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Peninsula Rehab & Sports Medicine, Inc., Physical & Occupational Therapy Services

Worchester Times ... March 17, 2005 (extra)

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A virtual tool to recovery
Physical therapy is no chore at new West Ocean City center

Staff Writer

Anne Litz photo

Ron Wist, physical therapist, and Lesley Rogan, physical therapist and athletic trainer, provide services at the new Peninsula Rehab & Sports Medicine in West Ocean City.

Anne Litz photo

Wist discusses an electronic pulse stimulations machine.

OCEAN CITY -- Recovering from injury or illness can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be boring.

Knowing that, physical therapists help patients recover while keeping them occupied with enjoyable activities, such as peddling an arcade-like virtual reality bike.

Similar to a recumbent bicycle, it has a computer screen with colorful images and challenges the patient to navigate around trees and obstacles, lest he end up in the virtual ocean. It's a useful diversion while exercising lower extremities during ankle, hip or knee rehabilitation.

"It keeps them preoccupied," said Lesley Rogan, a physical therapist and athletic trainer, as she demonstrated, maneuvering the virtual bike and purposely going into the ocean at a visitor's request, then managing to get back on dry land.

The bike is among tools offered to patients undergoing therapy at Peninsula Rehab & Sports Medicine, which opened about about one month ago in the Herring Creek Professional Center in West Ocean City.

Rogan and her partner, Ron Wist, physical therapist, chose the location because it's central to Ocean City, West Ocean City, Berlin and Ocean Pines. And, Worcester County Ride, the county bus, stops at the plaza.

An occupational therapist also works with them, concentrating on helping patients regain fine motor skills necessary for daily activities such as shaving, eating and tooth brushing.

Physical therapy, by comparison, concentrates on gross motor skills.

Rogan is also an athletic trainer certified to work with athletes, from those on the professional level to what Wist calls "weekend warriors."

When a professional athlete is hurt during a televised game, the person who tends to him first is usually an athletic trainer, Rogan said.

Patients with shoulder, arm or lower back injuries can use a rebounder, which lets them throw colorful balls of different sizes and weights against a vertical trampoline-type net and catch them.

The net can also be made horizontal and used as a trampoline to allow patients to work on balance or ankle strength.

"Physical therapy has always been fun. It's more interesting now. We have more things to work with and play with. It isn't as much of a chore," Wist said.

The old health club saying "No pain, no gain" is often nonsense, Rogan said.

While there might be some discomfort while undergoing physical therapy, taking the patient's mind off of the pain and putting it on an activity is more functional, she said.

A physician's referral is necessary to begin physical therapy, Rogan said, but many patients are unaware that they can request a script for physical therapy from the doctor.

For physical therapists there are no typical patients.

Problems can range from jaw problems to recovering from a stroke or injury. While babies aren't usually seen, injured youths or those in pain, maybe from carrying overloaded book bags, are.

"We see a wide variety," Rogan said.

"It doesn't have to be painful to the patient. We prefer they aren't in pain. Ron and I have been in this business a long time. A lot of people come in and say, 'I've had therapy before and it won't work,'" she said.

That's why, Wist said, it's important to develop a relationship with patients and to build their trust, using patience and humor.

Also at Peninsula Rehab, Wist and Rogan take a proactive approach, helping patients prevent injuries and soreness by evaluating the work environment and suggesting changes, such as using a head set while talking on the telephone.

They perform functional capacity evaluations, to determine if a patient recovering from an injury or illness is ready to return to work, based on tests such as grip strength and ability to push and pull.

Specialized instruments allow them to make those determinations.

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