In this day and age, you’ve probably heard the term Occupational Therapy, but you may not be familiar with what it means. Is it the same as physical therapy? Not quite, but it does fall under the physical rehabilitation umbrella. Does it have to do with one’s job? Possibly, but not always.
Occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) are dedicated healthcare professionals who help people of all ages participate in activities and daily tasks that are meaningful and important to them.
Occupational therapy is a science-driven healthcare profession that examines the person, the environment, and the tasks the person desires to perform. The goal is to restore the person’s function or adapt the task or environment for optimal performance.
Who can benefit from Occupational Therapy (OT) services?
OT can help anyone experiencing difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs). These difficulties might be due to an injury such as a broken wrist or a recent illness or hospitalization that resulted in general weakness and fatigue.
Some activities that might benefit from OT are:
Other tasks that are meaningful and important to the person
Occupational therapist can also help with chronic health conditions such as, arthritis, COPD, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease that have impacted a person’s physical or cognitive ability to complete daily tasks.
What will an occupational therapist do?
The OT will start with an evaluation to collect information on your health history, current limitations, and goals for therapy. From there they will develop an individualized plan of care to help you achieve these goals.
Interventions could include:
Exercises or stretches to help you gain strength or range of motion
Adaptive equipment education and training
Safety training and education
Suggestions for home modifications or activity modifications to help you better perform specific activities.
Our OT’s at The Rehabilitation Center also have specialized training in lymphedema treatment and management, pelvic health issues or concerns, ergonomics assessments and interventions, and aquatic therapy interventions.
Having difficulty with something you want to do or need to do?
We have a team of OTs and OTAs at The Rehabilitation Center who are here to help you achieve your goals. If you have questions or want to know if you could benefit from Occupational Therapy Services, call our office at (828) 268-9043.
Setting up your home office for optimal performance and decreased musculoskeletal strain
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted almost every aspect of our lives since early 2020, and work life is a significant part of that. Many who had previously commuted to an office location every day found themselves suddenly working from home in varying conditions.
Although sitting on the comfy couch in your pajamas might sound like a more comfortable way to work, you are at risk for musculoskeletal strain or pain from awkward sitting postures. Here are some tips for setting up a home office and preventing pain and injuries.
There are three main elements of office and workplace ergonomics:
Workstation/desk for keyboard and mouse
Monitor or computer screen
1. Choose the right chair
Your body will thank you for investing in a proper desk chair. Although a chair from the kitchen table can work for short term (1-2 weeks), it’s worth investing in an adjustable office chair if you will be working remotely for a longer time.
An optimal office chair will:
have some adjustable features for height, seat pan depth, tilt, arm rests, and head rests.
provide support at your lumbar (low back).
allow for your feet to rest flat on the floor.
If your feet do not touch the floor, a small stool or box can be used to allow for foot support. Additionally, there should not be any pressure from the edge of the chair on the backs of your knees.
2. Set up your workstation or desk
An ideal workstation should:
be adjustable so that you can sit or stand throughout the day.
have a “waterfall” or smooth edge – sharp edges put pressure on your wrists. Pipe insulation or other padding can be used to cover sharp edges if necessary.
be large enough to accommodate a keyboard, mouse, document holder, and monitor. If you are working from a laptop, an external keyboard and mouse are recommended.
The height of the workstation (keyboard and mouse) should allow for a neutral arm position with elbows at approximately 90 degrees. Measure from your elbow to the floor and subtract 2-3 inches for optimal placement.
There are many options for an external keyboard and mouse; they are not one-size-fits-all. Find a keyboard and mouse that allow your wrists to sit in a neutral position and avoid extreme or awkward positions (bending the wrist too far in any direction). The size of the keyboard and mouse should be a good fit for the size of your hands.
3. Place your monitor or computer screen
Your monitor or computer screen should be placed:
at the correct distance from your eyes to reduce eye strain and forced positioning of the head.
at the correct height to avoid neck pain.
in a position that reduces glare from natural and artificial light.
A monitor should be about arm’s length or 20-36 inches away from your body, depending on font size, number of screens, and your eyesight. If you find yourself constantly leaning forward to see the monitor, it is too far away; or you need to make the font size on the monitor larger.
The height of the monitor should allow for a neutral head position to reduce strain on your neck. You don’t need a fancy solution; a stack of paper, books, or small box is an easy way to adjust the monitor if it is too low.
Reducing glare can help reduce eye strain or engaging in awkward postures to see the monitor more clearly. Monitors should be placed perpendicular to windows if possible, and indirect lighting is recommended to help reduce glare. If overhead light is the cause of glare on the monitor, consider using a task light as needed. To give your eyes a break, every 20 minutes take 20 seconds to look at an object at least 20 feet away.
Considerations for dual monitors: If you use both monitors equally, center them in front of you. You may need to move the monitors further away so that both screens are within your central field of vision. You shouldn’t have to rotate your neck repeatedly to look between the two monitors. If you use one monitor primarily and the other monitor occasionally, center the monitor you use the most in front of you.
4. Develop healthy work-from-home habits
Once you have your home office set-up, remember to take breaks and change positions throughout the day. Small breaks, changing positions, and standing up for a stretch break can increase blood flow, reduce the risk of injury, and decrease fatigue.
Yes, The Rehabilitation Center can help you with your home office.
If you are experiencing discomfort, overuse injuries or muscle strains from your current work station set-up, the occupational therapists at The Rehabilitation Center can provide an assessment and recommendations specifically for you. Give them a call at 828-238-9043.
Author: Lauren Hutchins, MS OTR/L, The Rehabilitation Center
Balance…we search for it in our everyday lives. Juggling work, family, and after school activities can figuratively make your head spin. But if you feel that your head is literally spinning then you may want to sit down and take a few moments to look over the causes and treatments of balance disorders.
A balance disorder is a condition that makes you feel unsteady as if you are moving or spinning even though you are standing still or lying down.
Various studies indicate that “dizziness” is among the three most common complaints encountered in the primary care setting, sharing equal time with headaches and lower back pain. Over the age of 75, it is the number one reason for an office visit and hospital admission. As the population ages, the total number of complaints regarding balance disorders is likely to increase.
Different people will experience different symptoms
Some people may experience frequent falls or loss of balance.
Some people may report blurry vision, especially when looking for items at the supermarket. They may also be unable to read signs while driving.
Some people may feel dizziness or vertigo when lying down, getting up, looking up/down, or bending over to retrieve objects from the floor.
Some people may experience lightheadedness, faintness, or a floating sensation.
Other people may experience confusion or disorientation.
The most common causes of a balance disorders
Cardiac problems – individuals with cardiovascular disease who have difficulty with blood supply to the brain or to the lower extremities may experience balance issues.
Impaired vision – especially at night when there is less light.
Inner ear problems or damage to any of the vestibular system apparatus – will affect the way the vestibular system responds to the challenges of the environment you are in.
Central nervous system diseases – balance disorders are common in diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Head injury – even a mild head trauma such as getting hit in the head with a ball while playing sports may cause you to experience episodes of dizziness or balance problems.
Peripheral nerve injury – peripheral neuropathy as a result of diabetes or other type of nerve damage in the legs will negatively impact your balance.
Muscular weakness – such as lower extremity weakness will increase your risk for falls.
Medication – it is very important to check with your pharmacist regarding the side effects of or interaction of medications, since many medications may cause dizziness or lightheadedness.
As you can see, there are many potential causes of a balance disorder – including medical conditions and medications. That is why you should consult with your provider to rule out a more serious medical condition as the cause of your symptoms. If the cause is a medical condition or medication, your provider may treat the condition or suggest a different medication. Your provider may also suggest that you see an ENT doctor (physician who specializes in the ear, nose, and throat) or refer you to a physical therapist specializing in treating balance disorders.
If you are referred to a physical therapist here are a few things that you should expect. The physical therapist will perform an initial evaluation starting with an interview and then will ask you about events that may have caused the problem or when you first experienced the symptoms; ask you to describe the symptoms, when they occur, what alleviates or makes them worse, and so forth. Questions will be asked about your medical history to see if it may contribute to your balance problem. You will also be asked about medications you are taking which may contribute to some of the symptoms previously discussed.
How a physical therapist can help
The physical therapist will perform:
Functional tests to assess your ability to perform functional tasks such as walking on uneven terrain, making turns and moving your head while walking, ascending/descending stairs, looking up and looking down, and bending over to retrieve objects.
Positional tests to assess your ability to perform transitional movements such as sitting to lying down, lying down to sitting, rolling to right/left when lying down.
Assessment of the systems of balance. The physical therapist will perform a systematic evaluation of the visual system, the somatosensory system, and the vestibular system.
Assessment of other systems such as your coordination, strength, flexibility, and sensation – especially in the lower extremities.
Once the physical therapist completes the initial evaluation, he/she will discuss the findings with you. The physical therapist will talk about your rehabilitation potential; then, will inform you about the rehabilitation program and develop a customized plan of care.
The plan of care will vary according to your needs. The frequency of treatment may be once or a couple of times a week, depending on your particular condition. Some exercises are done at the clinic and some are done at home. The physical therapist works closely with you. Adhering to the treatment program is the key to getting better, improving your balance, and being able to do more.
If you are suffering with balance issues, contact The Rehabilitation Center to see how physical therapy could help you.
Dry needling doesn’t sound like a fun day at the park but intramuscular stimulation, as it is sometimes called, is a treatment used to target and restore muscle function while reducing muscle pain. During dry needling, a practitioner inserts several filiform needles into your skin. Filiform needles are fine, short, stainless steel needles that don’t inject fluid into the body. That’s why the term “dry” is used.
What happens during Dry Needling?
Practitioners place the needles in “trigger points” in your muscle. The points are areas of knotted or hard muscle. The technique may help release the knot and relieve any muscle pain, spams, or stiffness by improving blood flow and diminishing nerve sensitivity. In addition, easing the trigger points may improve flexibility and increase range of motion. That’s why this method is often used to treat sports injuries, muscle pain, and even fibromyalgia pain.
Is it the same as acupuncture?
Dry needling is not acupuncture, a practice based on traditional Chinese medicine and performed by acupuncturists. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the use of “meridians,” “pulses,” or “chi” drawn from ancient Chinese medicine and philosophy. Dry needling is a part of modern Western medicine principles, and supported by research accepted by physicians in the United States.
What can Dry Needling treat?
Evidence suggests the use of dry needling in treating many conditions seen by physical therapists such as:
chronic neck and back pain
carpal tunnel syndrome
trigger point pain
Dry needling should not be seen as a replacement for physical therapy. However, it is a very beneficial complement to physical therapy treatment as it can restore muscle function and reduce muscle pain.
If suffering with these conditions, contact The Rehabilitation Center to see if dry needling is right for you.
Dunning J., Butts R., Mourad F., Young I., Flannagan S., Perreault T. Dry Needling: A Literature Review with Implications for Clinical Practice Guidelines. Phys. Ther. Rev. 2014;19:252–265. doi: 10.1179/108331913X13844245102034.
The Rehabilitation Center is dedicated to practicing Physical and Occupational Therapy within an evidence-based, clinical practice paradigm. Our goal is to offer high quality service to all patients with the expectation of improving function and quality of life. In support of our mission, The Rehabilitation Center staff is actively engaged in continuing education and clinical competency reviews. We offer a full range of services including functional employment testing.
Employers: We are a WorkSTEPS Licensed Provider
The Rehabilitation Center therapists are trained and licensed to administer WorkSTEPS functional employment testing for your employees. We offer these services at our Boone location.
Rehabilitation Supervisor for TRC Boone and Linville
Education: Bachelors in Health Sciences and Masters of Physical Therapy – Misericordia University 2002
Special Training / Certifications: Certified Lymphedema Therapist 2009
Clinical Interest / Specialty Area: Orthopedics, Post-surgical rehab, Low back pain and neck pain, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Cancer-related rehab
Scott R Albert, DPT
The Rehabilitation Center Boone
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Health Sciences 2008, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH; Doctor of Physical Therapy 2011, Gannon University, Erie, PA
Clinical Interest / Specialty Area:Orthopedic Rehabilitation: shoulder, knee, hip and ankle, Post-Operative Rehabilitation, Aquatic Physical Therapy, Total Joint Rehabilitation, Balance, Generalized deconditioning and loss of functional mobility
Elizabeth Ardoin, PT
Education: MS Physical Therapy – Duke University, 1997, BS Biology – Clemson University, 1992
Special Training / Certifications: Vestibular Rehab, NDT Training
Special Training / Certifications: Certified Lymphedema Therapist – Dr. Vodder School, Licensed by Lymphology Association of North America (LANA), Women’s Health Training – Herman and Wallace
Clinical Interest / Specialty Area: Lymphedema Treatment including manual lymphatic drainage, compressions garments, and aquatic therapy; Oncology and Breast Healthcare; Women’s Health / Pelvic Pain Care / Urinary Incontinence; Hand Therapy; Neurological Rehab (CVA and Brain Injury)
Katherine Graham, PT, MA
Education: BS in Physical Therapy – UNC- Chapel Hill, MA Clinical Psychology with minor in Rehabilitation Psychology
Special Training / Certifications: NDT Adult Hemiplegia Certification, Advanced Vestibular Rehab APTA, LSVT BIG Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease, Licensed Psychological Associate
Education: BS – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Special Training / Certifications: NDT Certified – Pediatrics
Clinical Interest / Specialty Area: Neurology, CVA, Pediatrics, Low back and neck pain
Maritza Greene, PT, DPT
Education: BSPT – Winston Salem State 2001, Doctorate of Physical Therapy – Evidence in Motion 2015
Special Training / Certifications: Women’s Health, Orthopaedics Pre/post surgical orthopedic intervention, Lumbar and Cervical spine, Chronic Pain, General Health Coaching intervention
Clinical Interest / Specialty Area:
Lauren Hutchins, MS OTR/L
Education: Bachelor of Science-2005: Murray State University, Master of Science-Emergency Management-2005: Jacksonville State University, Master of Science-Occupational Therapy-2013: University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
Special Training/Certifications:Certified Ergonomics Assessment Specialist, The Back School, WorkSteps
Clinical Interests/ Specialty: Ergonomics Assessment and Modifications, Neurological Rehabilitation (Parkinson’s, CVA, Brain Injuries), Assessment and treatment of deficits in activities of daily living, Assessment and treatment of injuries and impairments of the upper extremities
Charlie Hypes, PT
Education: Bachelor of Science – East Carolina University 1985
Education: East Carolina University BS Exercise Physiology 2016, Doctor of Physical Therapy 2019
Special Training/Certifications: Bioness, Wheelchair Seating and Mobility
Clinical Interests: Neurologic and Orthopedic populations
Flavio Leite, PT, DPT
Education: Doctorate of Physical Therapy – Nova Southeastern University, 2016, Master in Physical Therapy – Nova Southeastern University, 1998, AS Physical Therapist Assistant – Miami Dade College, 1996, BA Architecture – University of Miami, 1992
Special Training / Certifications: Vestibular Rehabilitation Certification – Emory University, NDT Certification – Management of Adults with Stroke and Brain Injury – NDTA
Education: BS in Exercise Physiology from University of Florida – 2001, DPT from Duke University – 2005
Special Training/Certifications: APTA Certified Clinical Instructor
Clinical Interests/ Specialty Area: General Orthopedics, hypermobility, all patients who laugh at my jokes
Michael Moore PT, DPT
Education: Bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from ASU 2015, Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Western Carolina University 2019, Certified in Dry Needling through the American Academy of Manual Therapy
Clinical Interests: Orthopedic and Sports Rehab
Heather Pannill, DPT
Education: BS in Athletic Training – Appalachian State University 2013, Doctorate of Physical Therapy – Winston-Salem State University 2016
Special Training/Certifications: Certified Athletic Trainer, APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor
Education:, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, minor Spanish – University of Tennessee 2001, Master of Physical Therapy – Western Carolina University 2007, Doctor of Physical Therapy – Arcadia University 2012
Special Training/Certifications: Certified Clinical Instructor, APTA
Education: Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant studies – Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, May 2013, Bachelor of Science in Art Education – Appalachian State University, December 2008
Special Training/Certifications: Myofascial Release
Clinical Interests/Specialty Area: Pre- and post-operative joint replacements; balance training.
Rebecca Westveer, PT
Education: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Master of Physical Therapy – 2001, Appalachian State University – Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, Minor in Psychology – 1999
Special Training/Certifications: Advanced training in Orthopedic diagnosis and treatment