly enjoyed a two part session that was taught by Dr. David Butler and Dr. Lorimer Moseley, authors of Explain Pain.  Butler and Moseley shared their latest research findings on how our brain interprets pain and how various pain pathways are created and reinforced within the neurologic system. Their research has shown that individuals who UNDERSTAND the science behind their pain can better cope with and control their pain symptoms.  They encouraged us, an audience full of physical therapists, to explain the mechanism of pain to our patients as much as possible to offer each patient improved levels of control.

Furthermore, the conference featured poster presentations with the latest research discoveries.  I was especially interested in the research of Dr. Chiarello, PT, PhD at Columbia University, which was on Diastasis Rectus Abdominis and Function in Pregnancy.  Dr. Chiarello was joined at the poster presentation by Dr. Stephanie Stamas, a former student physical therapist at BBPT, who helped Dr. Chiarello with her research.  The overall exchange of information, sharing of knowledge, and professional networking during the conference was incredible.  CSM was a rewarding and enlightening experience, and I hope to have the opportunity to participate in future similar courses.

Below: Me and Stephanie at CSM; the CSM conference



Your Voices: Alliance for Pelvic Pain Testimonial II

Due to the cold and snowy winter we are having, with no end in sight, and rough traveling, especially for people with chronic pelvic pain, we are moving the NYC weekend retreat to the nice warm springtime, the weekend of May 31- June 1.  Join us then, and take a look at another testimonial from the retreat!

1. Which aspect(s) of the retreat do you feel benefited you the most?
The most beneficial aspects were the physical therapy exercises and workshops. Although the classes were large, the instructors still offered great personalized (and general) advice that is less effective in a print format. A close second was the mind-body workshop with Alex. It was also heart-warming to hear people’s stories; I was so glad to meet people I could finally relate to.

2. Did you use new information you received to pursue different medical or complementary treatments in the last 6 months? If yes, which treatments did you seek out and participate in?
I utilized some of the PT exercises we learned, since I don’t have access to such services where I live. I also follow Alex’s instruction on meditation throughout the day.

3. Have you made changes in your lifestyle or habits because of what you learned at the retreat?
I already changed a lot of habits before the retreat, so not really. I generally try to minimize stress.

4. Would you recommend our retreat to another person with chronic pain?

Yoga at Beyond Basics

Yoga is new to Beyond Basics! Read on to learn more about our new program, and be sure attend our Yoga Open House on Monday, February 10 to learn even more!

By Anne Taylor

In the Beyond Basics Physical Therapy yoga classes, you will learn simple postures,  meditation, breath work and progressive relaxation techniques to promote a renewed sense of comfort and ease for the body and the mind.

Anne Taylor
Anne has been working with Beyond Basics patients for 8 years. Anne completed her first yoga certification at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and in 2003. Anne subsequently completed an additional training and apprenticeship in yoga therapeutics with bio-psychologist Bo Forbes, PsyD as well as an additional assistantship with 30+ year veteran Iyengar Yoga teacher Genny Kapuler. Anne also completed an advanced training with the TKV Desikachar trained yoga therapist, Guta Hedwig, as well as a 9 month yoga anatomy training with Leslie Kaminoff at The Breathing Project. Anne seeks to combine alignment and breath work as a means to recalibrate the nervous system to promote optimal health and healing for all.

Descriptions of yoga services – fees and descriptions

1:1 sessions $100/hour:
Each session is designed to work in conjunction with the treating physical therapist to support healthy functioning of the pelvic floor. Therapeutic sequences designed specifically to reduce anxiety and physical pain responses typically evidenced in persons with chronic pain. Evaluation of postural alignment as a means to promote body awareness and optimal musculoskeletal health.

Small group sessions $100 for 4 part series or $30 for drop-ins:
Small group feature sequences designed to promote muscle relaxation and overall stress reduction. Small group sessions are limited to 6 participants and run in 4 week series.  Pre-registration is required and the cost is non-refundable.  A minimum of 3 participants per class is required for each series and dates/times coordinated with interested parties. Drop-ins are also welcome contingent upon space availability.

A 24-hour cancellation policy is strictly enforced for the 1:1 sessions. Clients who are unable to cancel within 24 hours of the scheduled appointment will be responsible for the full cost of the missed session.

Individuals wishing to arrange 1:1 sessions and/or to participate in group classes should contact Anne via telephone or email.

phone 646-942-2153