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Binge Watches Beware

Frequent TV-Watching Comes With A Risk That Can’t Be Ignored

Dedicated binge-watchers beware!  A study has found that regular long periods of television viewing can increase risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE). Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a condition in which a blood clot forms most often in the deep veins of the leg, groin or arm (known as deep vein thrombosis, DVT) and travels in the circulation, lodging in the lungs (known as pulmonary embolism, PE). Another scary part? The risk of venous thromboembolism isn’t reduced by increased levels of physical activity. So regardless of how active you are when you are off the couch, the risk of venous thromboembolism still silently lurks.

The study tracked the television viewing and physical activity habits of 15,792 participants aged 45-64 over a series of surveys from 1987 until 2011. For those that struggle with math, that’s a 24 year long research study! Participants were followed up with every 3 years during the study. Researchers excluded participants who reported baseline VTE or anticoagulant use.

Participants were asked to rate their television viewing habits during leisure time as “never,” “seldom,” “sometimes,” “often,” or “very often” at baseline, visit 3 (1993), and visit 5 (2011). Researchers tracked estimates of physical activity, demographic variables and body mass index (BMI). Results were published in The Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis. Highlights of the results are below.

  • Among all participants, 18.6% reported watching television “seldom,” 46.8% reported watching “sometimes,” 26.5% reported watching “often,” and 8.1% reported watching “very often.”
  • Results showed a positive correlation between frequency of television viewing and VTE incidence
  •  Participants who watched television “very often” had a 1.71 times higher risk of VTE than those reporting “seldom” watching television.
  • The relationship of VTE risk to television viewing remained in place despite levels of physical activity.
  • BMI did play a role. Obese individuals who reported watching television “very often” were found to have a 3.7 times higher risk of VTE than normal-weight individuals who reported watching television “seldom.”

The relationship between sedentary behavior and poor health may be well-known, but authors of this study believe they’ve added a new dynamic; the inability of physical activity to counteract the risk for VTE caused by prolonged sitting. These results echo findings in a study from 2017 that concluded that risk of a mobility disability increased relative to television-viewing time, regardless of hours spent in physical activity.

For those that are dedicated TV viewers, why not get some physical activity while you watch? Our editor’s favorite way to get her TV fix is to watch while she does cardio at the gym. Your workout will breeze by AND you won’t have missed a minute of your favorite show! Most gyms offer a variety of TVs that you can watch while using any of their equipment. If you’re not a gym goer, break up the long periods of sitting by doing aerobics or yoga during commercials. Developing behaviors that maintain good health is an important part of overall health and wellness, and it’s never too late to get started!

in Blog | July 17, 2018

Why You Need to See a Physical Therapist for Low Back Pain

For the past week, the pain and stiffness in your lower back has been unbearable. Daily activities like unloading the dishwasher, opening the car door, and taking the trash out are a struggle. Even sneezing is painful. You missed a day of work and your spouse has taken over all childcare duties. If you can relate to this scenario, then you probably think an MRI will give you the answers you’re looking for, right? Actually, that’s not the case according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Imaging of the lower spine within the first six weeks doesn’t improve outcomes, but it does increase costs.

A study that appeared in the scientific journal Health Services Research concluded that physical therapy costs far less than advanced imaging. The study, led by researchers Julie M. Fritz, PT, PhD, FAPTA, Gerard P. Brennan, PT, PhD, and Stephen J. Hunter, PT, PhD, OCS, focused on 841 individuals who consulted with a primary care provider about uncomplicated low back pain. Of those individuals, 385 were referred to advanced imaging, 377 were referred to physical therapy, and 79 received a physician specialist visit or other care, including chiropractic.

The average cost differences between the study groups were staggering. The average physical therapy cost was about $504 while an MRI rang in at about $1,306. That is almost triple the amount! During the subsequent year, costs were 66% lower for the patients who began with a physical therapy referral. Patients in physical therapy spent about $1,871 on their care, whereas the individuals in the imaging cohort spent $6,664.

Physical therapy is not only the least expensive first step in the treatment of low back pain, but also the most effective. Patients who are referred to imaging first are more likely to pursue other options including surgery, injections, specialist consultations, and emergency department visits within a year.  A physical therapist’s goals include decreasing pain, increasing function and teaching strategies to prevent future back problems. Physical therapy helps patients get to the heart of what’s causing the back pain and gives them tools to succeed in the future. Make the right choice and choose physical therapy first!

in Blog | July 10, 2018

Physical Therapy & Spinal Stenosis Treatment

Physical Therapy Scores High in the Treatment of Spinal Stenosis

Patients diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis are often surprised to learn that physical therapy for low back pain can be as effective as surgery without the associated costs and complications. The debilitating and painful diagnosis is a daily struggle for nearly 400,000 Americans.

The results of a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggest that patients with lumbar spinal stenosis should first turn to a physical therapist trained to treat low back pain. The study team directly compared a single, evidence-based physical therapy regimen with decompression surgery in 169 participants who agreed to be randomly assigned to either approach. The study research revealed comparable long-term outcomes regardless of whether patients were assigned to the surgery or the physical therapy cohort.

Additionally, study authors concluded that increases in function followed similar trajectories from baseline onward in both groups. Symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis frequently leads to lifestyle-limiting back and lower extremity pain in older patients.

A physical therapy regimen for spinal stenosis is designed to reduce soft tissue pain, improve function and build muscle strength. Although the long-term outcomes of surgery and physical therapy are similar for this patient population, the short-term risks differ. Immediate decompression surgery, which involves removing the bony plate on the back of the vertebra where the stenosis is located, is an invasive procedure that comes with a high price tag and the prospect of complications. Meanwhile, similar outcomes can be achieved with an active, standardized physical therapy regimen that involves general conditioning, lower extremity strengthening exercises and postural education.

If you suffer from spinal stenosis or any other back pain, talk with your healthcare provider to see if physical therapy is the right decision for you! Some physical therapy providers offer free consultations and can see you the same day to get you on the road to a pain free life!


in Blog | July 3, 2018

Healthy Summer Recipes Under 400 Calories That Everyone Will Love!

We’ve scoured the internet to bring you our favorite healthy recipes this summer! Whether it’s for a Fourth of July celebration, a family reunion, backyard barbecue, or a casual party, these dishes are sure to please.


BBQ Chicken with Peach and Feta Slaw

This summery crunch-tastic slaw is guaranteed to find its way into your recipe rotation for the rest of the season. Using ripe, juicy peaches, it’s the perfect sweet-salty side dish for any number of grilled or smoked proteins. When paired with barbeque chicken, this meal rings in at 400 calories.


  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh peaches (about 2 medium)
  • 1 (12-oz.) pkg. broccoli slaw
  • 3 (6-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1-in. strips
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 center-cut bacon slices, cooked and crumbled


Combine 4 tablespoons oil, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add peaches and slaw to vinegar mixture; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes or until done. Place chicken in a large bowl. Add barbecue sauce to bowl; toss. Divide slaw mixture evenly among 4 plates; top evenly with chicken strips. Sprinkle with chives, feta, and bacon.


Grilled Chicken Thighs with Pineapple, Corn, and Bell Pepper Relish

Low calorie doesn’t mean low on flavor. At 242 calories per serving we love the high-impact flavors in this recipe. The vibrant, colorful relish will not only look divine when plated atop grilled chicken thighs, but will taste just as amazing.


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 2 cups cubed fresh pineapple (about 1/2 pineapple)
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 ear)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat; lightly coat with cooking spray. Combine garlic powder, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a small bowl; sprinkle over chicken. Add chicken to pan; cook 10 minutes on each side or until done. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, pineapple, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Serve relish over chicken.


Pinto, Black, and Red Bean Salad with Grilled Corn and Avocado

This Latin-accented side is studded with guacamole components; jalapeño, cilantro, white onion, lime, and avocado. It’s a three-bean salad that is spicy and creamy with only 141 calories.


  • 1 cup halved heirloom grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 ears shucked corn
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 diced peeled avocados


Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes. Brush corn, onion, and jalapeño evenly with oil. Place vegetables on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill corn for 12 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 6 minutes. Grill onion slices and jalapeño 8 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 4 minutes. Let vegetables stand 5 minutes. Cut kernels from cobs. Coarsely chop onion. Finely chop jalapeño; discard stem. Add corn, onion, and jalapeño to tomato mixture; toss well. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and next 4 ingredients (through kidney beans) to corn mixture; toss well. Top with avocado.


Watermelon Salad

Instead of offering watermelon wedges at your Independence Day cookout, branch out with this sweet and savory watermelon salad featuring cubed watermelon, red onion, kalamata olives, mint, and feta cheese. Even with all the added flavorful ingredients, it still weighs in at only 46 calories per 1/2-cup serving.


  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 4 cups cubed seeded watermelon
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled


Combine onion and juice in a medium bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Add watermelon, olives, parsley, and mint. Cover and chill 1 hour. Sprinkle with cheese.


Peach Ice Cream

Ripe peaches at peak season are key to this creamy, refreshing ice cream. The bonus? This sweet treat has only 125 calories.


  • 3 cups sliced peeled peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Place the peaches in a blender or food processor; process until finely chopped. Combine peaches and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour peach mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 2 hours or until firm.

in Blog | June 24, 2018

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice is here which means…


Solstices happen twice a year, in June and December. The summer solstice happens June 21, when the SUN is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer. Astronomers and scientists use the date of the summer solstice to mark the beginning of summer!

Western Berks Physical Therapy would like to welcome you to summer!

Spreading healing, love, peace

and compassion

on this Summer Solstice!



in Blog | June 21, 2018

Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia Relief

Tai chi is proving to be an effective option in the management of pain for individuals with fibromyalgia. In a randomized controlled trial, researchers studied 226 adults with fibromyalgia over a one year period. The participants of the trial were placed into 2 different groups to study the effectiveness of aerobic exercise and tai chi for relieving Fibromyalgia symptoms.

The most effective trial group at relieving pain associated with Fibromyalgia was the twice-weekly, tai chi group. Compared with the aerobic exercise group, the tai chi group reported the most significant improvement. The tai chi group reported better scores than the aerobic group on depression, coping, and anxiety.

Researchers believe the mind-body approach of tai chi contributes to its effectiveness and suggest it may be useful in reducing opioid use. “By improving psychological wellbeing, coping, and self-efficacy, tai chi mind-body exercise may help to bolster confidence of patients with fibromyalgia to engage in behaviors that help them manage their symptoms and to persist in those behaviors,” researchers write. “Tai chi might also help buffer the negative impact of fibromyalgia on the patients’ physical and psychosocial wellbeing.”

However that’s not to say that aerobic exercise is not effective at providing pain relief and health benefits as well. All groups, tai chi and aerobic exercise, reported decreased use of drugs including analgesics, antidepressants, and muscle relaxers.

Try out a Tai Chi class today and get your mind and body aligned! With the help of a dedicated Physical Therapist, you can develop a customized treatment and exercise plan which includes Tai Chi classes to provide effective pain relief for whatever is troubling you. To find a Physical Therapist near you check out this link!



in Blog | June 12, 2018


Alleviating Soreness During Car Rides - Western Berks Physical Therapy

Why does my neck hurt when  I turn my head to back up my car?

That pain you feel when turning your head while backing up your car is probably due to tightness in the muscles of your neck and upper back, often the result of years of poor posture. To improve your posture, keep your neck in a “neutral” position, with your chin more tucked in than pushed forward. When you walk, stand, or sit, pretend that a string is pulling you from the top of your head, elongating your neck and spine. While driving, adjust the seat so that you are neither too far nor too close to the steering wheel and pedals. In addition, the Doctors of Physical Therapy at Western Berks Physical  Therapy can provide you with exercises to do at home to help reduce your pain!


The Opioid Crisis Continues


In March, President Trump signed a 2018 budget bill that includes more than $3 billion for opioid efforts. The plan allocates $500 million in grant funding for research on opioid addiction, development of opioid alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment; $20 million for telemedicine and distance learning in rural areas to help address opioids; and $1 billion among states and American Indian tribes.


This is just one recent development related to the nation’s opioid crisis. Our friends at MoveForwardPT put together a summary of other opioid-related news that is just too important to overlook. Each bold headline is a clickable link that will take you right to the source for more information on the topic!


Opioid Painkiller Is Top Prescription in 10 States 
Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (brand name Norco or Vicodin) is 1 of the most commonly filled prescriptions in the United States, according to an analysis by GoodRx, an online prescription cost service.


Americans Take More Pain Pills—but not Because They’re in More Pain 
Despite levels of chronic pain similar to Italy and France, researchers say Americans consume 6 to 8 times as many opioid painkillers per capita.


The Opioid Crisis Is Surging In Black, Urban Communities 
Because African Americans have “historically been less likely” to be prescribed pain medication, it probably protected them from the initial wave of opioid addiction that hit white suburban and rural areas, says a DC physician who treats patients with opioid use disorder. But with the introduction of fentanyl, opioid overdose deaths among black individuals in urban counties are increasing at a faster rate than in suburban and rural areas.


ER Visits for Opioid Overdose Up 30%, CDC Study Finds 
Increases were highest in the Midwest and lowest in the Southeast. The largest state-level increases were in Wisconsin, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, while Kentucky saw a slight decrease.


No one should live in pain and no one should put their health at risk in an effort to be pain free. Physical Therapy is a wonderful alternative to opioids in order to manage pain effectively. Choose physical therapy to manage your pain without the risks and side effects of opioids.



Physical Therapist’s Guide to Concussions

A traumatic brain injury causing lasting effects

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can cause lasting effects on brain tissue and change the chemical balance of the brain. Concussions may cause physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms and problems, both short-term and long-term. Every concussion is considered a serious injury by health care providers. If you have experienced a head injury, seek medical help immediately. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1.6 million to 3.8 million people experience concussions during sports and recreational activities annually in the United States. These numbers may be underestimated, as many cases are likely never reported. There is a common misconception that a concussion must be accompanied by a “black out”, but less than 10% of concussions involve a loss of consciousness.  A physical therapist can assess symptoms to determine if a concussion is present, and treat the injury by guiding the patient through a safe and individualized recovery program. Symptoms of a concussion can be both complex and subtle, with some symptoms appearing immediately while others, days or even weeks later. Read on to see the symptoms you should watch for in anyone who has suffered a blow to the head.


Physical symptoms can include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased sleepiness
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Slurred speech
  • Glassy-eyed stare
  • Seizures

Cognitive (thinking) symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty with short-term or long-term memory
  • Confusion
  • Slowed “processing” (eg, a decreased ability to think through problems)
  • “Fogginess”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Worsening grades in school

Emotional symptoms can include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Decreased tolerance of stress
  • Change in personality or behavior


Longer-term symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Chronic headaches or dizziness
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Early dementia
  • Loss of libido
  • Loss of menstruation
  • Growth problems (children)


Western Berks Physical Therapy has expanded its professional and expert service in patient care with a growing concern for those who have suffered from a concussion. Because every concussion is different, neurological, orthopedic, and cardiovascular systems will be examined in order to best prescribe a routine to address your particular symptoms and needs in all of your daily activities. Call immediately if you have concussion symptoms!