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Understanding Aquatic Therapy

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Study: Outcomes From Physical Therapy vs Surgery for Cervical Radiculopathy Similar After 2 Years (Spine. 2013 Jun 17.)

"Structured physiotherapy should be tried before surgery is chosen," concluded researchers of a study comparing surgery followed by physical therapy and physical therapy alone for cervical radiculopathy. Even though the results of the 24-month randomized controlled trial, published this week in Spine, showed greater improvement in the first postoperative year, the differences between the groups decreased after the second year.
The study compared 2 approaches to cervical radiculopathy: anterior cervical decompression and fusion (ACDF) with a physical therapy program (31 subjects) and the same physical therapy program alone (32 subjects). The physical therapy program included general and specific exercises and pain coping strategies. Outcome measures were disability (Neck Disability Index, NDI), neck- and arm-pain intensity using a visual analog scale (VAS), and the patient's global assessment.  At 12 months, there was no significant difference between groups for NDI or VAS for arm-pain intensity. The surgical group scored significantly better on the VAS for neck-pain intensity, and 87% of patients in the surgical group self-rated their symptoms as "better/much better" compared with 62% of those in the physical therapy-only group. However, at 24 months, both groups showed significant reduction in NDI, neck pain, and arm pain.
Home>News & Publications>PT in Motion>News Now>Study: Outcomes From Physical Therapy vs Surgery for Cervical Radiculopathy Similar After 2 Years (Spine. 2013 Jun 17. [Epub ahead of print])

Cycling for Fun Leads to Better Fitness!

A new study has found that children who cycle for fun are more fit. Maybe we adults should take heed! Children who did cycle for fun, even those with limited cycling skills, were still more fit than those who only biked to school. The reason is only a small percentage of children bike to and from school to begin with. The limitations include traffic getting to and from school, neighborhood safety, and the child’s cycling abilities. But no one has really compared children’s fitness to recreational cycling.

Dr. Gavin Sandercock’s study clearly showed better fitness for children who biked for fun. Children can pick their route, distance, safety, and even mix up the intensity and duration. Also children and parents can choose safe routes and ride together to be good role models for their children.

The interesting question here is, if it works for kids, will it carry over to adults? Maybe we need to dust off the old banana seat bike and go for a ride!

Sandercock, Gavin, Ph.D, “Active Voice: The Fittest Children Cycle for Fun.” ACSM Sports Medicine Bulletin, April, 2012.

Does Wii Really Work for Exercise?

Well, yes and no. Is it a replacement exercise for those already exercising and fairly fit? Probably not. But is it beneficial to get the sedentary individuals moving? Yes. It is certainly better than playing sedentary gaming, but by how much?

Researchers at Southeastern Louisiana University tested 8 healthy young women using Wii Fit games for 10 minutes each. One session involved playing beginning and intermediate levels of hula, and a second involved beginning and intermediate level steps.

They found that the lowest VO2 percentage occurred with the beginning step game (10.13%) and the highest values (39.8% VO2) were during the intermediate hula game. It was also determined that the beginning steps game was equivalent to walking speed of 2.5 mph while the intermediate hula game was equivalent to walking 3.6 mph.

So, what does this mean? For a person not motivated by structured exercise programs, try a Wii Fit game. If they are deconditioned, start with the beginner step class if appropriate and safe. They can progress to the intermediate hula game when ready and have fun in the process.

And maybe later, we can get them to bike for fun!


Worley, J. et al, “Metabolic Responses to Wii Fit TM Video Games at Different Game Levels.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Vol. 25, No. 3, March 2011.

Recovery From A Marathon

With the Boston Marathon just completed, now comes the well-deserved recovery for those runners. Interesting enough, with all the research on performance running, lactic acid and so forth, there are not a lot of studies on the recovery after an activity as strenuous as a marathon.

One popular belief is that however many miles you race, that is how many days it takes to recover, so a 10 mile race needs 10 days of recovery. This has been the thinking since the 1970’s but has never been verified through research. And, although replenishing carbohydrates and protein can restore glycogen within 24 hours, this is dealing with short-term recovery.

If your muscles are sore and you do not train, you decondition or “de- train.” Dr. Maria Urso, a research physiologist at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine states the challenge in researching recovery after a marathon are all the physiological variables that take place making it impossible to make one measure the gold standard.

So, What to suggest? Dr. Urso recommends spending 2-3 weeks after a marathon doing a reverse taper.Whatever the runner does to taper before the race (gradually decrease intensity and duration of workouts to rest up before a race), do it in reverse after the race. This way, most marathoners would be back to baseline performance within 2-3 weeks.


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