06Jun

Whoever first said the cure is worse than the illness must have been treated by a physical therapist.

The bending and stretching and twisting and turning and all the other manipulations and exercises they put you through might make you wonder if your physical therapist wasn’t a medieval torturer in a past life. But just when you’re thinking of giving up, you discover you can move your shoulder more naturally; the pain in your knee is almost gone; you can climb stairs and carry groceries and get back to doing what you used to be able to do.

For working those kinds of miracles every day, October is set aside as National Physical Therapy Month. It’s a way to recognize the nation’s physical therapists, but, as the American Physical Therapy Association says, it’s also an “annual opportunity to raise awareness about the benefits of physical therapy.”

While much of the work of a physical therapist is helping with recovery from an injury and surgery, you’ll find therapists helping improve mobility in seniors and those with debilitating conditions. Others work as trainers in gyms, colleges and with amateur and professional sports to improve fitness and help avoid injury. Prevention is always better than rehabilitation, which is why you’ll hear physical therapists urging us this month especially to get out and get active.

Becoming a licensed physical therapist is hard work and takes no less than three years. You first earn an undergraduate degree in a health-related field then earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy studying anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, orthotics and prosthetics, nutrition and other even more specialized courses. Hands-on clinical experience is always part of the curriculum.

To practice, they have to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. Individual states have other requirements.

Many new graduates enter residency programs where they begin to specialize in particular areas like geriatrics and pediatrics and fitness.

Now that we’ve helped raise your awareness of the profession, be sure to thank your physical therapist and do your stretching and exercises.

Photo by Yulissa Tagle on Unsplash

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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

Neanderthal Genes Make COVID Worse for Some

An impaired immune system, age, obesity and underlying medical issues are the well-known risk factors for becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.

Genetics, too, play a role, helping to explain why some young and otherwise healthy individuals will have a severe reaction and most others don’t. Variants on one region of the human chromosome are behind the increased risk.

But why do some people have the variant and others don’t? Blame the Neanderthals of southern Europe.

Related genetic variants were previously linked to Neanderthals, so researchers sought to determine if the COVID variant did, too. Collaborating geneticists in Japan, Germany and Sweden traced the variant back 60,000 years to a time when modern day humans and Neanderthals co-existed and interbred.

In a paper published online by Nature, they reported that DNA recovered from a Neanderthal from southern Europe was found to have the variant. Two Neanderthals from Siberia and a Denisovan, another human species that ranged across Asia, did not.

“It is striking that the genetic heritage from Neanderthals has such tragic consequences during the current pandemic,” said Svante Pääbo, who leads the Human Evolutionary Genomics Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University. Those carrying the variant have up to three times the risk of requiring mechanical ventilation.

Hugo Zeberg, first author of the paper and a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Karolinska Institutet said, “Obviously, factors such as your age and other diseases you may have also affect how severely you are affected by the virus. But among genetic factors, this is the strongest one.”

Why this gene region is associated with a higher risk of a severe COVID reaction isn’t known. “This is something that we and others are now investigating as quickly as possible,” said Pääbo, in an account published on SciTechDaily.com.

Photo by Frank Eiffert on Unsplash

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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

Nurses Find New Mission Running Testing Sites

Nurses sidelined by the coronavirus are finding a new mission staffing the drive-in testing facilities that are rapidly opening all over the country.

When governments ordered non-essential businesses to close to help limit the spread of COVID-19, doctors’ offices, ambulatory surgical centers and clinics were among them. Elective procedures such as cosmetic surgery, knee and hip replacements and cataract removal were cancelled.

Many of these RNs were redeployed providing in-patient care. Others went to work opening and managing testing centers.

Nurse.com article describes what it’s like to make the transition from hands-on patient care to hands-off testing.

“I think that feels weird to people,” says Kadie Randel, at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Idaho. Nursing manager at the hospital’s Primary Care Pediatrics, she now is lead RN at one of the health system’s testing centers in the state.

Halfway across the country, Melissa Bacon, nurse manager of the Cleveland Clinic’s Twinsburg Family Health and Surgery Center, now runs the Clinic’s drive-thru testing site in Cleveland, overseeing some 40 staff.

“As many healthcare systems, we had to adapt to this new world of COVID-19, so many of the employees have been deployed to other places to support the needs of our COVID-19 patients,” she told Nurse.com.

Medical assistants comprise most of the test site team, Bacon said. Other hospital professionals from nursing education, infection prevention and quality support the drive-thru testers teaching “about proper donning and doffing of PPE, what PPE is needed for each testing site patient care role, as well as proper swabbing technique.”

The same is true at the Boise, Idaho site, said Randel. “People have been very willing to step up and learn and to take on this challenging situation.”

Working at a drive-in test site is very different. Besides being covered with masks, face shields, gowns and gloves for most of the day, being outside presents its own unique challenges, she said.

“We’re in the Rocky Mountains. It can be gorgeous and 75 degrees one day and 40 degrees the next,” she explained, adding the facility had to close one day because of high winds. “And of course we’ll close for lightening, but otherwise we’re staying open.”

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

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Green Key