During the last several weeks of the Illinois stay-at-home order, area residents have been taking steps to shelter in place. While an important safety measure, what we are now discovering is the side effect of staying at home – discomfort and pain as people start getting back to more activity inside or outside their home.
HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Outpatient Therapy is helping people take the necessary steps to get back to their previous level of activity without injuring themselves and leading to possible future medical intervention.
“Many people are now realizing that by being much more inactive over the last eight weeks, they are trying to return to activities they did previously and having difficulties,” said Tom Dibadj, director of therapy services at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. “If someone is noticing issues with mobility, function, strength, balance, discomfort or pain they didn’t have before, we can assess and provide exercises to help them get back to their previous strength level or improve their balance.”
St. Elizabeth’s Outpatient Therapy staff work closely with each patient’s physician or primary care provider to work as a cohesive team for the patient. “We collaborate with the patients’ physician to ensure proper communication within our health-care team,” explained Dibadj.
Stacie Dichsen, PT, DPT, with St. Elizabeth’s Outpatient Therapy (shown), is familiar with the effects that inactivity over numerous weeks can lead to. “The last eight weeks have affected all of us because our activity levels and lifestyles have changed dramatically,” she said. “Whether we have been working from home and sitting at a different workstation or home-schooling children in addition to working, often we don’t have time for our regular workout and our bodies are dealing with issues that we aren’t used to. In addition, the elderly may develop weakness and balance issues that threatens their independence.”
Dichsen shared, “We have been helping people who had an active job previously but during a layoff period, decided to work on home projects and experienced shoulder pain due to inactivity. Or a runner who hasn’t been able to get her morning run in for the last eight weeks, but when she starts up again, she feels hip pain never experienced before,” she said. “We can provide appropriate home exercises that people can do to help get back to activity slowly and safely.”
There is no reason to delay care even for those who are in a vulnerable population. St. Elizabeth offers telehealth video assessments for physical, occupational and speech therapies. Once a plan of care is determined, therapists can also do video assessments to do balance checks, exercise positioning and even turn the camera on themselves to visually demonstrate an appropriate way to do an exercise.
Dibadj encouraged anyone struggling with pain, discomfort, strength or balance issues to discuss physical therapy as an option with their primary care provider and don’t delay getting needed care.
“We are taking all the appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of all our patients and colleagues, so you are safe with us. We want to help you address any issues in a timely manner to help improve your activity level and get back to life.”
For more information, call St. Elizabeth’s Outpatient Therapy at (618) 624-3668.