Clinical Innovation Flourishes at the Outpatient Physical Therapy Service

May 13, 2015

Therapists present unique treatments at national conferences

The physical therapists at Helen Hayes Hospital view each patient as a unique individual and focus on each patient’s specific needs. Some of our patients have extremely unusual situations. In these cases the therapist does a lot of problem solving.

One such patient arrived at Helen Hayes Hospital with a custom total knee replacement designed to allow “high flexion.” After researching the knee replacement design and its capabilities, the therapist worked with the patient to achieve his goal of sitting in the Lotus position, as was the custom in his culture. He was thrilled to sit on the floor in the Lotus position for his meditation. We were just as thrilled that he accomplished his goal!

Teaching a family member to be a “therapy extender” is a new concept for manual therapy techniques.

Empowering the patient to control pain is an important goal of physical therapy. When the therapist performs a manual technique that provides short-term pain relief, it is a challenge for the therapist to teach the patient how to duplicate the effect at home. Teaching a family member to be a “therapy extender” is a new concept for manual therapy techniques. Individualized instruction and feedback is needed to insure a family member can perform the manual technique properly. A patient with a hip problem had a catching pain that could last several days. A specific manual technique relieved the pain immediately. After training and feedback the family member was able to duplicate the technique at home. The patient was very happy that whenever the catching pain occurred that it could be fixed that same day at home.

Physical therapists share new ideas and research at conferences and in journal publications. We were honored to have both of the above cases accepted as poster presentations at the physical therapy national conference, combined sections meeting. At this annual conference more than 10,000 physical therapy professionals from around the nation meet to share the latest research and best evidence for physical therapy practice. Research presentations range from case studies and clinical trials to meta-analysis. The case of achieving a cultural goal of sitting in the Lotus position was presented at the 2014 national conference and the success of teaching a family member to be a therapy extender at the 2015 national conference.

At Helen Hayes Hospital we are always striving to identify therapy that will help our patients achieve the highest level of function. And you can be sure that we will be at the next physical therapy conference sharing our ideas so other patients can benefit as well.

Marie Kelly, PT DHSc OCS
Unit Coordinator, Out-patient Orthopedic Physical Therapy