By Jason Waz, President of Competitive Edge Physical Therapy
How Physical Therapy Technology Can Promote Optimal Health
COVID 19 has changed the landscape of company policies, with “temporary” work solutions quickly becoming long-term solutions. Since March 2020, as high as 60% of the workforce has been switched to remote working, with an estimated 30-40% of employees moving toward a permanent remote set up by 2021. As many employers have shifted their employees to working remotely from their homes, physical therapists have seen an upward trend in patients reporting shoulder, neck and back pain due to compromised ergonomic set-ups at home. Remote working has also changed the environment for employees, adding family and scheduling stressors to an ever-changing work dynamic.
In addition, since closures due to COVID began, physical therapists have seen an increase in patients that have been altering their workout regimen due to mandated gym shut downs and lack of home equipment. Without the ability to exercise regularly, optimal health and immune function is compromised. New aches and pains coupled with additional stress can have a negative impact on overall health, making it more important than ever to establish a proactive plan for staying healthy and active.
Utilizing Technology to Elevate Physical Therapy and Achieve Optimal Health
In a home workplace, employees have found themselves positioned in the most convenient seat, often without regards to proper ergonomics. This could mean sitting on a couch typing on a laptop, taking Zoom calls from the kitchen counter, or slouched looking at a small screen—making the body sustain abnormal postures that lead to pain. The human head typically weighs about 10 pounds, but when tilted downward even slightly and held there, the weight on the cervical spine increases exponentially. The same applies for slumped sitting positions causing increased pressure on lumbar spine discs and straining supporting back musculature. While our bodies can “get away with” these postures for short periods, compounded over the hours of daily remote working has lead employees to turn to physical therapy for help to support their new work environment.
The active community has also found themselves without a structured gym environment to exercise and benefit from the positive health effects of physical activity. A market research study performed in April 2020 indicated a 307% increase in weight equipment sales, as people have adapted their workout regimens to their homes. However, for many of those that were unable to create home gyms, they have found themselves with limited options as gyms have closed and been slow to reopen due to COVID concerns. The countless positive effects of regular physical activity have been well documented, and now more than ever the benefits specific to the immune-boosting benefit of movement are paramount. Physical therapy interventions are key to maintaining muscle strength and function during this time, thereby promoting optimal health and immune system function.
Over the past two decades, the team at Competitive Edge Physical Therapy (CEP) has worked to set themselves apart from the typical run-of-the-mill physical therapy practice, focusing on applying specialized techniques and groundbreaking technology to gain industry-leading results with patients. CEP is now using this technology to assess, diagnose and treat physical impairments as well as promote optimal health in the ever-changing environment our community is now faced with. These specialized treatments include:
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Diagnostics
Constant change—in environment, family dynamics, work capacity—during this time is a key contributor to an increase in stress. CEP has integrated heart rate variability (HRV) technology to achieve a baseline of a client’s physical state. This non-invasive, 5 minute procedure paints a picture of the body’s wellness and recovery capacity by gaining feedback from electrical activity of the heart. Through analysis of this critical information, physical therapists can determine if a person is in a “fight or flight” dominant state due to physical or emotional stressors. Armed with that information, CEP is then able to develop individualized plans to improve health status and increase functional capacity.
NEUBIE Electrical Stimulation
Improper muscle activation and changes in motor nerve stimulation guided by our body’s nervous system contributes to chronic aches and pains. In a modified desk sitting environment, low back pain is the main complaint due to de-activation of the gluteus maximus muscle, tensioning of the hip flexors, and flexed posture at lumbar spine. In addition to low back pain, shoulder and neck pain develops when working long hours in a suboptimal space, as muscle tension and fatigue increases in the neck and shoulder. CEP serves as the flagship physical therapy facility incorporating the NEUBIE device into treatment practice, allowing physical therapists to assess the root cause of muscle dysfunction and correct the nerve signaling pathways. The NEUBIE can also be used to optimize muscle strength—ideal for those that are unable to exercise at the gym to strengthen during this time.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Treatment
For those patients that are feeling increased stress juggling a full time work schedule in addition to childcare and family dynamics, Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy can help the body to decrease the negative effects of chronic stress. PEMF is an energy modality used to stimulate cells with the goal of enhancing overall wellness. Increased environmental exposure to damaging frequencies (cellular signaling, Wi-Fi, blue light, etc) while working from home due to increased time spent on electronic devices coupled with stress and lack of restorative rest translates to a sub-optimal state of wellness. By exposing the body to low frequency, short bursts of electromagnetic energy through PEMF therapy, the cell charges are restored, making it easier for the body to attain its optimal health status. This translates to an increased ability to switch from the “fight-or-flight” system to a more curative state in our nervous system.
Forward head posture and slumped seating position while working at a makeshift work station contributes to overload of supporting muscles. Sustained bad posture creates an imbalance in the length of muscles by shortening at one area and overlengthening of the opposing muscle group. Through use of the Posture Screen application, CEP is able to obtain a 4 view assessment of an individual’s standing posture to accurately measure angles and postural displacements that contribute to neck and back pain. This also provides comparative data to measure improvements over time. Visual and numerical data increases the patient’s ability to self-assess and self-correct posture while working at home.
Telehealth Virtual Assessment
In response to COVID 19, CEP began offering telehealth treatment sessions to our clients. We have expanded this capacity to include workplace assessments in a patient’s home– providing virtual video assessment on maximizing home ergonomics, modifications to work spaces, and individualized feedback to decrease strain while working in a home environment.
By combining new technology with the most up-to-date physical therapy practices, CEP is pushing the boundaries of conventional health care to help patients reach their wellness goals. CEP’s mission is to promote optimal health across the lifespan, utilizing proven technology to achieve results.
To schedule your session with a physical therapist, contact CEP at 813-849-0150
CEP Competitive Edge
3105 W. Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa, FL 33629