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September 9, 2016

Therapeutic Massage: Improving Body, Mind and Spirit

therapeutic massage benefits

There’s no question that a massage – whether by a partner or a professional – can be the ultimate in relaxation.

However, did you know that therapeutic massage has become a scientifically-studied, proven form of treating many permanent disabilities, including spinal cord injuries (SCI)?

Twenty SCI patients, with injury levels between C5 and C7, were involved in a therapeutic massage study. Half were randomly selected to participate in massage therapy for 40 minutes, twice per week. The other control group participated in typical rehab exercise routines twice per week. After five weeks, both groups showed physical improvement. However, the massage therapy group not only showed significantly higher physical improvements, but also lower anxiety and depression scores. Put simply, massage therapy proved dramatically more beneficial than traditional exercise with this SCI study.

So, what specific areas does massage therapy help with?

Circulation

Among those with spinal cord injuries and other movement-restrictive conditions, proper circulation – especially in effected limbs – is among the leading causes of secondary health issues. These issues can range from as seemingly mundane as a tingling sensation to as deadly as blood clots. Therapeutic massage can dramatically improve blood flow as muscles and tissue is stimulated. And, again, with as little as two sessions per week, improved circulation can be sustained.

Range of Motion

For those with a loss of movement, muscles and joints can become limited in range of motion (ROM). At its most severe, limited ROM can lead to contractures, meaning parts of the body become fixed in position – for example, limbs that no longer straighten. Therapeutic massage reduces muscle tension (which even for those with SCIs, muscles may still involuntarily contract). This reduction in tension can allow joints and extremities to have increased ROM, decreasing the likelihood of contractures.

Spasticity and Tone

For those with spasticity and tone, the constant muscle extension and contraction can be fatiguing, painful and frustrating. Through therapeutic massage, the relation of the muscles can decrease these symptoms. Fatigue often exacerbates spasticity and tone, whereas relaxation can decrease it. By relaxing the muscles through therapeutic massage, the adverse effects of spasticity and tone are often dramatically decreased, allowing improved muscle control.

Emotional Well-being

Getting back to the aforementioned study, therapeutic massage has proven benefits beyond the physical. Disability experience can be difficult and stressful. Knowing the mind-body connection, relaxing one can relax the other. Those undergoing therapeutic massage universally express lower anxiety and less depression, a correlation to releasing endorphins and other chemicals that improve emotional mood and mental health.

Therapeutic Massage as Modern Medicine

When it comes to therapeutic massage, it’s no longer a mystery: modern medicine proves its benefits not only for the physical, but the emotional and mental. More and more outpatient rehabilitation facilities offer therapeutic massage, and it’s recommended for many with spinal cord injuries and other conditions for dramatic improvements in quality of life – mind, body and soul.

New technologies in therapeutic massage products can provide the next best thing to your own personal massage therapist. For soothing, kneading massage to ease sore neck and shoulder muscles, try the Osaki Kneading Massage Belt.

Kneading Massage Belt

Kneading Massage Belt

OmKnee Foot Massager

OmKnee Foot Massager

 

 

 

 

 

 

The OmKnee Foot Massager offers shiatsu massage to the feet and legs, and heated air-pressure massage to your calves and knees to increase circulation and ease knee pain.

 

For the ultimate in massage and relaxation, check out the Refresh Massage chair. Recline, relax and enjoy a full body compression massage any time! See our full range of therapeutic massage products at Spinlife.com.

therapeutic massage chair

Refresh Massage Chair

September 6, 2016

Employment Among the Disabled: Challenges and Progress

Employment and disabilities

Employment rates among the disabled community are a topic of much discussion.

When it comes to employment, socio-economics and those with disabilities, we often hear grim statistics. For example, 28.1% of those with disabilities live below the poverty line compared to 11.6% of the general population.

However, such statistics, while unfortunately true, don’t reflect other, brighter socio-economic dynamics of the lives of those with disabilities. Employment rates are one of them.

It’s often touted that those with disabilities have an astronomically high unemployment rate of around 70%. Yet, when we look at the actual statistics, the realities are both revealing and encouraging.

Cornell University performed a landmark study that gathered employment statistics on those with disabilities. In 2014, 34.6% of those with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 were employed. Further, an additional 9.2% of those with disabilities were actively seeking jobs. That data puts those with disabilities in the workforce at a remarkable 43.8%. That’s astonishingly better than the 70% unemployment rate that’s often inaccurately touted.

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August 22, 2016

Knee Replacement fundamentals: an insiders perspective

Doctor examining patient before knee replacement

Facing Total Knee Replacement surgery? Just last year it was my turn to be the patient.

I have always been an active person. I enjoy the outdoors, swimming, working out at the gym. Together with my husband, I have travelled all over the country on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. My right knee had deteriorated steadily for 25 years, to the point that it would no longer function. Because I was only 30 when it began to give me trouble, the Doctors advised me to postpone Total Knee Replacement surgery until I could no longer stand the pain. In 2015, I decided the time had come to get it fixed.

The next few months were interesting. After 15 years as a Medical Equipment Specialist, working with Physicians and their patients to supply the equipment they will need during their post-op rehabilitation, it was my turn at bat.  My name at the top of the prescription came as a bit of a shock. This was going to be my Total Knee Replacement.

I am thankful that I did have the background to know what to expect before and after surgery. After all, I had reviewed this with clients many times. All that information proved itself true, and I can summarize the best of the advice right here:

Before Total Knee Replacement

Do whatever you can to get in/stay in shape. The better physical condition you are in, the easier your recovery will be. I found the elliptical machine at the gym didn’t bother my knee too much, and it was good cardio. I did lots of upper-body work as well to help strengthen my arms and shoulders. If you need to lose weight, try to do so before the surgery as well.

Get the equipment you need before the operation. You will need these thing before your discharge, and I came home the next morning! Don’t think you will go shopping for them when you get out, have them ready. You will need the walker in the hospital, so bring it with you. Your individual physician may have his or her own preferred list, but at the very least, you will need the following:

A walker with wheels. I ordered one with a seat on it as well, so I could sit down if I needed to. That was a big help once I was able to go out to the store, etc.

Rolling Walker Rollator by Drive Medical

This walker and I became very good friends!

Several large Ice bags, or even better, purchase or rent a portable cold therapy machine. They reduce pain and inflammation and aid in a quicker recovery. And I used the portable cold therapy machine EVERY day for at least 3 months.

My doctor prescribed a CPM machine (Continuous passive motion) those units keep the knee joint moving continually so that the new joint remains mobile. That was rented for about 4 weeks only, and my insurance covered the rental fees.

Bath and Shower Seat with backrest

A shower seat, and hand held shower sprayer. Definitely. I felt dizzy for a while after surgery, so it’s a safety thing. Something about the steamy heat of a shower makes me a little woozy anyway, and you do not want to take any chance of falling!

A raised toilet seat. (If your toilet seat is high already you may not need this) The object is to make it easier for you to get up.


 Chrome hand held shower spray by Drive Medical Designs

 Folding Pedal Exerciser

 

 

 

 

After Total Knee Replacement

Take your pain meds as prescribed. Particularly at the beginning keep ahead of the pain and just take it. (I do not like taking pills of any kind either, but honestly, just take it) Take it before you do your Physical Therapy and you will be able to work harder. I took pain meds every day for 6 weeks.

You have to do your Physical Therapist even though it hurts like crazy. Push yourself. Then ice and rest. It gets easier, I promise.

Get back to your regular exercise routine as soon as you can. Stationary bikes are great for new knees.

Honestly, I felt better every day after surgery. I suffered a few setbacks over the months, mostly when I backed off of the stretching and exercises I was supposed to continue doing. It was one full year before I felt completely recovered, and now I am so glad it’s behind me and my surgery was a success.

Last month my family surprised me with a beach vacation on my birthday. I took long, pain-free walks every day on the beach. What a blessing that was, and I am so grateful for my new knee!

 

August 18, 2016

Baby Boomers revisited: The truth about Zoomers

Senior couple having a coffee in a bar. taking selfie with smart phone

 

If you are one of the baby boomers – or have a loved one who is – you are not alone, that’s for sure.

Post WWII, 77.3 million Baby boomers, as coined by the New York Post back in the day, were born between 1946 and 1964. In 2016, that places the baby boomer generation between the ages of 52 and 70. Historically, in previous generations, this meant slowing down and retiring. However, for this generation, retiring may not mean slowing down, but simply changing directions! Yes, Boomers are the new Zoomers.

As sociologists have researched, the trait that makes Baby Boomers different than previous generations is that they’ve maintained an indomitable spirit of growth. This traces back to their coming of age in the 1960s, where personal growth became a cultural norm. That same spirit remains with them today, regardless of their age.

From civil rights to physical fitness, Baby Boomers continue to push the envelope, embracing change and growth.

In 2016, when we look at the demographics of which age groups are traveling the most, adopting technology at lightning-fast rates, and are pursuing late-in-life courtships in growing numbers, Boomers and Zoomers top the charts. You might say, you’re more likely to find Boomers texting on their smart phone than having a conversation on a porch swing.

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July 20, 2016

Bringing the patient home: 5 things you should know following a hospital stay

SpinLife.com : Bringing home the patient

Bringing home the patient – 5 simple steps to take following a hospital stay.

I recently helped my mother bring my father home from the hospital after quintuple bypass surgery. This transition was an eye-opening experience. I realized how emotionally draining and stressful it can be for everyone involved. When it is time for the patient to come home, everyone is relieved. At the same time, though, they may be wondering…what happens next?

Whether the hospital stay is a long or short one, there are some basic steps I’ve learned that you and your family can take to make sure the transition is as stress-free as possible.

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