Physical Therapy May Help Loosen Up Patients with Scleroderma

Physical therapy may be used to help alleviate some of the symptoms of scleroderma, reduce pain associated with the condition, and improve mobility, according to a news article that appears in Scleroderma News.

Physical therapy exercises could help stretch the skin, muscles, and joints affected by scleroderma. Doing so could help improve the patient’s posture, increase the range of movements that a patient can perform, as well as prevent the loss of muscle mass and strength.

Performing physical therapy could also reduce other symptoms of scleroderma, including gastrointestinal, lymph node, and nervous system problems, the news story continues.

Full story at ptproductsonline.com

Bipartisan Senate budget deal boosts health programs

In a rare show of bipartisanship for the mostly polarized 115th Congress, Republican and Democratic Senate leaders announced a two-year budget deal that would increase federal spending for defense as well as key domestic priorities, including many health programs.

Not in the deal, for which the path to the president’s desk remains unclear, is any bipartisan legislation aimed at shoring up the Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance marketplaces. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) a vote on health legislation in exchange for her vote for the GOP tax bill in December. So far, that vote has not materialized.

Full story at news-medical.net

Augmented reality system allows medical images to be displayed directly on the patient’s body

New technology is bringing the power of augmented reality into clinical practice.

The system, called ProjectDR, allows medical images such as CT scans and MRI data to be displayed directly on a patient’s body in a way that moves as the patient does.

“We wanted to create a system that would show clinicians a patient’s internal anatomy within the context of the body,” explained Ian Watts, a computing science graduate student and the developer of ProjectDR.

Full story at News Medical

3-D printed microfibers could provide structure for artificially grown body parts

Much as a frame provides structural support for a house and the chassis provides strength and shape for a car, a team of Penn State engineers believe they have a way to create the structural framework for growing living tissue using an off-the-shelf 3-D printer.

“We are trying to make stem-cell-loaded hydrogels reinforced with fibers like the rebar in cement,” said Justin L. Brown, associate professor of biomedical engineering. “If we can lend some structure to the gel, we can grow living cells in defined patterns and eventually the fibers will dissolve and go away.”

The researchers’ report in a recent issue of the Journal of Advanced Healthcare Materials that their aim is to create a novel, low-cost and efficient method to fabricate high-resolution and repeatable 3-D polymer fiber patterns on nonconductive materials for tissue engineering with available hobbyist-grade 3-D printers. The method they use is a combination of 3-D printing and electrospinning, a method that uses electric charge to spin nanometer threads from either a polymer melt or solution.

Full story at Science Daily

Scientists discover new way to help nerve regeneration in spinal cord injury

There is currently no cure for spinal cord injury or treatment to help nerve regeneration so therapies offering intervention are limited. People with severe spinal cord injuries can remain paralysed for life and this is often accompanied by incontinence.

A team led by Drs Liang-Fong Wong and Nicolas Granger from Bristol’s Faculty of Health Sciences has successfully transplanted genetically modified cells that secrete a treatment molecule shown to be effective at removing the scar following spinal cord damage. The scar in the damaged spinal cord typically limits recovery by blocking nerve regrowth.

Previous work by the team proved olfactory ensheathing cells – which are taken from the ‘smell system’ where they regenerate and repair throughout life to maintain sense of smell, could be genetically modified to secrete a treatment enzyme known as chondroitinase ABC (ChABC). This treatment enzyme is key in breaking down the glial scar at the injury point of the spinal cord and helping to promote nerve regrowth.

Full story at Medical Xpress

Move Forward Radio: Former NBA All-Star Grant Hill Discusses Pain Management and Alternatives to Opioids

As a 19-year player in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Grant Hill was no stranger to injury, both major and minor. Experiencing “aches and pains, bumps and bruises is kind of par for the course,” he says.

Now available from APTA’s Move Forward Radio: a conversation with Hill, who describes his experience with injury, managing pain, and what he would do differently today. “We all have pain in some fashion. The most important thing is to educate yourself…about pain—how do you handle postsurgery? What are your rights as a patient?” With regard to opioids, he explains, “You have options.”

The 7-time all-star retired in 2013 after numerous ankle injuries and surgeries—and painful recoveries—over the course of his career. Hill is a strong proponent of nonopioid alternatives to pain management and is a spokesperson for Plan Against Pain, a national campaign that educates the public on the availability of nondrug approaches to pain treatment postsurgery. As a player, he was prescribed opioids after surgery and for very painful injuries but says, “I didn’t like the way I felt.” Hill tried to find alternative ways to treat his pain, including physical therapy. “Physical therapy has been an integral part of my career and my longevity” as a player, he says.

Full story at APTA

Study: 61% of Opioid-Related Deaths Linked to Chronic Pain Diagnosis

In a study that underscores the need to rethink pain treatment in the US, researchers have found that more than 6 out of 10 individuals who died of an opioid-related cause had received a diagnosis for a chronic noncancer pain condition within the preceding year. The same group was also more likely to have been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and prescribed psychotropic medications–including benzodiazepines, which can increase the risk of death when combined with opioids.

The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, focused on 13,089 opioid-related deaths among Medicaid patients under 65 years old. Researchers divided the decedents into 2 groups—those who had received a chronic noncancer pain diagnosis in the year preceding death, and those who didn’t—and looked at other clinical diagnoses, filled medical prescriptions, and nonfatal poisonings during the 12 months preceding death as well as 30 days before death.

Full story at APTA

Choosing Wisely at 5: Is It Making a Difference (And What About the Next 5 Years)?

Five years into the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation’s “Choosing Wisely” campaign, most health care providers and consumers who’ve heard about it agree that the initiative has something important to say about avoiding unnecessary tests and procedures, including some associated with physical therapy. But has that awareness increased significantly, and does it translate into changes in behavior? Some say no—or at least not yet.

ABIM’s recently released special report on the first 5 years of the Choosing Wisely program characterizes the initiative as a sorely needed effort that is gaining momentum. Since its beginnings in 2012, the collection of ineffective and overused treatments and tests has expanded to 525 recommendations from more than 80 specialty society partners, according to ABIM. In 2014, APTA became the first nonphysician organization to contribute to Choosing Wisely when it released its list of “5 Things Physical Therapists and Patients Should Question.”

Full story at APTA

Review: Sport Specialization at an Early Age Can Increase Injury Risk

Parents and coaches need to be educated on the risks and signs of overuse injuries common in children who specialize in a single sport at a young age, say authors of a recent research review published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Surgery, they concur, should not be the first-line treatment for such injuries.

An increasing number of children are focusing on 1 sport early, often because parents and coaches are enticed by the possibility of scholarships and professional participation, “increasing emphasis on sports accomplishment,” and perceived value of elite competition, authors note. But the evidence, say authors, suggests that children who wait until age 12 or older to specialize in 1 sport or begin intense training reach higher levels of athletic achievement than those who specialize at a younger age.

In general, say authors, young athletes’ “underdeveloped musculature” and still-growing bones make them prone to overuse injuries such as rotator cuff tendinitis, shoulder instability, humeral epiphysiolysis, knee and elbow ligament injuries, hip impingement, and stress fractures, among others. The strain to a developing body also may increase their risk of injury as adults.

Full story at APTA

Defense Bill Headed for Final Votes Will Include PTAs in TRICARE

Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are now closer than ever to being included as accepted providers under TRICARE, the payment system used throughout the US Department of Defense (DoD) health care system.

Last week, the Armed Services Committees for both the US House and Senate reached an agreement on a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes language proposed by APTA to add PTAs and occupational therapy assistants to the TRICARE program. The APTA-backed amendment was introduced by Sen Thom Tillis (R-NC) in July and was included in the Senate version of the bill that passed in September. The amendment can be found on page 379 of the NDAA.

Full story at APTA