Obesity is a major health crisis in the U.S., as almost two-thirds of Americans are currently overweight or obese, and 300,000 people die every year due to obesity and obesity-related diseases like diabetes. For this reason, several medical organizations have developed specific programs to decrease the rate of obesity and diabetes, but not all programs have been successful. To better guide medical professionals who deal with these types of patients, a paper was released that highlighted the most important characteristics of an effective prevention program. The program consisted of guidance from a lifestyle coach, 24 weeks of a Mediterranean-style diet, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week and walking 10,000 steps a day. The prevention program was found to be effective, as there was a 58% reduction in the rate of diabetes in participants compared to groups that received placebo or medications only. Those who are at risk for developing diabetes (prediabetics) should therefore seek out guidance from a medical professional and follow a similar prevention program in order to reduce their risk.
Being physically active on a regular basis is beneficial and has a protective effect against many diseases and health conditions, but it’s not clear how this effect differs based on the amount of physical activity achieved. To investigate this in more detail, a powerful pair of studies called a systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted. The systematic review gathered all of the highest-quality evidence on the topic available, and the meta-analysis compared the findings of these studies to one another to establish a conclusion. Results showed that higher levels of total physical activity were associated with a lower risk for five health conditions studied, but these benefits level off after a certain point. Individuals should therefore strive to achieve an ideal amount of physical activity each week in order to obtain the most benefits, but have a limit so they don’t overwork themselves.
The cost of health care is continuing to rise throughout the world, and millions of Americans either don’t have insurance or are not satisfied with their plan. One concept that plays a major role in bringing down costs is called cost-effectiveness, which essentially determines how much someone is getting out of a treatment based on how expensive it is. Physical therapy is considered by many to be cost-effective, but studies are lacking that clearly illustrate this. Therefore a powerful study called a systematic review was conducted, and results showed that physical therapy—either on its own or added to usual care—led to improved overall health and was in fact cost-effective. More than half of the studies reviewed supported physical therapy as a cost-effective treatment, and it should therefore be recommended to any individuals dealing with either short- or long-term pain.
The majority of Americans spend far too much time sitting every day, mainly due to the prevalence of desk jobs. Studies are now continuing to show how dangerous this type of behavior can be, and that it can contribute to health conditions like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. One method that has been suggested to address this problem is to use desks that can be switched to a standing mode at offices, which will encourage employees to stand more. For this reason, a study was conducted to determine what type of effect having these desks would have on the individuals using them. The results showed that the workers who were using these “stand-capable” desks were more productive than those using the standard seated desks. This study can serve as a precedent and hopefully encourage more businesses to strongly consider using these types of desks in their offices.
Hallux valgus is a deformity of the foot that leads to a growth of bone on the side of the big toe, which is called a bunion. About 64 million Americans have bunions, and they are most common in older females. Surgery is currently the only treatment available to correct bunions, but in about 15% of patients who have surgery, the bunion returns in the future. Instead of surgery, another approach is to have patients perform a variety of strengthening exercises for the muscles in the foot, which can reduce pain and help patients walk more easily. To highlight the importance of this alternative to surgery, a paper was published that explained some of the most effective strengthening exercises for bunions. The paper recommends completing an exercise-training program to increase strength and the ability to produce force with the foot at least once a day, which can be taught to patients by physical therapists.
More than 550,000 Americans die each year of some form of cancer, which is the second leading cause of death in the country. In addition to finding better ways to treat and diagnose cancer, many efforts are also ongoing to find ways to prevent it. One factor that may help with prevention efforts is increasing physical activity levels. Physical activity is know to reduce the risk of heart disease, colon, breast and endometrial cancer, and a number of other conditions, but it’s not clear how it affects one’s chances of developing all other cancers. Therefore, a study was conducted to more thoroughly investigate the connection between physical activity and 26 different types of cancer. Results from 12 studies with data on 1.44 million individuals showed that a higher level of physical activity was associated with a lower risk of 13 of the 26 cancers evaluated. This study—the largest of its type ever performed—provides clear evidence that physical activity is not only good for you, but it may also reduce your risk for cancer.
Spending most of the day sitting on a regular basis is now well known to lead to various health-related issues. Walking, on the other hand, has a positive impact on overall health, and doing so for as little as 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk for many health conditions. With this in mind, walking meetings have been growing in popularity in recent times. Although this concept has been around for a while, no studies have been performed to investigate its effects on physical activity yet. Therefore, a study was conducted in the workplace setting. Results showed that participants increased the amount of time engaged in physical activity during weeks in which they used walking meetings. The study also showed that walking meetings were feasible and well received by the participants, which should encourage businesses to consider using this type of strategy to improve physical activity levels.
Hip fractures are very common injuries in the elderly population, and they are often severe. Most older individuals that fracture their hip are treated with surgery, but only about 30% of them patients regain the same level of physical function as before. Following surgery, many patients go through rehabilitation that’s designed to improve their mobility and function and help them move normally again. One type of rehabilitation commonly used is called structured exercise, but it’s not clear if this approach actually improves patient’s overall mobility. For this reason, a powerful pair of studies called a systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted, which assessed 13 high-quality studies on the topic. The outcomes showed that structured exercise does in fact help patients improve after surgery for hip fracture, and the most effective programs were those that used resistance—like weights and resistance bands—and took place outside of a hospital. Rehabilitation programs that incorporate these elements should therefore be used for these patients to help them recover as quickly and completely as possible.
Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs from a forceful, back-and-forth movement of the neck. It often leads to pain and stiffness that can last for a while, and about 50% of patients that have a whiplash injury experience symptoms for more than one year. When it comes to treating these patients, many are told to remain physically active and perform general exercises for their pain, even though research has shown that specific exercises for the neck are more effective. Since this topic has not been investigated in much detail, a study was conducted that compared multiple different approaches for patients with whiplash symptoms. Results showed that neck-specific exercises helped patients improve more than general physical activity, as previous studies have already shown. For this reason, patients dealing with symptoms from a whiplash injury should be treated with these types of exercises from a physical therapist rather than being told to keep to a general exercise regimen.
About 62% of American women regularly wear shoes with a heel of two inches or greater, which is not recommended because it can be dangerous and lead to various types of injuries. These precautions regarding high heels have been given for some time, but it’s not known if they have affected the rate of injuries, so a study was conducted to investigate this matter. Results showed that over 11 years, the rate of injuries related to high heels increased by about 82%, with the total number of actual injuries nearly doubling. This shows that high heel-related injuries have been on the rise, and that wearing high heels increases the risk for an ankle or foot injury. Those who wear high heels should therefore be aware of these dangers, and make efforts to reduce their risk by avoiding ultra-high heels and wearing their correct size.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful disorder that affects up to 11.7% of the U.S. population, and it occurs when a nerve in the wrist is compressed. Treatment for this condition may consist of surgery or may be conservative (non-surgical), but the scientific evidence to support both approaches is conflicting. Manual therapy, in which a physical therapist uses their hands to move and manipulate joints, may be effective for carpal tunnel syndrome; however, it has not been studied well or compared to surgery. For this reason, a powerful study called a randomized-controlled trial was conducted to compare both treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome. After three months, patients who received manual therapy experienced greater relief of symptoms and improved hand function than those who had surgery. After 12 months, these differences were less noticeable, and most patients had a successful outcome. Due to the fact that surgery costs more and can lead to more complications, and since both treatments led to similar results, manual therapy appears to be the better choice for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Fibromyalgia is a long-lasting condition in which patients typically experience pain, fatigue, disrupted sleep and issues with thinking clearly. Patients with fibromyalgia are usually treated with aerobic exercise and strength training, which have been found to lead to significant improvements for them; however, some fibromyalgia patients also have problems with balance, and balance training is recommended for them as well. A powerful study was therefore conducted to compare aerobic exercise to balance training for treating fibromyalgia patients, and results showed that both programs led to positive effects, but the aerobic exercise group experienced greater overall benefits. While this study does show that aerobic exercise may be superior, it also highlights that balance training is in fact an effective intervention for these patients, and that it may serve an important role in reducing falls for those with fibromyalgia.
Type 2 diabetes is a common disorder in which the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or the body can’t use insulin well enough, which can cause many physical problems. Due to the fact that it’s associated with being overweight or obese and lack of physical activity, exercise is regarded as the treatment of choice for these patients, and has been found to lead to many benefits. It’s possible that aquatic exercise – which is performed underwater—may be ideal for some type 2 diabetics since it’s easier on joints, and a study was conducted to investigate this matter. Results showed that patients experienced a number of both physical and emotional improvements after the aquatic exercise program, including decreased blood glucose values, increased ability to breathe, reduced blood pressure and better quality of life. These findings suggest that an aquatic exercise program seems to be safe and effective for men with type 2 diabetes, and it should be strongly considered for these patients, especially if their condition makes it difficult to exercise on land.
Falls and injuries that may result from them are one of the leading causes of disability for older adults, and with age, the risk for experiencing a fall increases as balance and other functional abilities begin to decrease. Osteoporosis, in which bones become fragile and more likely to break, is also common in older adults and can increase the risk of falling even more. To address these at-risk older adults, a study was conducted in which a balance-training program was used to determine its impact. Results showed that the program led to a number of benefits, including faster walking speed, better balance and physical function, and a more positive beliefs regarding fall risk.
Following many types of surgeries, some patients may experience diminished physical abilities and reduced quality of life as a result, which may extend their recovery process. One possible solution to this problem is called prehabilitation, in which physical therapy and exercises that target specific muscles are employed before surgery to help patients recover quicker afterwards. Some evidence supports this strategy, but the quality is lacking, which led to a systematic review on all available literature. Findings from this review revealed a fair amount of literature in support of prehabilitation, but it was not of the highest quality and this calls for additional research to evaluate this intervention in greater detail to be more certain of the effects of prehabilitation.
Access to information has never been easier, but when it comes to health-related data, that can also prove to be dangerous if you don’t understand what you’re reading. While many health news sites are legitimate, some may fail to provide all details of a story, which may lead to a false impression of findings. Therefore, as a reader of any health-related content, you should always be aware of these pitfalls and ask certain questions (e.g., was the study performed on humans; how many people were included in the study; were there any conflicts of interest or limitations) to ensure you’re getting the whole story. Read on for more information about how you can safely and efficiently navigate the world of health news.
About 795,000 people experience a stroke each year in the U.S., and that figure is only expected to rise as our aging population grows. The main goal of stroke recovery is usually focused on regaining the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing and eating independently. Physical therapy is often recommended as an effective treatment to help accomplish these goals, but some of the guidelines regarding the best form of physical therapy are outdated and in need of new research. For this reason, a review was conducted to better understand the details of stroke rehabilitation. Results showed that physical therapy can still be considered effective for treating stroke patients, and that training patients to perform specific tasks with high amounts of repetition is the most beneficial approach to rehab.
As many as 54 million Americans experience problems with their muscles or bones every year, and one of the most popular and effective ways to treat these conditions is through physical therapy. To receive treatment from a physical therapist, patients can either be referred by a physician or go directly to a physical therapy practice, which is called direct access. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they have this second option and wait for a referral from a physician instead. To point out the benefits of direct access, a study reviewed all the literature comparing the two options and found that patients who used direct access experienced better outcomes, lower costs, fewer visits and less average pain after discharge from treatment over physician referral. For these reasons, anyone looking for treatment from a physical therapist should be conscious of their options and know the many benefits that direct access provides over referral from a physician.
Following a hip replacement, or total hip arthroplasty (THA), patients are usually sent to a physical therapist to help bring back their strength and range of motion. Though most reports of this rehabilitation process are positive, there is no clear evidence of how satisfied patients are with their long-term progress. To get a better sense of this, a survey was given out to patients asking them how satisfied they were with their outcomes from therapy after surgery. Most patients (76%) were satisfied with their physical therapy experience and their overall improvement. For those who were not satisfied, it appeared they either didn’t spend enough time, have long enough sessions or didn’t have sufficient one-on-one time with their physical therapist.
Leg cramps, which are painful and involuntary muscle contractions, can occur regularly during the night and be a major disturbance on sleep for those who experience them. The specific cause of these cramps is not known, but it’s very possible that not getting enough physical activity and habitually stretching leg muscles may lead to them. To test a theory that stretching the calves and hamstrings before going to sleep could reduce the cramps, physical therapists instructed one group of patients to stretch and another group not to before sleep. After six weeks, the group that stretched reported a much better improvement, with fewer and less severe leg cramps than the non-stretching group.
If you’re reading this, chances are likely you own a cell phone and at least know how to use text messaging (also called SMS), if you don’t actually use it regularly. Chances may also be that you view it primarily as a means for communicating with friends and family, and probably don’t see it as a tool to be used for anything important in the medical field. Well, it turns out that conception can very likely change soon, as medical researchers are attempting to start utilizing cell phones to collect data in a much cheaper and more efficient manner, for both patients and researchers. To test if this could indeed be a possible alternative for collecting data to traditional in-person or phone interviews, researchers surveyed a population and found that (unsurprisingly) most people use cell phones and SMS, and many of those followed through with texting researchers. This could mean a new shift in the way studies are conducted and a more productive use for cell phones in the future.
For most people who go to a physical therapist for treatment, the process usually entails an initial visit to a physician, who will review the patient’s condition and refer them to a physical therapist if they see fit. While this is often the standard protocol, some suggest that the referral from the physician is unnecessary and more costly, and that patients can instead use what’s called “direct access” in certain cases and refer themselves to a physical therapist. Opponents cite potential backlashes from this system, and in select states, as well as under certain insurance policies, it’s not allowed; however, a study that compared a group of patients who were self-referred with a group that was physician-referred found no significant differences between groups when assessing cost and overall improvement of patients. These findings suggest that physician referrals may oftentimes not be required, and that patients can instead take matters into their own hands and refer themselves whenever possible.
The popularity of marathon running has skyrocketed in recent history, and what was once an event reserved for the elite competitors throughout the world has come to include all walks of life and a wide variety of skill levels. Due to this process, a large percentage of marathon runners are first-timers, and many are inexperienced in running and the precautions that should be taken while competing in a marathon. To get a clearer sense of this breakdown, surveys were distributed to a large sample of marathon runners to evaluate their perceptions on the race. Unsurprisingly, many of these runners were inexperienced, with only about half having run at least two marathons in the past, but more importantly, the majority of runners displayed a lack of knowledge regarding hydration techniques and how to avoid injuries that arise from improper hydration. This calls for more education on this topic for newcomers to the sport who might not know all the risks involved.
Reaching old age comes with a multitude of associated ailments, particularly in the physical realm with issues like weakening joints and muscles, but also in the mental realm with possible memory loss, depression and anxiety. Getting regular exercise has always been recommended to elders for the plethora of physical benefits it can provide, but in addition to that, it’s been suggested that exercise can lead to improvements for the mind as well. To look into this matter in greater detail, a review was conducted that analyzed all available information on the topic, and results supported this notion with a number of significant figures. This led researchers to suggest a minimum of two 45-minute sessions of light-to-moderate intensity exercise each week for those over 65 to help improve mental wellbeing.
For any injured athlete of any level of competition, the most pressing question following an injury is always, “how long until I can return?” Answering this question and returning an athlete to competition as quickly as possible while also ensuring their safety is a difficult matter for physicians, and evaluating these cases requires consideration of a number of important factors. While there are certain common denominators across the board when it comes to making these decisions, there’s also a great amount of variation from one physician to another, which calls for the need of more definitive guidelines to help medical professionals navigate this process. Taking note of this, two physicians highlighted all current guidelines on the topic and pointed out the gaps that need to be improved upon, including in these reviews some useful tests that can gauge an athlete’s readiness to return and some vital categorizations that divide athletes into appropriate groupings.
What if, rather than crossing fingers and hoping for the best, athletes were better equipped to avoid injuries by a training program that teaches their bodies and brains how to react in a situation that might cause injury? Effective use of such a program could significantly reduce the rate of sports-related injuries and save the health-care system huge amounts from the second most common source of injuries behind domestic accidents. Proprioceptive and neuromuscular training programs (PT/NT) are designed to prevent injuries by improving the body’s stability and balance, but they’re not used universally due to conflicting views on their effectiveness. To clear up this matter, a review was conducted on pertinent literature, which found these types of training exercises to be effective at reducing the rate of a number of injuries in certain sports. Ample consideration should therefore be given to using these programs in sports where they can better prepare athletes in competition and lower their chances of sustaining injury.
Hallux valgus is a chronic condition in which the big toe deviates inward towards the smaller toes, eventually leading to the development of a bump on the side of the foot called a bunion. If the condition isn’t treated properly and the bunion grows, pain and discomfort will result and lead to disability in every day life. The specific causes of hallux valgus are not known, but many believe improper footwear such as high heels can lead to its occurrence due to excessive pressure on the feet. To test this theory, a study was performed on a population of females in China, and found family history of the condition, and not high heel usage, to be the most indicative predictor of hallux valgus. With this, high heel use should not be encouraged, but those who do wear them should feel secure in knowing they don’t contribute to the condition.
Today, more than ever, health-care providers are concerned with implementing patient-centered care, the goal of which is to provide the highest quality and most cost-effective treatment for every patient. Following this trend, one of the main indicators for evaluating quality care is patient satisfaction, which is doubly important because satisfied patients are also more likely to adhere to treatments and benefit from their health care. With a desire to evaluate patient satisfaction in the physical therapy setting, a team of researchers conducted a review of all available literature on the topic. Results showed that patients are predominantly satisfied with the musculoskeletal physical therapy they were receiving, with an overall satisfaction estimate for all patients of 4.44 out of 5 (with 1 being very dissatisfied and 5 being very satisfied.)
Groin pain is a common ailment for many athletes, particularly those involved in sports like football and soccer, where running and sudden changes in direction make the risk of developing this pain more likely. Diagnosing these injuries is difficult, and treating it is even harder due to the fact that only minimal research exists on treatments that have been proven to be effective. A review of all available literature on the topic was therefore conducted, and it found exercise therapy to be an incredibly helpful intervention, as it led to favorable outcomes in helping athletes return to sport in all research found, with two studies even reporting it significantly reduced symptoms.
For quite some time, stretching before and after physical activity has been a popular course of action performed by many and underscored with the belief that it reduces the risk of injury while engaged in activity. Surprisingly enough, despite its widespread usage across the gamut, the specific benefits of stretching to prevent injury are not well established, and many studies have shown them to be questionable. To evaluate this matter in greater detail, a powerful study was conducted and found stretching to be effective in increasing the feeling of looseness and reducing some soreness, but debatable in terms of preventing injury.
Exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC) consist of acute pain, stiffness and muscle knotting, and usually occur during or shortly after exercise and last for several days. These types of cramps can be extremely debilitating for athletes and can prevent them from participating at full capacity. Medical professionals believe that by understanding the cause of EAMC, better treatment and prevention methods can be established. Two main schools of thought exist on the subject, one that believes the cramps are due to dehydration imbalances, and another that claims they’re a result of deeper-rooted neuromuscular changes. Both theories have some strong points, as well as flaws, and are examined in greater detail here.
Exercise of any sort throughout the course of a pregnancy has long been a debated topic that continues to attract varying viewpoints. Of the greatest concern is the final trimester of a pregnancy, a time vital to the development of fetal lungs and other organs, which leads to questions regarding the effect of exercise on the homeostasis of the maternal-fetal unit. To better understand the connection between moderate exercise and the safety of fetuses in the final trimester of a pregnancy, a study was conducted on pregnant women and found no noticeable effects that were negative to the development of the fetus resulting from exercise.
When it comes to hearing news regarding an important, possibly life-altering condition, patients are at an increased level of susceptibility and vulnerability. For this reason, the manner in which news is delivered to patients is of extreme importance, and it can go on to have a major impact on how they come to deal with their diagnosis. Some medical professionals still manage to err in this sensitive process, but this pamphlet should elucidate on the most common mistakes and how to properly deliver these pieces of news.
Running is far and away the most popular form of physical activity throughout the world, primarily due to the fact that just about any able-bodied person in just about any location can do it. With its popularity, however, also comes a high risk of injury, as some studies report numbers as high as 79% of all runners sustaining a running-related injury (RRI) at some point in their career. To evaluate the inherent risks associated with running and to determine the differences in risk factors for male and female novice runners, a randomized control trial was performed with these objectives in mind.
With the overwhelming slew of information on the Internet regarding just about any subject imaginable, including medical research and advice, it’s difficult for the common man to determine what to believe and what to dismiss. Evidence-based medicine (EBM) uses a system that assigns a number to each medical study according to its strength of evidence, and as a result, makes the process of deciding what to trust as credible much easier.
Making the decision to participate in a marathon (26.2 miles) or half marathon (13.1 miles) usually means one will be spending a sizable period of time prior to the race involved in a serious training program. For many who follow these programs, however, a number of minor but common mistakes in the course of training or on the day of the race can have negative effects on performance, but can easily be avoided by following these guidelines.
It’s estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 8 men in Canada have osteoporosis, a skeletal condition that occurs as a result of low bone mineral density. Osteoporosis particularly affects those over the age of 65 and has significant implications for those who suffer from it and on the entire health care system due to its prevalence. By understanding who’s at risk and by following some simple preventative measures given by the organization Osteoporosis Canada, the rate of osteoporosis can be lowered, saving money and reducing complications for all those affiliated with the condition.
Pilates have seen a major upswing in popularity in recent years, with more than five million Americans regularly using the exercise system today. The Pilates method, as its formally known, employs a series of resistance exercises performed with various apparatuses and a Pilates mat, and its goal is to improve body composition, flexibility and muscular endurance. Despite its prominence, evidence on the specific benefits of Pilates is scarce. To better analyze the actual effects of Pilates, a small study was performed using a group of physically active adults.
Recent research released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that obesity-related diseases account for 9.1% of all medical spending in the U.S., or about $147 billion annually. With this in mind, the CDC emphasizes the importance of reducing the national obesity rate in order to lower health care costs, and suggests certain ways in which this can be accomplished.
With such an abundance of medical reports being released by the media, it has become a difficult task to determine whether a source or study is trustworthy. Clinical trials, due to a number of powerful factors, are proven to be the most accurate of studies, even when their conclusions contradict popular belief.
The NFL preseason, while imperative for a fully functioning team, also happens to be a period of time where injuries occur on a far-too-often basis.One study followed an NFL team through their preseason for 10 consecutive seasons, recording all statistics relevant to injury, and produced an in-depth break down of the most common injuries, the most dangerous positions, and other related information.