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Raising the Bar in Rehab

Physical Therapy Nutrition

Published September 30, 2010 1:53 PM by

I started subscribing to Food and Wine magazine a few months ago. The first issue was not ideal for my taste - lots of foreign ingredients and required substantial time requirements. There were articles about additional uses for corn, outside of its traditional food reputation; which I was not entirely interested in reading about. I tossed the issue aside and continued making my regular meals.

The next issue I received in the mail impressed me beyond belief. Many of the recipes were new twists on basic concepts that inspired me to head to the grocery store and spend an afternoon in the kitchen. I had never used things like shallots or made dishes like polenta and I enjoyed learning all the new words and flavors.

While preparing and eating food (I can eat a lot!) are a big part of my personal life, it is not an area I explore with my patients. Nutrition plays one of the most important roles in a body's ability to perform physical tasks, but it isn't a topic I feel comfortable discussing. I don't know all the details about food groups, calories needed, diabetic needs, etc. My perception of most of the people I encounter, both personally and professionally, is that very few people want advice on food. Conversation about food can easily progress into talking about diets and weight, and most people are self-conscious about those things.

Tell me what you think! Do you discuss nutrition with your patients? Do you feel like your patients' diet affects their performance with therapy - either for better or worse?


Its not just nutrition but hydration as well. I work mostly with older adults with COPD. They are as dry as a tumbleweed and wonder why they can't expectorate, why they continually get UTIs and why they feel so listless.

We should be approaching our patients from a holistic point of view. If we can't achieve goals with patients because they are mal-nourished or dehydrated, it is our responsibility to educate them as part of our practice.



Dean Metz October 2, 2010 2:28 PM

Al -

I was running this afternoon and saw a woman sitting on her lawn smoking a cigarette.  She had a 1-year old baby climbing on her lap.  I almost screamed.  I feel the same way about childhood obesity.  


Lisa West September 30, 2010 9:51 PM

Of course diet plays a HUGE role in how our patients perform and rehabilitate. Here in the South, I am constantly telling (lecturing) my patients about the need for a well balanced diet. So many of my patients have their ortho problems because they are so deconditioned and overweight. Amazing what fried food and a high fat diet will do for you, to say nothing about having an activity level of a stone. Where we as PT's run into trouble is that insurance companies want to know if you can get these patients back to their "prior level of function". Unfortunately, their prior level of function is usually the same as their present level of function - that is to say as little function as possible to get them through the day. See what you did Lisa? You got me to get on my soapbox and scream about one of my biggest pet peeves. Now, don't get me started on childhood obesity!!

Al DiMicco, Orthopedics - Director of PT, Ortho. Spec. of Ala September 30, 2010 3:29 PM
Bessemer AL

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