Physical therapists are often asked about our opinion of braces. There are many types of braces, including support braces for the spine, as well as sport/recreational/occupational braces for many areas of the body, including the knee and ankle. My opinion of braces varies on a case-by-case basis. We need to look at a variety of factors to determine whether wearing a brace is appropriate or not.
In general, I am not typically in favor of wearing spinal braces. The exception would be in a post surgical case, where the surgeon has specifically told the patient to wear a brace, normally to prevent movement while the body heals. However, once this healing has taken place, we want the patient to wean out of the brace as soon as possible. The reason for this is that the brace immobilizes the spine, leading to stiffness, loss of flexibility, and loss of strength due to inactivity. The spinal muscles, when operating efficiently, will provide a natural “brace” of support for the spine. If a patient becomes reliant on a brace for their support, their muscles will weaken due to not being used, and their problem actually worsens.
There are certain types of braces that I will recommend for a limited time, as long as they are not used as a long term solution. Examples would be a “tennis elbow” brace, a patellar support brace, an ankle support brace initially after an ankle injury, or a shoulder sling. In all of these cases, we are only using the brace for a limited period of time to allow the body to heal, or recover. We are still trying to rehabilitate the body to work properly in the long term, so that the brace will not be needed long term.
Often the trickiest decision regarding braces comes when discussing the use of preventative braces during sports. Examples would be ankle support braces for volleyball or basketball or knee braces for football linemen. In each of these cases, the rationale for wearing the brace is to prevent potential injury by providing additional support for the joints. Strong cases can be made for wearing the braces, as well as for not wearing the braces. There is not even consensus within the medical field as to which is the better option!
In summary, the decision about whether or not to wear a brace is often complex and not clear cut. The key is to have a thorough discussion of the pros and cons of bracing, so that each individual patient can make their own well informed decision.
By: Mason Riegel, PT
Many people wonder if their insurance is accepted at Hudsonville Physical Therapy. Here is a list of insurances we accept and are in-network with:
If you do not see your insurance on this list, give us a call to check with us at 616-662-0990. We accept and are in-network with almost all insurances, and we are happy to verify your physical therapy benefits to provide a cost-estimate before your visit.
By: Sherri Prins
Do you know someone who has had a total knee or total hip replacement? Often times these individuals will be very excited to share the success they have had from their surgery in reducing their long-standing pain. However, what most people conveniently forget is the initial discomfort and pain they had rehabilitating their new joint immediately after surgery.
Many of our patients discuss their current (mid-rehab) condition with those that have gone before them and feel like they should be progressing faster than their current status. A total knee replacement is a major surgery where the surgeon cuts through bone and soft tissue, and then inserts a new prosthetic joint. This trauma alone can take 6 to 8 weeks to heal, and causes pain, swelling, soreness, stiffness, and weakness. Swelling alone can cause significant pain and stiffness in a joint until it begins to diminish.
It is critical to be patient and focus on the small improvements that you'll see day-to-day during the rehabilitation phase of your recovery. Most people notice slight reductions in swelling, slight improvements in their range of motion or ability to perform various functional activities such as transferring from a chair, squatting to the toilet, or dressing.
It is important to communicate to your physical therapist whether you're seeing the slight imporvements or if things are worseing. This helps give him or her clues as to how to best progress you with your rehab program.
Remember, the new "bionic part" that was inserted requires you to adapt and adjust to it as it heals!
Call us if you have any questions about total joint replacements and post-operative rehab: 616-662-0990.
By: Steve Bartz, PT
Who's bad at remembering to drink enough 💧WATER💧?
Dehydration caused by lack of water can cause all kinds of issues, like headaches, dry skin, fatigue, kidney stones, low blood pressure and much more! Avoid dehydration and feel more energized this summer by drinking 2 to 3 L of water every day! If you're out in the heat sweating, or exercising, make sure you drink extra!
Try a couple of these tips to make drinking water easier:
1. Drink a cup of water BEFORE your morning coffee 1️⃣🥤 2️⃣☕️
2. Get a high quality water bottle and bring it with you everywhere💧
3. Set an alarm reminder on your phone to drink water a few times throughout the day ⏰📱
4. Hate water? Try adding lemon, lime, cucumber, fruit (get a bottle with an infuser!), or sparkling water 🍋🍓
By: Lisa Bartz, C-EP
Steve Bartz, PT