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Personalizing PT

Researchers explore ways to optimize physical therapy

Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center’s physical therapy department is partnering with University of Kentucky muscle biologists to explore how to maximize the benefits of physical therapy for ventilator patients.

The research team of Gerald Supinski, MD, and Paul Netzel, DNP, has been working with patients using novel physical therapy techniques, including the use of sophisticated experimental equipment that measures leg muscle function in response to magnetic twitch simulation. In addition, the team uses state-of-the-art wireless electromyography to assess activation of muscle by patients during physical therapy.

By combining these techniques, past research has indicated that “it is possible to markedly improve patient responses to physical therapy, dramatically increasing strength gains and patient function,” Dr. Supinski said.

He added that a major finding of his research is that physical therapy must be personalized, with each patient requiring a specific group of exercises to achieve best results.

Emily Valentine, director of Rockcastle Regional’s inpatient physical therapy, says the project offers her and her staff a chance to contribute to a body of research that ultimately will advance the profession as it relates to ventilator patients.

“We noticed there was little research being done anywhere dealing with physical therapy for ventilator dependent patients,” she said. “Ultimately, we want to use research-driven best practices because we want to give our patients the best possible clinical outcomes and the best chance at a higher level of functioning.”

All research is done with patients’ consent.

Dr. Supinski is professor and vice chair of research the Department of Internal Medicine. Dr. Netzel is also with the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Clinical Research.

Respiratory Care Center

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