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Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center Provides Individualized Care

August 07, 2012

Physical Therapist Offers Tips for Reducing Sports' Injuries

Summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy physical activities like running, biking, and tennis. But it's also a time when sports' injuries tend to increase, according to Sharmi Mukherjee, a physical therapist and manager of the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. Muscle strains, torn ligaments, knee injuries, and tennis elbow are some of the common injuries.

"People tend to be more active, so they suffer more injuries," she said. "While some injuries can't be avoided, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting hurt."

According to Mukherjee, one thing many people overlook is hydration. Keeping yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids can help to reduce your risk for injuries. She said wearing the proper footwear can also help to reduce the strain on the knees, hips, and back.

"Warming up before and cooling down after physical activity is another way to avoid injuries," she said. "Your muscles need to be warmed up because cold muscles are more prone to injury. Studies show this to be much more effective than stretching."

She is referring to a 2004 study that reviewed six decades of research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study suggests that athletes who devote pre-exercise time to stretching may be better served with a warm-up that prepares the body for activity and regular exercises that build strength and balance.

"If you are going for a run, start by slow-paced jogging or walking while lifting your knees very high," she added. "It's also important to cross train rather than stick to one activity. Regular exercises that condition and strengthen muscles help to prepare your body for more strenuous play."

One of the most important ways to reduce injuries is to listen to your body, according to Mukherjee. Don't "play through" an injury and pay attention to any pain, swelling, and stiffness.

"Your body is talking to you," she said. "It's telling you to slow down and take it easy. If you ignore it, you will pay later."

Get Back on Your Feet

Whether you are suffering from a sports' injury or are recovering from a more serious injury or illness, the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center can help you get back on your feet. Highly trained physical and occupational therapists develop individualized treatment plans so that patients can improve their physical abilities and get back to their regular lives.

Patients who are referred to the Outpatient Rehabilitation Center undergo a thorough evaluation at their first visit, Mukherjee explained. A complete medical history is taken so therapists know about any medical conditions like high blood pressure or respiratory issues that must be monitored. They also need to understand the root cause of any pain.

"For example, if it is a back issue, we need to know where the pain is coming from," she said. "We have people walk so we can see how their foot lands on the ground. There is a lot of examination and evaluation to determine the most effective treatment plan for each individual."

After a thorough evaluation to determine pain levels, strength, and range of motion abilities, therapists and their assistants work with rehab patients to help reduce their pain and increase their strength and flexibility. They use ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and other methods to reduce pain, swelling, and scar tissue, in addition to guiding patients through a physical routine, Mukherjee added.

The exercise routines use a variety of equipment, including recumbent and upright stationary bicycles, an upper body exerciser, therapeutic exercise balls, and a treadmill, as well as other stretching and strengthening equipment.

"Each individualized treatment plan is designed to get people back to their previous levels of functioning," she said. "That might mean being able to return to a physical activity they enjoy or it could mean getting back to work. For some people it might mean being able to perform everyday tasks like making the bed or getting dressed.

While the average course of treatment for occupational or physical therapy is about eight sessions, it can vary widely depending on individual circumstances, Mukherjee said. Patients must be referred to the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center by their doctors. The rehab center is located at 39141 Civic Center Drive in Fremont.

To learn more about the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, visit http://www.whhs.com/oprehab or call (510) 794-9672.

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