Spine & Rehab Specialists Physical Therapy - March 2021

MARCH 2021

6358 EDGEMERE BLVD. EL PASO, TEXAS 79925 915-562-8525

11855 PHYSICIANS DR. EL PASO, TEXAS 79936 915-855-6466


Last month, a brand-new study came out that was focused on patients recovering from strokes. The researchers wanted to know if optimism had any effect on how people’s bodies reacted and how quickly they recovered … and the results were pretty amazing! People who saw life through rose-colored glasses had less severe strokes, fewer physical disabilities, and lower levels of inflammation after three months of treatment. Incredible! When I read this study, I immediately thought about my patients. It’s hard to have a positive attitude when you’re in pain and having trouble moving. But this research shows just how important positivity is, and I’ve read other papers that back it up for different injuries and illnesses. I even found a Harvard Medical School article explaining that “people who had a positive attitude toward aging were 44% more likely to recover from a disability than those with a more negative attitude.” The verdict is officially in: If you can get yourself in the right mindset, then you can speed up your recovery and get back to the things you love. One particular quote from the stroke study really hit home for me. In a statement to CNN, one of the study's authors said, “Our results suggest that optimistic people have a better disease outcome, thus, boosting morale may be an ideal way to improve mental health and recovery after a stroke … Patients and their families should know the importance of a positive environment that could benefit the patient.” Like I said, it’s hard to hang onto a good mood when you’re in pain. But even before I read this study, my team and I made it a priority to help our patients stay positive. We do our best to create a positive atmosphere by keeping wait times short, listening closely, and coming up with solutions that are doable. Almost every time a patient comes in grumpy, we can help them feel more upbeat before they leave. Everyone in the clinic is in on this, from the front desk to the technicians and therapists. And it works!

it has never been harder to stay positive than it is now. It’s been an entire year since COVID-19 got to El Paso, and the whole thing has been pretty rough. I’ve struggled a lot too. But when I found this article, it reminded me to stay positive and optimistic. So I’m focusing on good things. I’m optimistic that soon, we’ll return to normalcy here in Texas. I’m looking forward to taking off my mask, seeing all of my patients come back, and traveling with Bonnie. I can’t tell you how excited I am to start going out to dinner again. Bonnie and I used to go out to eat at local restaurants either by ourselves or with friends almost every Friday night. El Paso has the best Mexican restaurants in the U.S., and I miss them! I’m also excited about the new programs we’re launching here at the clinic, including one that might just make you feel more optimistic. It’s a P ost-COVID-19 Physical Therapy Rehab Program for people with long-lasting symptoms. If you or someone you know has recovered from COVID-19 but still has trouble with shortness of breath, muscle stiffness, or tightness, we can help. There’s a whole episode about the program on our podcast. You can find it by searching “Spine & Rehab Specialists” on Spotify. However you’re spending Optimism Month, remember to keep your chin up, especially when you come in for PT. Your body will thank you! –Harry Koster

It’s funny that I’m writing to you about this study for a couple reasons. First, March is National Optimism month, and second,

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When combating pain, patients tend to think physically. They recognize how much the pain hurts them or hinders their ability to do what they love, and they focus on the physical ways this can be improved. However, researchers have found that this isn’t the only way to deal with and overcome pain. Psychological researchers have discovered that merely thinking about a time when you were happy, sad, or scared, can cause a real, visceral reaction from your body. You can begin to sweat and experience a faster heartbeat when you recall that time you were scared, or you can genuinely smile or laugh as you remember a pleasant memory with a loved one. That same idea can be applied to healing from a physical injury, too. According to researchers at Harvard University, being in a constant state of anxiety, stress, or depression — as is common when experiencing an injury — only heightens your body’s fight-or-flight response. This raises your blood pressure and inflammation, resulting in increased pain. Essentially, your body is trying to survive and is working overtime to succeed. It’s compensating for the area in pain, and all energies are going into what’s wrong, rather than preventing other issues. This is the mind-body connection, and it has a common effect on patients healing from injuries, cardiac events, major surgeries, and other medical events. Without proper intervention, diminished mental stamina can wreak havoc on your body. It’s vital that you prioritize your mental health as you heal from an injury, and you can start with these three tips.

Keep a Journal: It might sound cheesy to write down your thoughts each day, but a journal can be the tool you need to pinpoint specific stressors. You might find you have a consistent diminished mood in the early afternoon or after interacting with a coworker. By identifying these triggers, you can better combat them. Find Social Support: Life’s better with someone by your side, isn’t it? Find and surround yourself with people who motivate you most. Ensure your circle has people you can trust, vent to, and who are honest and supportive. Seek Professional Help: A physical therapist can help you find the relief you need physically, while a psychiatric therapist can help you navigate your emotions and mental hurdles in overcoming this pain. Therapy is not just for those with diagnosed conditions. It can help you sort out your emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms for improved well-being. Recovering from pain is never an easy road so don’t be your own worst enemy. Our team is here to support you during your physical journey, be the cheerleaders you need mentally, and offer any suggestions we can to increase your mental well-being. Just ask us how!

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As we age, we’re told to wear sunscreen, eat more vegetables, take vitamins, and even walk more — all in hope that our internal clocks will slow down and we will age better. But something as simple as laughter could actually be one of the easiest ways to slow the ticking clock of aging. Scientists have long known that laughter can be therapeutic and help us live longer. It has been shown to reduce wear and tear on our bodies and improve our relationships. A Norwegian study found that those who prioritized humor were more likely to live past 70 than those who didn’t laugh often. At a biological level, laughter can reduce tension in your muscles and activate a powerful stress-relief response from your brain by releasing dopamine. Just one chuckle may even improve your breathing and heart function! In fact, laughing can work wonders for the heart.

One study showed that laughter therapy helped reduce the blood pressure and cholesterol levels of its participants. Their blood circulation improved, too. Studies have also found that regular laughter can help strengthen your immune system, and it has long-term benefits for those with respiratory conditions.

In addition to your body, laughter is also good for your social life. (And we don’t mean that people will want to spend time with you if you have all the good jokes!) Throughout history, laughter has been an evolutionary sign of understanding. When there are language barriers, laughing together

can create camaraderie and a tighter bond between people of different cultures. The dopamine release that comes with laughter aids in stress relief and creates powerful memories that can improve your mood and strengthen friendships. Of course, laughter has its downfalls, too. Laughing at someone else’s expense is detrimental to their health and can harm your relationships. So, stick to light jokes and actively seek shows, cartoons, or people who make you laugh. You’ll feel good, and your body will be pretty happy, too.



PIZZETTES Inspired by EatingWell.com



• 1 lb prepared whole- wheat pizza dough, divided into 6 equal portions • 12 oz asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil • 1/4 tsp salt • 1 cup shredded smoked mozzarella cheese • 1/3 cup scallions, thinly sliced • 2 tbsp walnuts, toasted and chopped • 1 sprig of fresh mint leaves, torn • Zest of 1 orange

1. Preheat oven to 500 F and ensure there are two racks in your oven. 2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, stretch each piece of dough into a 7-by-3-inch oval and arrange evenly on the pan. 3. On a second baking sheet, toss asparagus with oil and 1/4 tsp salt. 4.Place dough on top rack and asparagus on bottom and bake for 3 minutes. 5. Remove both trays from the oven, sprinkle cheese over the dough, then top with asparagus and scallions. 6. Return pizzettes to oven and bake until the crusts' edges are golden, about 8–10 minutes. 7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with walnuts, mint, and orange zest before serving.

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915-562-8525 | www.SpineRehab.net 6358 Edgemere Blvd. El Paso, Texas 79925


STOP CRAMPING PALMS WITH 3 SIMPLE HAND EXERCISES Hand health is so easy to take for granted — but the minute we start to lose it, we realize just how important it is. If you’re using your hands to type, scroll on your phone, or do other repetitive motions every single day, this can cause problems later on. Luckily there are some simple hand exercises you can do to keep your joints healthy! A quick tip before we get started: If your hands are feeling painful or stiff, try warming them up with heating pads or soaking them in warm water before your exercises. This will make it easier to stretch and move them. No. 1: Finger Stretch You want to be able to use your hands pain-free and with flexibility. Finger stretches help ensure that’s the case for a lifetime. To relieve pain and improve the range of motion in your hands, first, place the heels of your hands on a flat surface. Then, gently straighten your fingers until they are as flat as possible — but don’t force your joints. Hold for 30–60 seconds. Repeat at least four times with each hand. No. 2: Finger Lift To increase your range of motion and flexibility in your fingers, put your hand in a flat, finger stretch position. But instead of focusing on keeping your hand as flat as possible, try gently

lifting one finger at a time before slowly lowering them. You can also lift all your fingers and thumbs at once, then lower. Repeat for 8–12 times on each hand.

No. 3: Thumb Touch

Almost all of our tasks require some coordination between our fingers and thumbs. That’s what this exercise is all about. Press the tips of your thumb and index finger to form an “o” shape with your hand. Create the same shape with your thumb and middle finger. Hold for 30–60 seconds. Repeat this with the rest of your fingers, then do the whole exercise for a total of four times. Going through this workout routine might seem unusual at first, but considering how important our hands are to our daily lives and communication, you certainly won’t regret keeping them in shape. Happy stretching!

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Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program

COVID-19 has impacted everyone in some way throughout 2020 and 2021. At this time, over 100,000 El Pasoans have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. That means over 15% of the El Paso population have had their own health impacted by COVID-19 at some point over the last year. Generally, those who had COVID-19 will struggle with lingering symptoms. It is the goal of Spine & Rehab Specialists to assist those recovering from COVID-19 so that they may get back to their normal lives.

3 Pillars of Post-COVID-19 Complications

We have an exercise for that!

2 Convenient Locations: 6358 Edgemere Blvd. El Paso, Texas 79925 915-562-8525 11855 Physicians Dr. El Paso, Texas 79936 915-855-6466

Cardiovascular: • Fatigue • Deconditioning • Changes in Heart Rate Pulmonary: • Shortness of Breath • Difficulty Breathing • Persistent Cough Musculoskeletal: • Muscle Aches • Soreness • Muscular Tightness • Joint Pain

Post-COVID-19 Treatment

Cardiovascular: • Endurance Training • Muscular Conditioning • Heart Rate and Blood

Pressure Monitored Throughout Session

Pulmonary: • Deep Breathing Exercises • Breathing In/Breathing Out Training • Respiratory Rate and Oxygen

Saturation Monitored Throughout Session

Musculoskeletal: • Stretching

• Strength Training • Joint Mobility Pain Management




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