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Physical Therapists Help Obese Patients Get Moving

Physical Therapists Help Obese Patients Get Moving

Cindy Mehallow / Monster Contributing Writer

Encouraging Kids to Lose Weight

PTs are also working to prevent overweight kids from becoming overweight adults.

Once a week, Donna Trotter, PT, sees patients at the Pediatric Weight Management Clinic at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville. Working with registered dietitians and physicians, she evaluates and treats overweight children and teens. A certified sports clinical specialist, Trotter teaches patients how to avoid low-back pain, tendonitis and overuse injuries commonly caused by the stress of carrying excess weight. She helps them increase flexibility, strengthen body parts and find fun ways to boost their activity level. “You have to cheer on each little victory,” she says. “I explain that this is not a diet. I tell them that if they maintain their weight, they can grow into their body.”

Part of Every PT’s Practice

Some PTs, such as Michael Dionne, PT, focus on treating patients of significant size. Founder of Choice Physical Therapy, in Gainesville, Georgia, Dionne specializes in bariatric ergonomics. He counsels medical facilities on managing extremely large patients and provides on-site safety training for bariatric rehabilitation facilities.

But given the rising prevalence of obesity, all PTs should view treating the obese as part of their practice, urges Deusinger, who offers these suggestions to her colleagues:

• Educate Yourself: Understand the relationship between body composition and various health risks. Learn to assess body composition through measures such as body-mass index and waist circumference. Share that information with patients.
• Expand Your Vision: Make it a habit to monitor all patients’ body composition. Routinely weigh patients, and record their waist circumference.
• Check Your Attitude: To effectively treat obese people, make sure you’re not harboring a bias against them.

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