Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Physical therapy exercises for Mommy’s Thumb/Phone Thumb


“Mommy’s Thumb” (De Quervain's tenosynovitis) is a common injury to parents with infants due to repetitive strain use of the thumb and wrist. Repetitive actions such as lifting your baby can aggravate the symptoms of Mommy’s Thumb.

Not surprisingly, the rising use of smartphones is also causing De Quervain's tenosynovitis. U.S. smartphone penetration has exceeded 80% and mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) now represent 57% of U.S. internet traffic. As Nellie Bowles in the NY Times article “Me and My Numb Thumb: A Tale of Tech, Texts and Tendons” discovered, constant smartphone use can lead to debilitating pain in her thumb.

The Mayo Clinic identifies that people between the ages of 30 and 50 are more prone to developing De Quervain's tenosynovitis resulting in adults experiencing technology related injuries more frequently than teenagers.

Michael Curtis, PT in his blog “Mommy’s Thumb: Treating and Preventing DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis” recommends using a splint to allow the hand’s tendons to rest and heal. He also recommends a series of strengthening exercises as part of treating De Quervain's tenosynovitis.

We’ve added his exercises into a Home Exercise Program (HEP) using the PT-Helper CONNECT platform and presented on the PT-Helper mobile app. These sample exercises can be quickly downloaded into the PT-Helper mobile app using

HEP code: 7BBF1AC2

You can also find these exercises in the Finger and Hand category in the PT-Helper mobile app to add to your Favorites which allows you to customize each exercise’s repetitions, sets, and hold time.

Reminder: Please consult your physician before engaging in any physical activity and stop if you experience pain or discomfort.


  1. Thumb Extension with Rubber Band

  2. Rest your hand vertically on a table and wrap a rubber band around your thumb, index and middle finger. Raise your thumb up against the band and hold. Slowly return your thumb back to its starting position. Repeat.


  3. Thumb Abduction with Resistance Band

  4. Rest your hand palm up on a table and wrap a rubber band around your thumb, index and middle finger. Raise your thumb up vertically against the band and hold. Slowly return your thumb back to its starting position. Repeat.


  5. Putty Squeeze

  6. Place a small amount of putty in the palm of your affected hand. Slowly squeeze the putty firmly. Reshape the putty. Repeat.


Start your Free 30-day Trial of the PT-Helper CONNECT tool for physical therapists and other therapy providers, so you too may create and prescribe Home Exercise Programs like the one shown above.





Click here to view Finger and Hand exercises currently available within the PT-Helper Exercise Library.




Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How to Lead Your Physical Therapy Patient to Care About Their Recovery

As an active individual and ex-physical therapy patient, it was quite a surprise to find out that almost 70% of physical therapy patients don’t do their home exercises. My personal expectation with physical therapy is to recover from my injury and get stronger so that I could return to doing the things that I love to do as soon as possible. That not everyone shares these same goals was quite a shock.

My first experience noticing other people don't do their exercises was over 10 years ago after my ACL surgery. I was described as an A+ patient and would religiously do my home exercises and make an intense effort to get stronger during the in-clinic exercise program. At one afternoon session, I briefly met another patient in the common workout area of the clinic. On my next clinic visit the following week, my physical therapist, Josh Lenthall at Panther Physical Therapy, mentioned to me that I made an impact on this patient who told Josh that he would be committed to do his exercises after watching me put a lot of effort into doing my exercises.

In this Psychology Today article “The Curse of Apathy: Sources and Solutions”, the author writes “through much psychological research, it’s now accepted science that you must experience feelings about something if you’re to take personally meaningful action on it.”

Maybe it was the feeling of peer pressure that motivated that individual to decide that he could do a better job in caring about his recovery. 

Adam Meakens in his Sports Physio blog believes that humor (or humour since he’s British) is an essential part of physiotherapy. Camaraderie, humor and laughter is used in the fitness world to make exercises fun and enjoyable. Can you make it fun?

One sports rehab clinic uses a bell that the patient gets to ring when they accomplish a major milestone, something like when an ACL surgery patient is able to touch his/her heel to their butt achieving full range of motion. The bell ringing is greeted with applause by the staff and other patients. Talking with their ex-patients, their excitement to be able to ring the bell as well as their support for other people's successes creates an atmosphere of hard work towards recovery.

Each individual will have their own unique drivers that will motivate them to take meaningful action. Take the time to work with your patient to understand them and get better outcomes.


Start your Free 30-day Trial of the PT-Helper CONNECT tool for physical therapists and other therapy providers to create and prescribe Home Exercise Programs.






Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Exercises to Recover From Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Since the launch of the IBM Personal Computer in 1981, annual sales of desktop computers has exploded to peak at approximately 350 million units/year in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The massive adoption of computers has led to the belief that spending too much time working over a keyboard and mouse would cause hand pain and numbness, commonly referred to as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).

However, a study by the Mayo Clinic indicated that there is little clinical evidence suggesting that keyboard use is a risk factor for developing CTS.

An article by Cornell University Ergonomics: Human Centered Design argues that the Mayo Clinic study was flawed as the study did not include user posture assessment. The Cornell study states that “ergonomic research shows that computer users often adopt poor wrist postures, and working in deviated postures is thought to increase the risk of injury.”

The National Safety Council (NSC) in this 2011 article “Workplace Myth” in their Safety and Health Magazine recognizes that computer keyboard use does not lead to an increase risk of CTS but may lead to other pains and strains in the wrist and hand.

To reduce the risk of some upper-extremity disorders related to computer use, the Harvard Medical School recommends:
  • When working on a keyboard or with a mouse, keep your wrists in a neutral position, rather than flexed downward or extended upward.
  • Take a break from computer work and stretch every hour. Between these breaks, take shorter breaks to rest your hands, either palms up on your lap or on a wrist rest.
  • Keep all items you may need access to – documents, telephone, keyboard, mouse and supplies – no more than 16-18 inches away to avoid awkward postures or reaching.
  • Place the computer monitor directly in front of you, at arm’s length.
  • Consider setting your keyboard on an adjustable tray that allows your forearms to remain parallel to the floor, with elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Wrists should form a straight line with your forearms.
  • Keep your mouse close to the keyboard and at the same height. A padded wrist rest may help reduce strain.

Martin Kielema, a physical therapist at Always Fysio recommends a combination of stretching and strengthening your lower arm muscles to help you recover from CTS. We’ve added his exercises into a Home Exercise Program (HEP) using the PT-Helper CONNECT platform and presented on the PT-Helper mobile app.

These sample exercises can be quickly downloaded into the PT-Helper mobile app using

HEP code: 520BE86B

You can also find these exercises in the Wrist and Elbow category in the PT-Helper mobile app to add to your Favorites which allows you to customize each exercise’s repetitions, sets, and hold time.

Reminder: Please consult your physician before engaging in any physical activity and stop if you experience pain or discomfort.

  1. Wrist Flexor Stretch
  2. Keeping elbow straight, grasp palm side of hand and slowly bend your wrist backward until a stretch is felt on underside of forearm. Hold. Relax to starting position. Repeat 3 times while holding for 30 seconds. Do this exercise multiple times a day.

  3. Wrist Extension Resisted
  4. Place your arm resting on a table with your wrist hanging off the side of the table, your palm down, and your hand hanging down holding a weight. Bend your wrist up, pause, then slowly lower down to starting position. You may choose not to use a weight if you are not strong enough. Repeat 10 times.

  5. Wrist Flexion Resisted
  6. Place your arm resting on a table with your wrist hanging off the side of the table, your palm up, and your hand hanging down holding a weight. Bend your wrist up, pause, then slowly lower down to starting position.  You may choose not to use a weight if you are not strong enough. Repeat 10 times.



Start your Free 30-day Trial of the PT-Helper CONNECT tool for physical therapists and other therapy providers, so you too may create and prescribe Home Exercise Programs like the one shown above.








Click here to view Wrist and Elbow exercises currently available within the PT-Helper Exercise Library.



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How to Know If Your Physical Therapy Patient is Completing Their Home Exercise Program

It’s quite interesting talking with physical therapists about how they know if their patients are doing their home exercises. Many therapists will be able to tell immediately if their patients have not been doing their home exercises once they start manipulating them on the table. They can tell by the patient’s range of motion or by their strength improvements (or the lack of it).

We also hear stories about the patient telling their therapists that they’ve been doing their home exercises regularly only to immediately follow the statement up with the question “How do I do this exercise?” when the therapist tells them to start their in-clinic program.

In the article “Why Some People Are More Motivated Than Others (And How to Increase Your Exercise Drive)”, the author identifies three of the most common implicit motives: power, affiliation, and achievement.

For patients who do their exercises in-clinic, affiliation is the most likely motivator as they feel happiest being with friends and are motivated to do their exercises within the presence of their therapist. Extending this emotional component to their home exercises will help achieve home compliance.

The PT-Helper mobile app can be used by the therapist to give the patient the perception of affiliation. The app will walk them through their exercises just as if they were in the clinic by counting their hold times, repetitions and sets. The mobile app will also keep track every time the patient completes an exercise. You can ask them to show you their exercise history at each visit to increase the mental perception that you are watching over them.

We have received feedback from PT-Helper mobile app users who love to show their exercise history to their therapists. Clearly these individuals experience satisfaction and happiness being able to show their therapists that they’ve achieved their goals.

Physical therapists can help their patients use the PT-Helper mobile app by utilizing PT-Helper’s CONNECT web-based exercise prescription service. CONNECT is easy to use and makes it easy for your patient to download their exercises to their mobile app. CONNECT can remotely record when a patient completes an exercise giving quick update on their compliance.

There’s nothing like establishing a relationship with your patient that helps drive their individual motivations. Using PT-Helper CONNECT and the PT-Helper mobile app can help you tap into the affiliation motivation and improve home exercise compliance.

Start your Free 30-day Trial of the PT-Helper CONNECT tool for physical therapists and other therapy providers.




Tuesday, April 24, 2018

PT-Helper's April Blog Posts for Physical Therapists

How to Introduce the PT-Helper App to an Older Patient
Published On April 17, 2018
Dr. Roger Wong, a world-renowned geriatrics doctor recommends using technology to provide greater independence and the ability for the older individual to stay at home. Follow 3 easy steps to add the PT-Helper mobile app to your patient's smartphone or tablet to set them up with their prescribed exercises.


A Pre-hab PT Home Exercise Program Prior to Knee Replacement From Peerwell.co
Published On April 10, 2018
Pre-hab exercises prior to knee replacement surgery can help patients achieve improved outcomes. We have curated 10 exercises from Peerwell into a Home Exercise Program on PT-Helper CONNECT. The HEP program can synchronized with the PT-Helper mobile app with HEP code C936967.

Reminder: Please consult your physician before engaging in any physical activity and stop if you experience pain or discomfort. 


An Easy Solution for Your Patient Who "Forgets" to Complete Their HEP
Published On April 3, 2018
The PT-Helper mobile app provides your patients with 3 daily reminders to notify your patients on their smartphones that it's time to do their exercises. Multiple reminders can be used to break apart a large exercise program into smaller programs that can fit into the patient's day.


Subscribe to the PT-Helper Blog here so you don’t miss these helpful compilations and BONUS, you’ll receive Our Secret Guide, unveiling the secrets your patients are keeping from you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How to Introduce the PT-Helper App to an Older Patient

While talking with different therapists, we often hear the concern that their older patients are not technology savvy.

Interestingly enough, Dr. Roger Wong, a world-renowned geriatrics doctor in the TEDx video below recommends using technology to provide greater independence and the ability for the older individual to stay at home. Technology can increase safety and increase socialization. He recommends giving seniors a smartphone to help keep track of them with GPS and to improve socialization with Facetime and other similar apps.



If you have an older patient, find out if they have a smartphone. If they don’t have a smartphone, ask if they have a tablet at home and to bring it with them the next time they come in for an appointment. Tablets are often easier to use for older patients with the larger screen size making it easier to see.

You can help your patient install the PT-Helper mobile app onto their smartphone or tablet. 

You can then enter in their unique HEP code from our exercise prescription service, CONNECT, into the app for them.

You can also set up their 3 daily reminders to alert them that they need to do their exercises.

Once you’ve added their HEP code, you can show your patient how to open the PT-Helper mobile app, select your company logo, select the first exercise and press Start. Once they have pressed start, it’s easy for them to follow along with the visual and audible guides to complete their home exercises.

Examples of the mobile app screenshots below include the logo from BreakOut Advisors & Rehabilitation.



Start your Free 30-day Trial of the PT-Helper CONNECT tool for physical therapists and other therapy providers, so you too may create and prescribe Home Exercise Programs like the one shown above.




Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Pre-hab PT Home Exercise Program prior to knee replacement from Peerwell.co

In 2010, there were approximately 700,000 knee replacements (arthoplasty) in the United States. The number of knee replacement surgeries is expected to grow to 3.48 million procedures by 2030 which is a reflection of the expected growth in the population over 45 years of age.

In the article “Pre-hab for Surgery” on the Arthritis Foundation’s website, “patients who had participated in water- and land-based strength training, and aerobic and flexibility exercises for six weeks prior to their surgeries reduced their odds of needing inpatient rehabilitation by 73 percent”.

However, the BMJ Open article “Does preoperative rehabilitation for patients planning to undergo joint replacement surgery improve outcomes? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials” questions the benefits of pre-hab and comes to the conclusion that “Existing evidence suggests that prehabilitation may slightly improve early postoperative pain and function among patients undergoing joint replacement; however, effects remain too small and short-term to be considered clinically-important, and did not affect key outcomes of interest”.


From the patient’s perspective, pre-hab helps set up the habits and intent of exercise that is critical during post-surgery rehabilitation. Especially for those individuals who have been suffering severe pain and have not been exercising.


Peerwell.co has an article “10 PREHAB EXERCISES TO PREPARE YOU FOR JOINT REPLACEMENT SURGERY” with a set of exercises that we’ve curated into a Home Exercise Program (HEP) using the PT-Helper CONNECT platform and presented on the PT-Helper mobile app.

These sample exercises can be quickly downloaded into the PT-Helper mobile app using

HEP code: C936967

You can also find these exercises in the Knee & Hip category in the PT-Helper mobile app to add to your Favorites which allows you to customize each exercise’s repetitions, sets, and hold time.

Reminder: Please consult your physician before engaging in any physical activity and stop if you experience pain or discomfort.


SOME OF THE EXERCISES INCLUDE:
  1. Ankle Pumps
  2. While sitting or lying down, pump your ankles up and down.

  3. Quad Sets
  4. Lie on your back with one knee bent and the other leg as straight as possible. Place a rolled towel under your affected ankle. Tighten your thigh muscle on the straight leg and push the back of your knee down towards the ground. Hold. Relax. Repeat.

  5. Gluteal Sets
  6. While lying on your back with your legs straight, squeeze your buttocks together. Hold. Relax. Repeat.

  7. Heel Slides
  8. Lie on your back with one leg bent, foot flat on the floor, while other leg is straight. Keep your heel on the floor and slide your heel towards your buttocks bending at the knee. You will feel your hamstrings working and a stretch in the knee. Pause, slowly lower to starting position keeping heel on floor.

Start your Free 30-day Trial of the PT-Helper CONNECT tool for physical therapists and other therapy providers, so you too may create and prescribe Home Exercise Programs like the one shown above.




Click here to view Knee & Hip exercises currently available within the PT-Helper Exercise Library.