What to Do When You’re in an Accident

Woman in car accident getting help. Blog post from New Heights Physical Therapy in Portland, OR

What to Do After a Car Accident

With school opening back up and new drivers taking to the roads, there has been an increase of car accidents throughout Vancouver WA and Portland OR. And, these accidents aren’t just impacting other drivers; motorcyclists, bikers, and pedestrians are also at risk of experiencing a vehicle-related injury.

Even seemingly minor injuries from motor-related accidents can cause serious pain for months, years, or even a lifetime. Over 75% of people who sought immediate medical care after a car accident reported pain 4 weeks later, making these injuries a leading cause of chronic pain.

What Are Common Car Accident Injuries?

Even a small fender bender can cause injury, which may linger long after the accident is over. The jerking motions of coming to an abrupt stop or being hit can lead to whiplash, muscle tears, and more. Without proper attention, these injuries can cause residual pain for years.

Thankfully, physical therapy can help reduce pain and increase mobility after an accident. Some of the most common car-related injuries that physical therapy can help treat are:

  • Whiplash and headaches
  • Back or neck strains
  • Shoulder strains
  • Wrist injuries

What to Do When You’re in an Accident

If you have been in an accident and endured a severe injury or suspect head trauma, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Some signs of head trauma include:

  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Sensory issues with light or sound.
  • Persistent or worsening headache.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Loss of coordination or speech issues.
  • Fatigue or drowsiness.

If you do not suspect serious injury, it is still a good idea to see a physical therapist as soon as possible – even if you don’t immediately feel any pain. Car accidents are traumatic and often trigger a large release of adrenaline, which can make it difficult or impossible to notice an injury right away. Additionally, any damaged soft tissue may take several days or weeks to swell up and cause pain.

A physical therapist can help you avoid or reduce pain after a car accident. With over 24 years of experience serving the Vancouver WA and Portland OR area, the experts at New Heights Physical Therapy can help. Our highly-trained specialists can identify and treat accident-related injuries to help keep you pain free – both immediately and weeks or months later. Call us today if you are facing an accident-related injury!

House Resolution Honors Physical Therapists

House Resolution Honors Physical Therapists

The American Physical Therapy Association is celebrating 100 years as a member association! To mark the centennial, The House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing the essential and valuable roles PTs and PTAs play in improving the health of society and in particular, the contribution they’re making in treating COVID-19 patients who are recovering from severe effects of the disease.

On this landmark occasion, we at New Heights Physical Therapy Plus would like to send a big thank you to the Representatives who sponsored the resolution.

Celebrating the American Physical Therapy Association

The American Physical Therapy Association began with a calling to serve military members in World War I. Today, it’s the largest community for physical therapists, physical therapists assistants, and students. We’re embracing our rich history and are excited for what the future holds.

Learn more about the history of APTA this interactive timeline of 100 milestones of our first 100 years!

Knee Pain Associated with Gardening

Woman gardening. New Heights Therapy talks about Knee Pain Associated with Gardening in Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA

Knee Pain Associated with Gardening

Tending to your garden can be a fun and relaxing hobby. It’s been shown to improve strength, memory retention, mood, and more. The benefits are nearly endless, but the repetitive stress on your knees can also lead to knee pain.

In this article, we’ll explain what gardner’s knee is and how to help prevent it.

What is Gardener’s Knee?

Prepatellar bursitis, commonly called gardener’s knee or housemaid’s knee is a condition caused by the inflammation of the prepatellar bursa–a small fluid-filled area that sits on the front of your knee cap. This condition is common in people who spend a lot of time kneeling. The most common symptoms of gardener’s knee include swelling at the front of the knee, redness, and tenderness. It may also be difficult to bend your knee or walk.

Tips to Avoid Knee Pain While Gardening

When you garden, you’re engaging in low-impact exercise so you’ll want to approach it like you would any other exercise: warm up and know your limits. Here are some more tips to help you garden with less pain.

  • Use knee pads or a kneeling pad to help protect your knees
  • Wear comfortable and supportive shoes
  • Take frequent breaks so you don’t strain your knees
  • Change your positions frequently to relieve stress on the knees
  • Apply ice on your knees after gardening
  • Use gardening tools with long handles
  • Consider a raised garden bed
  • Exercise to strengthen your legs
  • Purchase gardening supplies in light-weight quantities
  • Ask for help when gardening tasks are too difficult for you or cause you strain

Physical Therapy for Knee Pain

Many people brush off knee pain when it first occurs, thinking it will eventually go away. If you’re suffering with pain and swelling around the knee, don’t ignore it. There are several causes of front knee pain other than gardener’s knee which physical therapy may be helpful with.

We at New Heights Physical Therapy Plus in Portland OR can diagnose your condition and offer you the proper treatment so you can continue to do the things you love pain-free!

The Importance of Rest and Recovery

New Heights Physical Therapy gives advice on why recovery is important in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

We so often hear about the health benefits of exercise, but another important part of any exercise program, and for life in general, is recovery. For some it’s one of the hardest things to do but taking time to rest can help prevent an injury and create a healthier body.

What is Recovery?

Recovery in exercise is taking a day or two off to allow your muscles to repair themselves for your next exercise. It also engages muscles that are sore from your previous workouts. Weightlifting, sprinting and endurance runs stress your body so it needs to adapt to these stresses. When you don’t let your body rest as much as it should, you can end up with an injury. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests people take a rest day at least one to two times per week.

Ways to Recover

  • Sleep: The most important part of recovery is sleep! Your body needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep everyday for chemical, hormone and anti-inflammatory responses to happen. Sleep is also very important for your immune system. If you don’t get quality sleep, you may be at a higher risk of getting sick.
  • Staying hydrated: Water plays a vital role in the recovery process. Water helps nutrients repair muscles damaged during exercise, aids in digestion and reduces fatigue. Here’s a fun fact: muscles are actually made up of 75% water.
  • Stretch: After a tough workout, consider stretching. This simple and fast method can help your muscles recover quicker.
  • Massage: Massages not only feel great, they improve circulation allowing you to fully relax. You can self-massage or use a foam roller on tight muscles.
  • Take an ice bath: Some athletes swear by these. An ice bath causes your blood vessels to constrict pushing the blood away from your muscles. Then once your out and your body warms up, the vessels open up and blood flows back into the muscle, bringing more oxygen to help you recover.

Taking time to give your body a rest can be challenging mentally, but it has significant benefits including preventing injuries. The most important thing you can do to recover quickly is listen to your body. At New Heights Physical Therapy, you can get the help and advice that you need to recover especially after an injury. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

Exercise Bands to Rehab an Injury

New Heights Physical Therapy gives advice on recovering from an injury with exercise bands in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Rehabilitation is hugely important after any type of injury. Incorrect or nonexistent rehab can lead to pain, inflexibility, and weakness that could last for months or years. Simple rubber exercise bands can not only help rehab your body, but can also be safely and easily used for a variety of needs even after your injury has healed.

Which Injuries Do Exercise Bands Help?

Exercise bands are great for nearly any type of injury to the joints or muscles and can even be used to improve flexibility if you have arthritis. However, they are particularly effective on the following types of injuries:

  • Tennis elbow
  • Knee injuries
  • Ankle sprains
  • Hip bursitis
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • IT band syndrome

When Should Exercise Bands Be Used?

Even though your body will first need some time to heal before you break out your resistance band, you may be surprised at just how soon after certain injuries you can use these simple tools to improve your strength. Some areas can be worked out just three days after the injury occurred. Major ligament or tendon tears will definitely need more time than this. In general, make sure your pain is mostly gone before you begin to use exercise bands.

Check with your doctor or your physical therapist before starting any new type of workout after an injury. Not only will you be able to find out if you are healed well enough to begin, but also you will get tips on how to best use the exercise band to heal your injury.

What are the Benefits of Using Exercise Bands?

Exercise bands come with many benefits. They are very small and lightweight, making them easy to take with you anywhere you go. This also makes them perfect if you travel frequently. Plus, they come in a variety of resistance levels, letting you start with light resistance and increasing as you go. They are quite budget-friendly and are simple enough to be used by nearly anyone. They will help you in the following ways:

  • Improvements in muscular strength
  • Improvements in joint stability
  • Improvements in balance and flexibility
  • Assistance during difficult moves

Be sure to check with your doctor or therapist before working with exercise bands yourself. However, these cheap and portable tools can take your workout to the next level and can help you rehab your joints and improve muscular strength following an injury. If you’d like to see if working with exercise bands can help your rehabilitation from injury, contact New Heights Physical Therapy today!

Why Do You Experience Swelling After an Injury?

New Heights Physical Therapy answers questions about injury swelling in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Have you ever suffered from a mild injury and noticed that the affected area has swollen up by the next day? Swelling can be so inconvenient and uncomfortable that it often feels worse than the initial injury. It is useful to figure out why exactly your body reacts to injuries, so you can properly deal with swelling.

What is swelling?

To understand why you encounter swelling after an injury, it is important to learn what the response actually involves. Medically speaking, swelling is fluid collecting in between the individual cells that make up your tissues. This fluid can be almost entirely water, or it can contain white blood cells, amino acids, hormones, and nutrients.

Why did my injury swell?

Your body starts swelling because it’s trying to keep you safe. It senses that there is potential damage to the area, so it collects a lot of fluid there to pad the area. This can have a number of benefits, including:

  • This keeps the healing process from being impaired if you bump it again.
  • Swelling prevents you from moving a joint easily, so you do not cause more damage by moving around while injured.
  • Swelling also helps with healing, because it sends useful items to the damaged area.
  • The fluid involved in swelling can contain white blood cells that help prevent damage and infection.

Can I do something for a swollen injury?

Once you understand the reason that swelling is happening, you can treat it more easily. As you have learned, swelling is the body’s attempt to heal and protect an area from more injury. This means you can treat it through the following methods:

  • Rest: Avoid putting any pressure or weight on the area to help it heal faster.
  • Ice: Chilling the area constricts blood flow, reducing inflammation.
  • Compression: A compression bandage keeps fluid from building up.
  • Elevation: You can keep the injured area raised above your heart to help fluid drain.
  • Diuretics: These are medications that encourage the body to remove excess fluid from its system.

Recovering from an injury is an important part of managing swelling. At New Heights Physical Therapy, you can get the help and advice that you need to recover from your injury. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

Benefits of Pelvic Floor Therapy

Explore the benefits of pelvic floor therapy with New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR!

Over the years, women may notice that their pelvic muscles are just not as strong as they once were. They may feel pain in the pelvis, overall weakness, decrease in sexual pleasure, or leaking of urine during normal daily activities. Other symptoms could include the following:

  • Painful urination
  • Constipation
  • Back pain
  • Pelvic muscle spasms
  • Pelvic pressure

If you have been suffering with symptoms like these, you may benefit from pelvic floor therapy.

Is Pelvic Floor Therapy Right for You?

When pelvic floor therapy is used with the guidance of a physical therapist, you may feel more comfortable, eliminate some symptoms and get back to the activities that you love. There are specific circumstances when a woman can really benefit from pelvic floor therapy.

Pelvic Floor and Postpartum Therapy

This therapy is perhaps best known for being used in women who have given birth. The pressure that occurs as you push a child through your vaginal canal can stretch and even tear pelvic muscles, leading to weakness. The pelvic muscles, which are meant to hold up the bladder and uterus, soften and sink. Therapy tightens and lifts these muscles again.

Post-Abdominal Surgery and Pelvic Exercises

Therapy is also very beneficial after pelvic surgery. When the muscles are cut, it takes a while for them to grow back together correctly and to regain their former strength. Healing from surgery can also involve scar tissue and flexibility issues, and pelvic floor therapy can help to address these issues. Physical therapy is an excellent choice after a hysterectomy, episiotomy, colorectal surgery, or C-section.

Pelvic Floor Therapy and Incontinence

If you are aging, you may be noticing some bladder weakness. Instead of turning to an incontinence pad, assuming that this is a normal part of aging, choose pelvic therapy. It can strengthen and lift your pelvic muscles, providing better support for the bladder and ureters.

Therapy for General Pelvic Health

Women may also need physical therapy for the pelvic muscles for a variety of other generalized concerns, including the following:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Abnormally tight pelvic floor muscles
  • Obesity
  • Nerve damage

While you may need months of therapy, and will continue pelvic muscle strengthening exercises at home, you can turn around the health of your pelvic floor and experience great muscle tone in the area. At New Heights Physical Therapy, we believe in taking care of your total health and well-being. If you think you could benefit from pelvic floor therapy, give us a call today!

Physical Therapy for Heart Disease

Physical therapy for heart disease in Portland OR - New Heights Physical Therapy.

After suffering a cardiac event, it can feel difficult to start the journey toward recovery. Healing from such a distressing incident takes time, and physical therapy can aid the rehabilitation process as well as improve your overall heart health. At New Heights Physical Therapy, we’re dedicated to helping our patients recover and gain back strength after any injury or disease-related complication. If you’ve recently suffered from or have ongoing heart-related issues, we’re here to support you and stand by your side in the recovery period.

Beginning the Rehabilitation Process

Whether you’ve experienced a heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty, or heart surgery, cardiac rehab is essential to properly healing both mentally and physically. Your doctor will work with you to develop a plan that is best suited for your health and may consult a physical therapist in evaluating any impairments that need to be taken into consideration. Once you are approved to participate in a cardiac rehab program, it’s time to  take the next step toward recovery!

Recovery Through Education

When you begin your rehabilitation, one of the most important steps is education. Your physical therapist is dedicated to helping you better understand your own heart health and will work with you every step of the way. Education methods include:

  • Understanding the current state of your heart and why you are experiencing heart-related issues.
  • Learning about proper exercise procedures and how to safely practice them.
  • Being taught how to monitor your own heart rate and asses your exertion levels during exercise.
  • Knowing what to avoid in the healing process and understanding what will help you achieve success.
  • Identifying stressors that hurt your heart and learning how to tackle sources of stress.
  • Setting goals for your heart health that will give you something to work toward.

Through education, patients are often more confident in their ability to heal and have a smoother recovery period. By getting familiar with your own heart health, you can make better lifestyle choices post-recovery.

Cardiac Physical Therapy Exercises

Because your heart is still in recovery mode, it is crucial not to overdo your exercise regime. This is why physical therapy plays such an important role in cardiac rehabilitation. Working together with your physical therapist enables you to be monitored and learn about what exercises are best for your particular situation. Independent and group exercise can help you gain confidence, and the presence of a physical therapist ensures you are increasing your exercise tolerance safely. An array of activities may be included in your rehab program including flexibility, strengthening, and aerobic exercises. Once you feel confident enough, at-home exercises will continue to help you get back to normal and decrease the risk of future heart disease complications.

Physical Therapy for a Better Heart

Even if you haven’t suffered from a serious heart-related issue, physical therapy and monitored exercise is essential to adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle. Physical therapists are committed to helping patients lead a healthier life through education and exercise. At New Heights Therapy, we know how life-changing heart disease is and love helping our patients improve their heart health and confidence after a traumatic experience. You owe it to your heart to be committed to anything that helps you live a long and healthy life!

Exercise to Recover from Concussions

Exercise to Recover from Concussions - New Heights Physical Therapy - Portland OR

If you have suffered from a concussion, you know the immediate effects it can have on your ability to function physically, cognitively, and behaviorally. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries caused by direct force or a blow to the head that severely rattles the brain. It has been estimated that more than two million people suffer from concussions in the United States each year. If you have or think you have a concussion, it’s urgent to seek immediate help from a medical professional. At New Heights Physical Therapy, we take concussions very seriously and encourage all patients to consult their doctor before we can help you recover.

What Causes Concussions?

Concussions can occur during rapid movement changes or, most commonly, when there is a direct blow to the head. Because the brain is affected by this, there is immediate or delayed changes in the brain’s chemistry and function. There are a number of incidents that are known to cause concussions:

  • Motor vehicle accidents or collisions
  • Sports-related injuries to the head or neck
  • Falling or tripping (the leading cause)
  • Accidents at hard-labor jobs
  • Violent assault or abuse

Signs of a Concussion

Because concussions can cause long-term damage, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion and seek professional help immediately. It’s also essential to note that symptoms can show immediately or even months after the incident. A few of the symptoms of a concussion include:

  1. Physical symptoms: Nausea/vomiting, difficulty balancing, headache, difficulty sleeping or increased sleepiness, blurred vision, exercise intolerance, sensitivity to light and sound, slurred speech, dazed and confused staring, etc.
  2. Emotional symptoms: Irritability, anxiety or depression, aggression, restlessness, inability to handle stress, mood swings, or a noticeable change in personality or behavior.
  3. Cognitive symptoms: Worsened long-term or short-term memory, confusion, difficulty concentrating/focusing, slower processing, difficulty with decision-making, etc.
  4. Long-term symptoms: Fatigue, weight gain, muscle weakness, chronic headaches, loss of libido, developmental problems in children, low blood pressure, etc.

If you are experiencing any number of these symptoms, you need to contact a medical professional. If symptoms are ignored, the problem can become worse and lead to long-term brain defects.

How Can Exercise Help Treat Concussions?

At New Heights Physical Therapy, we know how distressing a concussion is and are dedicated to helping our patients recover from their traumatic injury. Because we are specialists in sports medicine, we are accustomed to treating athletes that have suffered a sports-related concussion (SRC). No two concussions are the same and we will work hard with you to determine the best course of treatment. There is extensive data suggesting that exercise, especially aerobic exercise, may help patients recovering from a concussion. Some of the ways physical therapy may help treat concussion include:

  • Determining the appropriate amount of time to rest and recover before treatment.
  • Restoring strength and endurance through closely monitored exercises, and overcoming exercise intolerance.
  • Improving balance and confidence through specific monitored exercises.
  • Improving headaches and pain through stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Helping patients return to normal activity or sport through renewed confidence in endurance and strength.

Professional Physical Therapy for Concussion

Rest and monitored physical exercise or activity can help patients recover from a concussion. We know the trauma and life-altering changes a concussion can bring, and are dedicated to helping those who are suffering from the symptoms. If you are interested in learning more about how exercise and physical therapy can help treat the effects of a concussion, give the professionals at New Heights Physical Therapy a call today to set up a consultation today!

Manual Therapy: Scar Tissue Massage

scar tissue massage in Portland OR - New Heights Physical Therapy

Surgery, fractures, sprains, and even cuts can lead to injured tissues that cause scar tissue. While this is part of the normal healing process, it can become an issue if the scar develops improperly and is left untreated. Many people are unaware of the problems associated with scar tissue and are led to believe they will have to live with the lumpy, unattractive scar for the rest of their lives. This is where physical therapy can help! At New Heights Therapy, we’re dedicated to providing our patients with helpful information and compassionate service that will aid the healing of scar tissue.

Causes of Scar Tissue

When an injury to a muscle, tendon, skin, or ligament in the body occurs, the inflammatory system will begin to heal the injury site. During this process, old debris in the injured area is cleaned up before new cells are brought in that will eventually become healthy tissue. Some of the new cells are collagen cells, which is what causes scar tissue. Normally, collagen is aligned in specific ways that promote strength in the tissues. However, the body does not know how to arrange collagen cells after surgery or injury, causing them to clump together, lose their natural structure, and cause scar tissue. The good news is that this newly developed scar tissue is not inherently permanent and can be remodeled to look like normal, healthy tissue once more.

3 Reasons Why Scar Tissue Management is Important

Once scar tissue develops, it’s essential to work on promoting healthy tissue as soon as possible before possible problems arise. Remodeling the scar makes it so the injured tissue can tolerate the stress and forces the body encounters every day from regular activity. Tissue remodeling can help in three ways:

  • Decrease pain
  • Improve range of motion in surrounding joints and muscles
  • Restore normal mobility and function

Using Physical Therapy to Promote Healthy Tissue

Before undergoing treatment, it is necessary to consult with your both your doctor and your physical therapist before proceeding with any treatment. In cases where scars are not fully healed, massage could delay healing or even open and expose the scar to bacteria or infection. If you have scar tissue that has fully healed, a physical therapist may perform scar tissue massage to help with the remodeling process. Massage promotes the gentle stretching of the scar tissue, helping align the collagen fibers

Scar Tissue Massage Techniques

When you start physical therapy for scar tissue management, there are several procedures your therapist will perform to help heal scar tissue:

  • Lubrication. A small amount of baby oil, lotion, or vitamin E oil may be used to keep the scar and surrounding skin pliable during massage.
  • Cross friction massage. This involves using one of two fingers to massage the scar in a direction perpendicular to the line of the scar. Performed for 5–10 minutes, this technique ensures proper alignment of collagen fibers.
  • Myofascial release. In this technique, the hands are used to slowly and lightly massage the skin and underlying tissues around the scar. Your physical therapist can feel for restrictions of tissue, also known as fascia, and work to improve movement in those areas.
  • Instrument assisted massage. A relatively new technique, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (ISATM) involves using specialty stainless steel instruments of various sizes to massage and mobilize tissues, helping break up the built-up collagen cells.

Along with these massage techniques, stretching and flexibility exercises may also be implemented to help elongate and improve the mobility of injured tissues.

Professional Help for Scar Tissue Management

Physical therapy can play a vital role in properly treating and healing scar tissue. Whether you’ve developed scar tissue after a surgery, a car accident, or a cut, fracture, or burn, it’s important to talk to a physical therapist to learn how scar tissue massage can help promote remodeled tissue. At New Heights Physical Therapy, we are trained in helping patients treating their scar tissue through a variety of techniques. Give us a call today to start healing your scar tissue!

FAQs About Scar Tissue Massage

Can PT help scar tissue?
Yes, physical therapy will help improve movement and the healing of scar tissue.

Can you massage away scar tissue?
Yes if the scar is no more than two-years-old. We perform three different massage techniques to help heal scar tissue including, cross friction massage, myofascial release, and instrument-assisted massage.Is it good to massage scar tissue?
Yes, there are different massage techniques physical therapists use to break down scar tissue and collagen cells. This helps align the collagen fibers.

Can massage break down scar tissue?
Yes. the body does not know how to arrange collagen cells after surgery or injury, causing them to clump together and lose their natural structure. Massage breaks them down and helps align the collagen fibers.

How long does it take scar tissue to heal after surgery?
Every patient and surgery is different but it typically takes about 6-8 weeks for scar tissue to heal.

How do you break down scar tissue?
To break down scar tissue we first lubricate the affected area with baby oil, lotion, or vitamin E oil. Then we’ll perform different massage techniques including cross friction massage and myofascial release which help improve the alignment of collagen fibers and improve movement. We may also use a steel instrument to break up the built-up collagen cells.

Can you stretch out scar tissue?
We often use kinesiology tape on an injury as it provides a low-intensity stretch to help properly align collagen cells.

Does physical therapy help with scar tissue?
Yes, a physical therapist will massage the scar tissue to promote healing and help align the collagen fibers. A physical therapist will also help improve your range of motion and help alleviate any pain.