Welcome to the Core Update, AC Health’s weekly roundup of the patient-centered research and news every healthcare professional needs to make their practice succeed.

Can You Use One Addiction to Stop Another — And to Motivate Your Patients?

Original Story

What’s Going On

Everyone’s addicted to their phones these days. But, researchers wanted to know if that device-addiction help with another addiction in young people: Vaping.

They carried out a clinical trial on 2,588 young adults who were regular e-cigarette or vape users.

Researchers asked participants to subscribe to a text messaging program. They received daily prompts and texts, asking them about their vaping patterns, sharing stories from their peers, and giving useful tips for abstinence.

At the end of the 30 day trial, 24.1% of the treatment group and 18.6% of the control group stopped vaping at statistically significant levels.

The findings lead researchers to conclude that yes, it turns out that our texting addiction can be useful, after all.

Why This Matters

This study does not break brand-new ground. Text messages have been used as a motivational or promotional tool before, both in the field and in the lab.

The thing that is really captivating about this study is the applications that it can have in various parts of general health.

If text-messaging can have an impact on e-cigarette abstinence, it is possible that it might also apply to other addictive behaviors.

And if it works for abstinence, why not flip it around to build motivation as well?

How could personalized text messages — or selfie-videos, or photos — be used to motivate your patients?

Can You Use One Addiction to Stop Another — And to Motivate Your Patients?

Original Story

What’s Going On

Physical therapist Dr. Jennifer Penrose’s patients were floundering in the overweight-exercise vicious cycle:

The patient couldn’t perform the exercises for their joint pain because they’re out of shape…
Which meant they gain more weight…
Which made their pain worse…
Which continued to block their compliance!
Traditional physical therapy tools weren’t enough to break the cycle; she needed a new tool in her toolkit.

In Dr. Penrose’s case, that tool was nutrition. “Information around nutrition and eating habits was a missing piece in my practice,” she told Thurston Talk.

So, she sought out a nutritionist partner, Dr. Nancy Miller-Ilhi, to create an eight-week program to help 20 patients learn about better eating and stick to the program.

And? They got the results they were looking for. The average participant:

Lost eight pounds, trading fat for muscle; and
Lost two inches off their waists — a full 2% of total body fat.
Other participants had remarkable individual progress, including one patient with chronic osteoarthritis from a sports-related injury could restart proper hiking and workouts — activities denied her only a few months before.

The key, according to Dr. Penrose, was the group format: “Having a group to lean on made it easier.”

Why This Matters

Okay, it’s a small group of 20 patients, reported by practitioners who clearly have a stake in the game. (The article itself came from a sponsored advertisement, linking out to a particular type of trademarked exercise system.)

However! The anecdotal evidence is nothing to sneeze at. And, the observation that treating patients as a group — rather than as individuals — helped outcomes may be a worth experimenting with at a post-pandemic practice.

So, if you find yourself with several patients who are trapped in the overweight – pain cycle and haven’t responded well to individual programs, perhaps you should try helping them all together in a support group.

Covid-19 Pushed Mental Health Online — And It Worked (Mostly)

Original Story

What’s Going On

Covid-19 forced many providers of traditionally face-to-face therapies to take their services online, including pediatric psychiatry providers in South Wales, Australia.

A study newly published this week in Australasian Psychiatry details the clinicians’ observations of the forced transition to “e-mental health” services.

The study offered a mixed bag of results for e-mental health services during the pandemic, including:

  • Extended reach of services, as appointments were no longer bound by physical proximity;
  • Increased access to mental health services in general;
  • Limitations due to device and internet access, as well as physician familiarity and capability of performing services remotely; and
  • Limits to risk assessment and child development monitoring.

The researchers conclude that a hybrid model of care post-pandemic is certainly feasible and could be a great addition to the current medical offerings. However, such a model would require “practical, yet flexible policies and protocols” to keep everyone — families, patients, and clinicians — comfortable and safe.

Why This Matters

It seems that our world circumstances and advances in technology have prompted the adoption of an e-healthcare model sooner than human physicians and clinicians can accommodate.

Many of the limitations observed in this study were mostly from humans interacting through technology, not necessarily any hazards with the technology itself (aside from general and equitable access to modern devices and internet).

So really, the only things preventing a surge in hybrid healthcare plans are the practitioners themselves, as well as the patients’ willingness to participate.

And, human behavior can be changed — with the right incentives, of course.

Will your therapy practice be in the vanguard of this new service frontier?

This Empathetic PT Helped a Covid-19 Long-Hauler Get Off Oxygen

Original Story

What’s Going On

“Long hauler” Shannon Gray spent six months in the hospital fighting Covid-19 — and has spent every day since then battling the long-term side effects of the virus.

Gray continues to suffer from dizziness and circulatory issues, seeing a neurologist and a cardiologist every week.

But to that? She adds physical therapy at Physical Therapy Central.

According to PT — and fellow Covid-19 survivor — Carrie Gaylon, about 10% of her patients are dealing with the long-lasting effects of Covid-19.

Her therapy for Gray and other long-haulers addresses basic, everyday needs such as getting in and out of bed, which can be difficult for those still recovering.

Gray credits her recent success getting off of supplemental oxygen to her physical therapy program, which “did what inhalers and medicine alone couldn’t.”

Why This Matters

Shannon Gray’s story isn’t unique, as more than 500,000 Americans contracted Covid-19. Inevitably, some of those patients were already participating in physical therapy programs.

What’s interesting, however, is the article’s highlight of the medical community’s skepticism of long-hauler complaints:

[Shannon] Gray, like most [long-hauler patients], believed complaints about COVID recovery had been ignored or brushed aside. [PT Carrie] Gaylon said, “They feel like, you know what, whoever has not had this, whether it be a family member or their healthcare provider, doesn’t understand.”

Don’t be the skeptical healthcare provider who thought a former Covid-19 patient was making excuses. That’s a fast way to lose a patient to a more understanding and empathetic therapist like Gaylon, who can say she’s “been there.”

At the very least, long-haulers suffer from a myriad of physical symptoms originating from or exacerbated by their Covid-19 infection — balance, flexibility, breathing — all of which can be helped by therapists like you.

They could be long-term patients — if they think their provider understands and cares.

This TikTok Chiropractor Stretches With… A Door Handle?

Original Story

What’s Going On

Sometimes, videos of you doing an exercise are all that it takes to engage a prospective patient.

Take chiropractor Brian Meenan of the Pittsburgh Premier Chiropractic Clinic.

All he did was film a quick selfie-video of how to stretch your lower back with the simplest, most common household tool — a door handle.

Not only was it catchy and easy to remember, it actually works — which a lot of people appreciated!


RIP THAT.... back pain. #chiropractor #learnontiktok #physicaltherapy #tiktokpartner #LOWBACK

♬ Rip x Caroline - Kuya Magik

Why This Matters

We share this story for three reasons:

  1. Custom videos featuring you — a “real” person, not some perfect model — can go a long way to engaging a patient, as this TikTok clearly shows.
  2. By integrating everyday objects into your patient exercises — like your everyday lever door handle — rather than more specialized tools like a foam roller, you’ll help lower the bar to patient compliance. Now, when they see a door handle like that, they’ll be reminded to do their exercise!
  3. RIP THAT BACK PAIN! (– or, don’t be afraid to have fun!)

SLP Assistant Helps Local Police Communicate With Non-verbal Citizens

Original Story

What’s Going On

A toddler in Eagle Point, Georgia, got lost on his way home from school. To add to the stress and anxiety, the little boy was non-verbal.

The Eagle Point Police Department called up the local high school to see if they had anyone on staff who could communicate with children who couldn’t speak.

While they managed to find the toddler’s home before the high school resources could respond, one speech-language pathology assistant — Cherry Wenzel — volunteered to help.

She created a chart for non-verbal communication, with images and words to help another non-verbal individual express their feelings and engage with officers who may not know sign language or may be too young to write.

Wenzel, along with other SLPs, explains that charts could also help interactions between police officers and citizens who have other conditions, such as dementia and PTSD.

Why This Matters

While it might seem like a no-brainer for the police department to already have materials for situations just like this one, you may be surprised to find out that your local department has no materials for this sort of contingency.

Partner up with a police department in your community, as well as any department where first responders work. Volunteer to make — or find and print out — materials that could help in emergency situations like these.

Not only will your community be well-served by your forethought, but you may also discover your name starting to buzz around as a provider people can depend on.

Mind the (Service) Gap — And Fill It With Your Practice

Original Story

What’s Going On

A Colorado Springs PT clinic owner, Diane Baggs, kept getting referrals for pediatric patients, to help treat those with “functional deficits, neurological diagnoses, and developmental delays.”

She’d send these special cases on, but the nearest clinics were in Denver — quite a haul for most families.

So, when pediatric PT specialist Samantha Cohen asked Baggs about renting some room at her adult clinic for a children’s clinic, she offered to partner up.

“We’ve heard stories of parents going multiple times up to Denver for the medically complex children because there simply wasn’t any place, they were comfortable going to,” Cohen said.

Now, they’ve opened their practice for local Colarado Springs children in need for their own specialized therapy, and are in the process of getting the word out to other area providers.

“These kids need a team of providers,” their liaison told North Springs Edition newspaper. “They need everyone working together to make sure we are on the same page.”

Why This Matters

If you keep seeing a pattern in the types of cases coming through your practice, then consider taking advantage of the opportunity that keeps knocking on your door.

That’s what this clinic owner did. Now, she not only has a partner to handle the specialized care for kids who really needed a local provider, but also some excellent free publicity for her practice.

So, what sorts of injuries or therapies are you seeing frequently? Is there a market gap you can slide your practice into, to help more people in your community?

Ready to upgrade your approach to home exercises for a custom, patient-centered practice?

Then request a demo of the AC Health app and get a free customized app for your practice!