Vol. LXV, No. 19
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
BALANCING ACT: I do falls prevention classes, which are part of the State of New Jerseys Matter of Balance program. Falling is a concern for many older adults, and we work on prevention strategies. Ruth Kaplan, owner of Progression Physical Therapy of Princeton, is shown at the right with a group of participants from Elm Court.
Helping people feel better is Ruth Kaplans goal. Owner of Progression Physical Therapy of Princeton, Ms. Kaplan, PT, DPT holds a doctoral degree in physical therapy, and has more than 20 years of clinical experience.
I always had a tendency toward health care, she explains, and I especially wanted to help people in my community. This is a great community to work in.
She attended Dominican College in New York state, where she received her degree. A member of the American Physical Therapy Association and of the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association, she is also certified by the Senior Fitness Association as a geriatric personal trainer, and is certified by the Aquatics Rehabilitation System in aquatics strengthening.
Ms. Kaplan has pursued continuing education, with a special interest in manual therapy. Her primary area of specialty and interest is orthopedics, including treatment of back pain, joint pain, joint dysfunction, gait/balance disorders, decreased functional mobility, and general clinical practice. She is also certified in strength training.
A Princeton resident for 10 years, Ms. Kaplan opened Progression Physical Therapy at 11 State Road in 2010, and she offers a full range of physical therapy. We see a lot of back, shoulder, knee, and balance problems, she notes. Our patients are all ages, from 14 to 93!
She treats chronic conditions, such as arthritis, also sports related and other injuries, and this past winter, there were a number of snow shoveling related back problems and injuries from falls on ice.
We have teens with knee and shoulder sports injuries and also the Weekend Warriors, who tend to overdo on the tennis court and soccer field, along with people needing rehabilitation after surgery or pre-surgery, she points out.
A patient is referred to Ms. Kaplan by a physician, and after a thorough evaluation, she establishes a customized treatment plan. Our mission is to ensure the best outcome for all of our patients, she explains. Each patient will see the same physical therapist for the entire course of treatment. We spend time with each patient developing individualized exercise programs, and we perform hands-on therapeutic techniques for pain reduction and healing; and muscle therapy is very helpful in the healing process.
Treatment and stretching rooms are available, as well as a variety of cardio and weight machines. There is also a lumbar and cervical traction machine, which stretches the patient out, and helps relieve back and neck pain, reports Ms. Kaplan.
Posture work is also very important, she adds. Posture is really a huge issue, as is work station ergonomics. When you are working at the computer, you must get up and walk around.
Some patients may have balance problems and neurological disorders, such as Parkinsons Disease or multiple sclerosis, she points out. She will develop special treatment programs for them, as well as for older adults who may be experiencing balance issues, which could stem from a variety of causes.
Helping older people is very much a focus for me, adds Ms. Kaplan. It is important for them to be as independent as possible.
This interest has led her to be part of the New Jersey A Matter of Balance program. I wanted to be involved in a fall prevention program, she explains, and Judy Millner of Secure@Home and I do the Falls Prevention classes at the Harriet Bryant House at Elm Court. Its an 8-week, 2-hour program for approximately eight to 12 older people, featuring group discussion and strategies to prevent falling.
Ms. Kaplan received special training and is now a Master Trainer in the Falls Prevention program.
Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths, she adds. They are also the most common cause of non-fatal injuries and hospital admission for trauma. Most falls are a result of factors such as flexibility problems, physical weakness, neurological problems, chronic medical conditions, and environmental factors. Sometimes, certain drugs interact with each other and can contribute to dizziness and loss of balance.
Older people are often afraid of falling, says Ms. Kaplan. We teach strategies to prevent falls, and emphasize the importance of exercise and staying active. Activity is so important. Its never too late!
Environmental and behavioral factors are important too, she points out, and can involve not rushing to answer the phone, watching out for scatter rugs, and pets underfoot, and being sure there is enough light.
The program has been very well-received, and the participants bring up their own concerns. Judy and I have had great experience with it, and I hope I can continue to work with community education.
In her own physical therapy practice, she addresses the importance of flexibility and strengthening exercises, postural correction and strengthening, and balance activities for older patients who may have concerns about falling.
For all patients, Ms. Kaplan stresses the importance of an at-home exercise program, and she supplies them with a customized plan.
I enjoy the patient contact so much, she says. It is so good when they make progress, especially when they come and are in pain, and then get better. It is wonderful to be able to help them.
Progression Physical Therapy of Princeton accepts major insurance plans, and is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 8 to noon, and two evenings until 7. (609) 454-3536. Website: www.progressionPT.com.
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