Hours of Operation

Monday to Friday:

7:00 am to 7:00 pm

Phone: 416.545.1881

Book Online

Is a physiotherapist a mobility specialist?

In a recent study, which examined the market profile of physiotherapists in Canada, the term mobility specialist was used to describe the role of a physiotherapist within a complex Canadian health care system. It was an interesting term to use, and one that has yet to be expanded on within our health system. However, it did get me thinking as to how a physiotherapist is trained, the effect a physiotherapist can have on mobility, and how to bridge the gap in knowledge, and educate Canadians as to what a “mobility specialist” really is.

The role of a physiotherapist involves working in health, mobility, and rehabilitation. Physiotherapists are trained to understand soft tissue dysfunction, to rehabilitate patients with physical or neurological injury/disease, and to keep the Canadian population moving. However, the rehabilitation and mobility market in Canada is a complex system, with patients interacting with regulated and unregulated health professionals to be physically active or mobile in order to complete activities of daily living, participate in exercise or sport, improve quality of life, or achieve functional independence. The concept of rehabilitation and mobility is vast because of the many suppliers of goods and services that sit in multiple market spaces, straddling the line of publicly funded health providers, private sector business, regulated and unregulated health professionals, and the many areas of practice of those offering physical and virtual goods and services. So, let’s be clear on what a physiotherapist does, and how seeing a physiotherapist as a mobility specialist can drastically change your health, function, and quality of life.

To become a physiotherapist, you must obtain a Masters in Science degree in Physical Therapy. Registered Physiotherapists are required to hold a practicing license in order to practice in Canada. A physiotherapist is able to and is trained to assess, manage, diagnoses, and treat injury/disease/chronic pain/anatomical abnormality/illness that effects a patients mobility. Mobility includes, but is not limited to- walking, running, driving, eating, movement, dancing, cooking, personal hygiene and parenting. Lack of mobility or pain with mobility affects ones activities of daily living, quality of life, and independence. A physiotherapist uses their education in anatomy, physiology, exercise training principles, neurological anatomy, and psychology to assess, diagnosis, treat and manage any and all conditions which may effect ones mobility. A physiotherapist can help patients get back to what they need, want, and love to do, by addressing the body symptoms, muscle impairments, joint issues, and optimizing functional movements. A physiotherapist is highly trained in anatomy and soft tissue, and is equipped to be the provider to get YOU moving again after any physical ailment.

So, if you are injured, experiencing decreased mobility or pain with movement, if you have a disability, or chronic pain, if you have muscle imbalance, poor joint alignment, are you want to prevent degeneration of your joints and muscles… a physiotherapist can help you!

 

-Charlotte Anderson, Registered Physiotherapist, PhD Candidate

Urge incontinence is a sudden and strong urge to urinate resulting in varying degrees of involuntary loss of urine. Also called “overactive bladder” or OAB, this condition can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. The unpredictability of OAB leads to feelings of anxiousness, embarrassment, and negatively impacts one’s quality of life. The fear of being unable to stop oneself from emptying their bladder when out in public can result in isolation and avoidance of social situations. Sometimes it feels like you are at war with your own body! Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help. With a diagnosis of OAB, there are many physical and behavioural impairments that contribute to this condition. They can be addressed and resolved.

Your bladder is a muscle. It has a complex neural communication system between the brain and the pelvic floor muscles that surround it. There is both an involuntary (reflexive) and voluntary communication system that tells the bladder when to relax, expand, and store more urine or when to contract and empty. With OAB, these signals are not coordinated properly and may be upregulated, or overactive. Once the message starts, the cascade of messages are amplified and augmented through behavioural responses such as anxiety or stress associated with rushing/finding a toilet. The bladder receives all of these messages to “SQUEEZE!!!” and the pelvic floor musculature does not have the strength, coordination, or proper messaging to inhibit the bladder’s contractions.  There is a disconnect between the brain (which controls the muscles), and the muscles (which produce the action). Both have to be addressed to adequately solve an OAB.

Treatment for urge incontinence includes the completion of a bladder and bowel diary (over the course of 2-3 days). This journal provides important information and identifies patterns regarding dietary habits, hydration, activities and behaviours that may be triggering or contributing to this condition. Bladder and bowel diaries may be completed multiple times throughout the course of treatment as it is able to track improvement and progression over time. With this information, we talk about behavioural changes that can be implemented regarding dietary adjustments. Many foods are known to irritate the sensitive bladder lining and can contribute to bladder overactivity. Persistent constipation takes up space within the pelvis and the distended rectum pushes on the bladder. When the bladder has less space to expand, this can throw the neural signals to the bladder out of whack as well. If constipation is identified, we will discuss ways to resolve this through diet, toileting postures and optimal strategies for emptying. If appropriate, you may be expected to adhere to toileting every day at the same time to establish a routine and pattern for the bladder. Behavioural training is an imperative aspect of recovery and includes education on effective urge delay strategies that will help inhibit or downregulate the overactive system of signals that feed into the strong bladder contractions.

Not only is there a behavioural component to treating urge incontinence, pelvic floor physiotherapy identifies what muscles and soft tissue (internal and external) may be contributing to OAB symptoms. It is quite common for those with urge incontinence to have abnormal tension and tightness within the abdominals, adductors, and even hip flexor muscles (to name just a few).

The pelvic floor muscles communicate intimately with the bladder. Therefore, we can tap into optimizing this communication system by identifying issues with pelvic floor strength, flexibility, and coordination. By addressing muscle imbalance, tone, and incorrect activation, you are addressing the factors contributing to an OAB.

Treatment then focuses on increasing the flexibility/mobility of the external and internal musculature through hands on manual therapy as well as providing a guided home exercise program for maintaining the flexibility gains made during treatment.

Bladder training and treatment for urge incontinence involves a lot of commitment and persistence. With continued guidance and support from a pelvic health physiotherapist, client’s are able to regain control of their bladder again and feel much more confident in social environments.

If you find you are frequently worried and anxious about finding the closest bathroom, or you leak urine when you are on the way to the toilet, stop letting your bladder control you and book an appointment with Leeanna Maher, Registered Pelvic Health Physiotherapist today!

 

Leeanna Maher
Registered Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist

New Year, New Babies, New Milestones
Physiotherapy for Babies and Infants

 

 

 

Parenthood is amazing but it comes with much stress and many challenges. When it comes to motor development, parents often look to their other children, nieces, nephews and friends’ kids for comparison. Sometimes this is a recipe for disaster as it can often breed unnecessary anxiety and stress. Here is a guideline as to when most kids achieve certain milestones:

0-6 months:

  • Moving hands to mouth and kicking both feet while on their back
  • Lifting head and chest up while on their belly
  • Rolling from back to tummy and tummy to back
  • Sitting with assistance
  • Crawling on belly in a circle

6-12 months:

  • Sitting independently
  • Crawling forwards and backwards
  • Standing with assistance
  • Pulling to stand on furniture
  • Standing independently
  • Walking along furniture

12-24 months:

  • Walking independently
  • Going up and down stairs with support
  • Running

Unless your child has an underlying medical condition, most infant and toddlers will reach their age-appropriate motor milestones by the age of 2. So the idea that ‘the sooner, the better’ is not necessarily true. It is important that infants practice every motor skill as it is important for their current function and prepares them for future movements. For instance, I often hear something along the lines of: “My child walked when she/he was 10 months!! She/he never had to crawl”. Yes, it is great that they can walk but it is also important for children to crawl. Crawling helps infants build the necessary strength for transitioning from one position to another. So when it comes to your baby’s motor development, have patience and play, play, and play again. If you need some extra guidance, visit a physiotherapist.

 

Winta Desta
Registered Physiotherapist, Paediatric Physiotherapist
To book with Winta, click here

February is coming… the shortest month of the year but it always feels the longest. It’s cold, dark and it feels like you haven’t seen the warm sun in years.   All you feel like doing is hibernating in your house with a fuzzy blanket and Netflix. It’s the “February Blues” and we want winter to be over!

Ok, so there’s no question that February is my least favourite month (Sorry Dad, I know it’s your birthday month). How can we make it through this miserable time of year? Focus on self care! What is self care? Well, it’s taking time out of our crazy schedules to focus on things that reduce your stress, improve your wellbeing or quite simply, make you happy.

Here are some simple suggestions to help get you started with your self-care practice

  1. Meditation

This can be something you do at the beginning or end of your day. It doesn’t have to take long but this can be a great way to bring some mindfulness into your daily life. Meditation can reduce stress, increase happiness and can increase concentration and self awareness. Have a look online. There are a ton of apps out there that can help guide you in your meditation practice.

 

  1. Get outside

Spending time outside in nature has shown to decrease stress. I know, it’s cold out there but there are lots of fun winter activities that you can be apart of. You don’t have to go too far to experience nature.   Toronto has a great outdoor trail system where you can actually see some wildlife (I’ve seen both deer and fox on the Lower Don Trail). You forget that you’re actually in the city. Skiing, skating, snowshoeing, and dog sledding are all fun activities that can get you outside and get that body moving during the cold month of February.

 

  1. Go for a massage

Take an hour out of your day and get a massage. I know, I’m an RMT and a bit biased on this, but having a massage is a great way to let go of the stress and tension in our bodies. I don’t know how many people have said while on my table “Wow I didn’t realize how tight I was.” Massage can help to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, reduce pain, and improve immunity.

Remember, Self-care doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. By just adding some little things that make you smile or allow you to let go of the stresses in your daily life, can provide you with a more balanced lifestyle.

 

Karen Kingsley


Registered Massage Therapist
To learn more about Karen, click here

What is a physiotherapist?

In a recent study, which examined the market profile of physiotherapists in Canada, the term mobility specialist was used to describe the role of a physiotherapist within a complex Canadian health care system. It was an interesting term to use, and one that has yet to be expanded on and further defined within our health system. However, it did get me thinking as to how a physiotherapist is trained, the effect a physiotherapist can have on mobility, how to bridge the gap in knowledge, and educate Canadians as to what a “mobility specialist” really is. If “physiotherapist” and “mobility specialist” are synonymous… we better show a connection!

The role of a physiotherapist involves working in health, mobility, and rehabilitation. Physiotherapists are trained to understand soft tissue dysfunction, to rehabilitate patients with physical or neurological injury/disease, and to keep the Canadian population moving. However, the rehabilitation and mobility market in Canada is a complex system, with patients interacting with regulated and unregulated health professionals to be physically active or mobile in order to complete activities of daily living, participate in exercise or sport, improve quality of life, or achieve functional independence. The concept of rehabilitation and mobility is vast because of the many suppliers of goods and services that sit in multiple market spaces, straddling the line of publicly funded health providers, private sector business, regulated and unregulated health professionals, and the many areas of practice of those offering physical and virtual goods and services. So, let’s be clear on what a physiotherapist does, and how seeing a physiotherapist as a mobility specialist can drastically change your health, function, and quality of life.

To become a physiotherapist, you must obtain a MSc degree in Physical Therapy. To become registered and be in good standing with the College of Physiotherapists, practitioners must obtain a license to practice. A physiotherapist is able to and is trained to assess, manage, diagnoses, and treat injury/disease/chronic pain/anatomical abnormality/illness that effects a patients mobility. Mobility includes, but is not limited to- walking, running, driving, eating, movement, dancing, cooking, personal hygiene and parenting. Lack of mobility or pain with mobility affects ones activities of daily living, quality of life, and independence. A physiotherapist uses their education in anatomy, physiology, exercise training principles, neurological anatomy, and psychology to assess, diagnosis, treat and manage any and all conditions which may effect ones mobility. A physiotherapist can help patients get back to what they need, want, and love to do, by addressing the body symptoms, muscle impairments, joint issues, and optimizing functional movements.

A physiotherapist can get you back on your feet!

And perhaps we have to start thinking of physiotherapy = mobility= functionality… and therefore take the term mobility specialist one step further to…  specialists in returning to function.

-Charlotte Anderson
Registered Physiotherapist

Welcome winter! Welcome snow! Welcome shovelling! Welcome lower back pain!

Shovelling greatly increases the risk of low back pain and injury due to the ergonomics, weight of the snow, and the repetitive nature of shoveling. Here are a few tips to avoid lower back injuries and pain as a result of snow shoveling this winter. Read on, your back will thank us!

1. Warm up!

Cold muscles are more susceptible to injury, so warm up the large muscles in your lower back before heading out to shovel the snow. For example, start by placing a heating pad on your lower back for 10 – 20 minutes, followed with some light aerobic exercises to get your blood moving (jumping jacks, light jog etc.). Then do some gentle stretching (check out our blog post on preventative exercises for lower back injuries!). 
 By getting the blood flowing, the muscles moving, and the body moving, you are greatly reducing your risk of a back injury from shoveling.

2. Use an ergonomic shovel.

Shovelling makes one very susceptible to a low back injury due to the positioning of the body during shoveling, and the load of the snow at the end of the shovel. It will help if you can minimize the degree you need to bend forward to shovel, so consider using a shovel with a curved handle, which will allow you to stay in a more upright stance. An adjustable length shovel can also let you shorten the handle length, so you are not straining to lift heavy snow that’s too far away from your body. Both of these factors will help take stress off your lower back. Finally, the lighter the shovel (e.g. plastic) the less weight you will need to hoist.

3. Proper movement:

Bend at your hips and with your knees, and lift with your leg muscles, not your back. Do not bend your back forward or twist your back at any point. Only lift an amount of snow that you can comfortably handle.


















4. Previous injury:

If you have a previous injury, or are currently revering from a lower back injury, avoiding shoveling is important. Shoveling puts you at a high risk of further injury, disc herniation, or nerve impingement. There are other options to explore:

  • Find a volunteer to clear your snow. Many local nonprofit organizations, such as Boy Scouts, high schools and church youth programs require teens and young adults to provide a certain number of service hours in their community. Assisting someone with back pain by shoveling their driveways and walkways will almost always count towards their required minimum of service hours, so it’s a win-win: they will be helping you by shoveling your snow and you will be helping them fulfill their service requirements.
  • Use a snow blower instead of a shovel. When used correctly, a snow blower can take much of the stress of snow removal off your back. Use the power of your legs to propel the machine forward, keeping your back straight (don’t hunch forward) and your knees slightly bent.
  • Hire a snow removal service. The easiest option may be to hire a show removal service. Most local areas have a few options for this service: landscaping and lawn maintenance companies and handymen service companies commonly offer this service. While it is expensive, protecting your back is priceless.

As a final note, slipping on the snow or ice is a serious concern, especially if you already have a bad back. Be sure to wear boots with good treads, and spread sand, or salt on the area. Strengthening and preventative measures can also help reduce the risk of a lower back injury. A physiotherapist or personal trainer can help you with such exercises.

Charlotte Anderson
Registered Physiotherapist

Six steps to make tummy time easier for you and your baby

Tummy time is crucial for healthy child development. Think of it as your baby’s daily physical activity. It helps strengthen your child’s neck, back, core, and shoulder muscles. Tummy time also helps facilitate gross motor skills and prevent positional plagiocephaly (flat spots on your baby’s head). As important as it is, sometimes babies don’t like it which makes it hard on parents. Here are some ways to help make tummy time a little bit easier:

  • Start early

No baby is too small or too young for tummy time*. The earlier you start, the easier it is for your child to become comfortable on their tummy.

  • A little goes a long way

 Start for a few minutes at a time and scatter it throughout the day. Then gradually increase. Try to accumulate 30 to 60 minutes of supervised tummy time per day.

  • Add it to your routine

 Do a few minutes of tummy time after a diaper change or after a bath.

  • Be engaging

Make tummy time a fun and memorable experience. You can sing to your child or get down onto the floor with them. When your baby starts to lift their head, place mirrors, toys, and pictures around your child to further encourage them to lift and turn their head and to eventually reach with their arms.

  • Switch it up

Tummy time does not always have to be done on a blanket or a play mat on the floor. You can lay your child on your chest for some extra cuddling or you can lay them across your lap. When your child has good head control, you can even soar them through the air like an airplane by supporting them through their trunk.

  • Help your baby

If you find your baby is having difficulties with tummy time, try placing a rolled-up towel or small pillow underneath their chest. This will help provide some extra support.

*Unless your family doctor or pediatrician has restricted this position for medical reasons.

Winta Desta
Registered Physiotherapist

Can Office Over Sharers Change Your Life?

Everyone has that friend or parent that you feel overshares about their life. How they feel? What their digestion is like? The good (and bad) of their romantic life?

At times it may seem awkward in the moment, but really without oversharing on the issues we often do not talk about, how would we ever know we are normal? In pain? Not optimal?

At least once a day someone in my office says, but I thought that was just how it was?

I think the oversharing Individuals in our lives play an essential role in helping us understand what is and isn’t normal as we quietly compare ourselves to them.

From those conversations, we usually end up with one of two thoughts…I feel ok compared to them, and uh-oh one of us is very off but I’m not sure which one of us it is.

Most diseases and illnesses don’t happen overnight. However having these conversations about health is where we begin to understand what may be suboptimal in our life. It can bring us to a place where we acknowledge and are aware of the changes in our body and the need to address them.

Often these conversations generate a nugget of wonder in the brain… could you feel better then you do right now?

In a world where we share so much information about ourselves through social and digital platforms, in conversations and emojis…isn’t it time to lift the taboo on talks around our health and start us feeling better, instead of waiting until we are really sick to seek out help from friends family and a healthcare community ready to bring you to optimal.

It is a lot easier to get up a hill standing at the base of it, than climbing out of a hole to get to the base in the first place.

Isn’t it time you gave yourself permission to put yourself first. It’s time to investigate your mental and physical health. Isn’t it time to figure out how you can make this year the best one ever!

The Author, Christina Carew, is a naturopathic doctor who practices functional and strategic medicine at Alpha Health Services. As a medical investigator, she is in the business of changing people’s lives. Dr. Christina focuses on finding the biomedical reasons for symptoms that are often unique to each patient and helps her patients remove the obstacles that stand in the way of living a healthy vibrant life. Want to know if her approach is right for you – sign up for a free 20-minute consult click here.

Note: This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about med­i­cine, health and related sub­jects.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed health care worker.

Fascial Stretch Therapy Is Now Offered At ALPHA!

Fascial stretch therapy

Fascial stretch therapy improves mobility of your nerves & flexibility of your muscles and fascia. By focusing on the fascial lines that connect through and wrap around muscle, nerves organs, and just about everything else in your body.

Who benefits?

People of all ages can benefit from fascial stretch therapy. Any patient cleared by their physician for stretching and active movement, fitness enthusiasts, and athletes of all levels.

Why stretch fascia vs. muscle?

Fascia surrounds each muscle, and connects them to each other both superficially and deep. It also connects tendons, ligaments, and bone to form a body wide, functional network. Fascia connects to all of your organs and systems too. By integrating a global perspective on stretching these fascial connections, we can reap twice the benefits as static stretching isolated muscle groups.

FST is completely different than yoga, and Pilates. It is completely compatible with other methods of therapy and training.

Is it science based?

The first research into the effects of FST commenced in 1997 with founder Ann Frederick’s thesis, found at www.stretchtowin.com. Current research on the effects of FST on chronic low back pain is being conducted with a team at the University of Arizona Medical School in Phoenix. FST is also based on the extensive science resources found at www.fasciaresearchsociety.org

What can i expect from My FST session?

Upon your first treatment, your fascial stretch therapist will ask specific questions, and assess the body based on any complaints, or questions you may have. Each session is catered to the clients needs. All treatments are done on the table with two straps. The straps are there to hold the one leg in place, while the opposing one gets moved around.. This assures a true stretch is occurring. For each stretch session, the client is expected to wear stretchy pants, or shorts, and a tank top or t-shirt. Short shorts are not recommended.

Mobility is often improved after the first treatment. The therapist will give you exercises to help maintain this after your first visit. More than one session is normally recommended. Each treatment plan varies with individual needs. Many report a decrease in stress, improved sleep, and significant decrease in pain in sometimes as little as three treatments.

Is it painful?

Fascial stretch therapy is NOT painful. It is a gentle modality meant to help the client to relax and stretch out. If there is any pain, or pinching, the client must tell the therapist. FST is preformed by a registered massage therapist, and can be claimed under private health care insurance.

To book an appointment with Hilary, click here
Or email info@alphahealthservices.ca

 

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture, as defined by the World Health Organization, is the method of treatment based on influencing the body by inserting needles in to specific points on the human body, called acupoints. Forms of acupuncture has been used as a treatment for pain and other physiological functions 6000 BCE.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture is an intervention from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that can be traced back almost 3000 years and is used to restore a person to good health. TCM presumes that two opposing and complementary forces, Yin and Yang, interact to regulate the flow of vital energy know as Qi in the body. This energy flows along channels called meridians which connect the skin surface with internal organs. Symptoms such as pain or pathology appear when energy flow is blocked, deficient or out of balance. By inserting needle in acupuncture points along the meridian it helps to correct the imbalance and thus reduce symptoms.

Modern Acupuncture Theory

Western medicine has done various studies to try to understand the physiological, anatomical and biochemical components of acupuncture. Current theories are primarily based on the idea that the insertion of a needle into an acupoint stimulates nerves travelling to the spinal cord which help to modulate the transmission of pain. This signal allows for neurotransmitters and endorphins to be released in the brain to help reduce pain perception. In addition, when a needle is inserted into an acupoint, it causes a local immune response and increases circulation to the area to help with swelling and to promote healing.

What types of problems can Acupuncture Help?

Generally, acupuncture is used to treat pain, swelling and/or inflammation. The following are some conditions that can be treated with acupuncture.

  • Muscles strains
  • Ligament sprains
  • Low back pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Headaches
  • Whiplash
  • Tendinitis
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Tennis elbow
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Disc bulge
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Shin splint syndrome
  • Bursitis
  • TMJ pain

Does Acupuncture hurt?

The needle used in acupuncture is the width of a hair. You may feel a slight prick, but the treatment is not painful.

Acupuncture is now available at ALPHA Health Services

Registered physiotherapist and acupuncture provider Jennifer Harvey is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1pm to 8pm. To book online with Jennifer click here. To learn more about Jennifer click here.

 

References:

  1. Evidence Based Acupuncture, Access at https://www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org/acupuncture/acupuncture-definition/
  2. Wang, S., Kain, Z., and White, P. Acupuncture Analgesia: I. The Scientific Basis. Anesthesia and Anaglesia. 106, No. 2, February 2008.
1 2 3 6