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Establishing a Good After-School Routine

Hamilton, New Jersey, April 19, 2016 – When it comes to homework and studying, having a plan helps students maximize their time and get more done. After a long day at school, many children want nothing more than to come home and toss the backpack aside, but Holli Murphy of the Hamilton Huntington Learning Center says that parents should encourage children to embrace a routine to minimize stress. “Having a set schedule after school sounds rigid, but really, it prevents students from unknowingly wasting their time,” Murphy says. “With a reliable routine, students are more productive overall and they also learn to take ownership of their schedules.”

Murphy offers these suggestions for parents who want to help their children establish successful after-school routines:

Have your child take the lead. One of the biggest benefits of creating a routine is that it empowers children to take responsibility for their daily to-dos. Sit down together to develop an after-school schedule that your child finds workable and in tune to his or her preferences (of when to study and when to enjoy downtime, for example).

Design with your child in mind. A routine will be more effective if it is created with your child’s input. Think about things like when your child is the most focused and what type of environment works best for your child to study (with siblings or alone? In his or her room or in the kitchen?). Pay attention to what works and stick to it.

Put the routine on display. Set expectations at home each day just as the teacher does in the classroom,. Hang the after-school routine in a visible location—consider buying a white board for the kitchen or somewhere similar—and have your child look at it before leaving for school and as soon as he or she gets home. It should be detailed enough to keep your child on task, but flexible to incorporate free time. For example, a student in elementary school could follow a routine such as:

            Empty backpack, prep for homework                         3:30-3:45

            Wash hands, snack                                                     3:45-4:00

            Homework                                                                  4:00-4:30

            Practice piano                                                             4:30-4:45

            Basketball practice                                                      5:00-6:00

            Dinner, cleanup                                                          6:00-7:00

            Reading, any other studying                                        7:00-7:30

            Bedtime prep                                                               7:30-8:00

            Free time                                                                     8:00-8:30

            Lights out                                                                    8:30                                        

 

Incorporate organization. At the end of each homework session, your child should take a few minutes to neaten his or her workspace, put away all supplies, check off any completed to-dos and mentally prepare for the next school day. Organization will help your child pick up where he or she left off at the next study session, minimizing ramp-up time and maximizing actual work time.

 

 

 

About Huntington

 

Huntington is the tutoring and test prep leader.  Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams.  Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards.  Founded in 1977, Huntington’s mission is to give every student the best education possible.  Learn how Huntington can help at www.huntingtonhelps.com. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.  

 

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Yoga and Physical Therapy

Most people don't think of yoga as something that is connected to physical therapy. However, yoga is an effective way to manage a variety of conditions, maintaining flexibility and fostering movement. Yoga can be an important adjunct to physical therapy to relieve pain and aid in reducing the risk of injury.

Yoga is more than a means of relieving stress. It does relieve stress, but it is also an effective way to reduce high blood pressure, improve circulation and stimulate the immune system, and ease the pain in a variety of chronic conditions.

Yoga can be performed by individuals of any age and is particularly effective for people with neurological conditions and joint disease. It promotes better sleep and is beneficial for those engaged in programs for anger management, smoking cessation, and substance abuse. Yoga combined with physical therapy is a complete wellness solution. It is beneficial for rehabilitation, improving balance, coordination, and motor skills.

Yoga Spans Centuries

Yoga has been practiced for centuries and experts in different parts of the world have made minor modifications to the execution of yoga. However, the goal remains the same – to align the body and mind. Specific physical positions are used to benefit musculoskeletal health and posture and promote breathing control.

One of the lesser known therapeutic advantages of yoga is its ability to affect mental and emotional health. These are necessary ingredients for successful recoveries and rehabilitation. Yoga aids in relieving anxiety and depression following injuries, during rehabilitation and prolonged recovery times.

A physical therapist can identify and improve range of motion, strength, stability and posture using scientifically validated strategies, procedures, and techniques. Yoga can provide the 'psychological foundation' for long term health and treatment and is a valuable adjunct to the evidence-based approach of physical therapy.

Combining Physical Therapy and Yoga

Depending upon the patient and their individual needs, yoga can be combined with skilled physical therapy. It is effective as a biofeedback tool to assist patients in monitoring and improving a sense of well-being.

As a combination, yoga and physical therapy can address an individual's medical condition, injury or dysfunction. The result is improved body awareness and flexibility with a boost in balance and coordination

Ask your physical therapists if combination therapy such as yoga and physical therapy is right for you. Our goal is the same as yours - to help you live a happy, healthy and productive life. Let's use the most cutting edge science about human anatomy and function (physical therapy) and centuries worth of movement psychology (yoga) and find the plan that works best for you. Call us today to learn more!

Specialized Physical Therapy, LLC 1919 Greentree Road Suite B Cherry Hill NewJersey 08003 Phone: 856-424-0993

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Your Kids Know what "420" Mean . . .Do You?

When youth talk about “420” they probably don’t mean the date Apollo 16 landed on the moon or Michael Jordan setting an NBA playoff record . They’re probably referring to “National Weed Day,” which has been gaining momentum since the early 70’s. Although this holiday isn’t marked on the calendar, it is celebrated by some people who smoke marijuana . It might be difficult to recognize, but there are many signs and symptoms that may suggest your child is engaged in “420” activities. Be in the know as this holiday will be celebrated by marijuana users around the globe. Be aware that “420” refers to not only April 20 th but the everyday afternoon hour of 4:20pm, as well.

Read more: http://www.princetonol.com/pdf/pcmc-420-flyer-201604.pdf

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Did you Know? Physical Therapy Can Reduce Pain and Improve Recovery after Surgery...

The medical term 'adhesions' refers to bands of scar tissue that form in the abdomen between organs, following surgery in the abdominal area.

They can develop following any type of pelvic surgery, from a C-section or cyst removal to exploratory laparoscopic procedures. The bands of fibrous tissues typically act as a scab and dissolve when they're no longer needed.

When they don't, pain and discomfort is significant. Physical therapy helps reduce pain and improve quality of life. The condition is common in women who have undergone a hysterectomy. The body's immune system tries to repair the damage, but the process makes the underlying problem worse. This is a challenging condition to diagnose, as the adhesions and symptoms may appear within a few weeks or even years after the surgery.
 

We help you Avoid Surgery

Adhesions can cause mild to moderate pain and cannot be traced to a recent injury or surgical procedure, making them extremely difficult to diagnose.

They can mimic other conditions that include appendicitis. Some women may even shrug off symptoms, hoping that it's a 'passing pain' if discomfort is mild. The inability to render a quick diagnosis often causes anxiety, frustration and depression.

Therapeutic massage is an important, yet overlooked treatment for the condition. It is effective for pain relief, and helps loosens adhesions with more intense techniques. It is also used for rehabilitation if surgery is required. Massage increases circulation while accelerating the healing process. Clinical pilates and exercise programs are also effective and preferred by some individuals. Exercises are specifically designed to build strength in the core and pelvic floor, which eases pain and can alleviate the need for surgery in many instances.

Leave the Pain of Adhesions Behind!

Adhesions like this are a common complication of hysterectomies. Adhesions can also occur as a result of C-sections and interfere with future fertility. The adhesions bond together tissues and organs that are meant to exist separately. In fact, they are the most common causes of intestinal blockages and bowel obstructions, both of which can become life threatening.

Physical therapy can help to break down pelvic and abdominal adhesions and aid in increased mobility of the connective tissue and of the muscles. This in turn can decrease pelvic pain. It is also possible that this can help with infertility and bowel or bladder obstructions.

Physical therapy can provide an effective alternative to surgery that relieves pain and loosens adhesions without the use of medications. Massage and clinical pilates both have additional benefits, like aiding individuals to increase their fitness level and improving overall mood for a better quality of life.

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How Much Do Extracurriculars Really Factor into a Student’s College Application?

A college application is composed of several parts: a student’s grades, test scores, essay or writing sample, letters of recommendation, and of course, list of extracurricular activities.

It’s well known that academics matter most in terms of college acceptance. Yet, high school students often hear over and over again from teachers, guidance counselors, and parents of the importance of extracurricular activities.

Many high school students take this advice and run with it—rapidly joining more clubs, teams, and organizations than can be counted on two hands. Are extracurriculars really this important?

According to some college admissions experts, extracurriculars matter, but probably not as much as most students are made to think.

Simply said, activity laundry lists do not impress,” said Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz, a professional college counselor and founder of admissionpossible.com.

Instead of loading up on so many activities, high school students should focus on the quality of their activities, said Shaevitz, which should be used as a supplement in their college applications. She added that in terms of admissions, it’s more important for students to be “consistently involved in one, two, or three activities and/or sports over a number of years, than superficially involved in eight, 10 or 12 for shorter periods of time.”

Indeed, admissions data supports the idea that student extracurriculars serve as supplements, not centerpieces, in college applications. When recently surveyed, the majority of U.S. colleges said extracurriculars have “moderate importance” (approximately 41 percent) or “limited importance (approximately 34 percent) when factored into a student’s overall college application, according to the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC).

In part, NACAC’s 2013 survey, which appears in the organization’s “2014 State of College Admission” report, asked colleges how much weight they gave common application factors: “considerable importance,” “moderate importance,” “limited importance,” or “no importance.”

In the eyes of most college admissions officers, students’ extracurricular activities are about as important as their letters of recommendation, based on the NACAC survey data. By contrast, most colleges surveyed ranked grades in college prep courses (approximately 82 percent), strength of curriculum (approximately 64 percent), admissions test scores (approximately 58 percent), and grades in all courses (approximately 52 percent) as having the highest levels of importance. Only approximately 10 percent of colleges ranked extracurriculars as highly important as these four factors.

Princeton University, a college that is both private and highly selective, says it places a high emphasis on all parts of a student’s application. Its online admission FAQ page states that the college does “not have a formula for weighing different parts of the application.” It additionally states that while the transcript is key, admissions officers take a holistic view at all components of a student’s application when making admissions decisions.

As for extracurricular activities, we recommend that students follow their individual interests in the special talents they want to develop in the visual and performing arts, athletics, leadership activities, and that they engage themselves civically,” said Janet Lavin Rapelye, Dean of Admission at Princeton University. “But they should choose these activities judiciously. Don’t overload.”

As Rapelye recommends, high school students should first and foremost find one or a few extracurricular activities they are interested in. Starting early—joining a few clubs, teams, or organizations as a high school freshman—can give students time to find exactly what they’re interested in, if they’re not already sure. Sticking with one or a few extracurriculars throughout all four years of high school is especially impressive to colleges.

According to some admissions experts, besides commitment, talent, and leadership as demonstrated through extracurriculars is also notable. High school students should be encouraged to try leadership roles, such as art club president or junior varsity soccer team captain, and to pursue activities in which they are afforded the opportunity to display their skills, such as the chess club or varsity track and field team.

But most importantly, experts say, participating in extracurriculars should not be stressful. Instead of fussing over which and how many activities they have on their college applications, high school students should participate in extracurriculars because they are fun.

My usual advice in this area is simply do things that you truly enjoy in high school, rather than trying to outguess an admissions committee,” said Jeffrey Brenzel, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Yale University from 2005 to 2013.

Brenzel added that students who participate in extracurriculars that they enjoy are likely to be good at those activities, and that, with time, their skills will improve further. Demonstrating this kind of personal growth, he said, is what is really the key to a student’s college application—and isn’t necessarily obviated by the typical list of extracurriculars.

“The important thing is: are you getting something out of it? Are you enjoying it? Are you learning how to do it better? Has it taken you some places that you wouldn’t otherwise have gone?” said Brenzel. “If so, you’re fine; because that’s what you’re going to talk about in one of your college essays. I’m often beset, particularly by parents—‘Should my daughter do this or do this?’—and they name three activities. And my answer is always the same: What is she most interested in doing? [Laughs] Because it’s your best shot at something that will also be appealing to the college because it’s going to proceed from your own set of interests.”

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What does RICE and MEAT have to do with Physical Therapy?

When you hear the words rice and meat, we won't blame you for thinking about food!

In the physical therapy world, the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) has long been the recommended treatment for sports injuries. It is a recognized way to handle injuries, but recent reports suggest that ice and complete rest might delay recovery. Complete rest causes the muscles surrounding the injury to tighten, causing the potential for further injury once the activity is resumed. Though ice is useful in the short window immediately after the injury, it can impede the healing process over time.

If RICE is out, what method should you use instead? It's called MEAT.

MEAT stands for "movement, exercise, analgesics, and treatment".

The theory is simple. To recover as quickly as possible from an injury, continue to move the affected joint as much as possible throughout the recovery period. Use common sense and remain within the limits of pain. Your body will tell you what it can, and cannot handle. The inflammation following an injury is part of the body's natural healing process. Increased blood flow to the area that helps repair the damaged tissue. The continued application of ice to an injury after the first few hours could in fact, a hindrance to this natural healing process.

MEAT is Good for the Body

M for Movement

Maintaining range of motion in the injured joint is an important aspect of recovery. Your physical therapist will guide you regarding specific do's and dont's with exercise. As a general rule, the more you move, the quicker you will heal. Listen to your body, since pain is an indication that something isn't right. Your therapist will help you maintain mobility in the joints surrounding the injury. This will reduce the formation of scar tissue and decrease recovery time.

E for Exercise

As the pain reduces, you will be encouraged to increase the duration and intensity of exercise under the watchful eyes of the physical therapist. A progressive routine of exercises will increase strength, improve balance and facilitate recovery. The primary objective during this stage is to promote healing while avoiding re-injury.
 
A for Analgesics

'Analgesic' is a medical term for pain relieving medication. It is best to consult with your physician to determine the most appropriate medications. Your doctor may recommend that you start with over-the-counter medication. If it is not effective, your doctor may prescribe prescription medications including steroids.
 
T for Treatment

A physical therapist plays an important part in long-term recovery following any injury. Physical therapy treatment includes a variety of procedures and modalities, including therapeutic exercise, ultrasound, manual therapy and neuromuscular re-education using advanced techniques. A physical therapist can restore, retrain and improve the joints and muscles in the human body.
Limitless - Looking Beyond RICE and MEAT

We believe that human potential is limitless. As specialists in the functioning of the human body, we have a reputation as 'recovery specialists' since we help heal bones, muscles, and joints.

Regarding what we can do for you, injury recovery is just the tip of the iceberg. Physical therapists can help athletes achieve peak performance, can help seniors live a healthy lifestyle and can help every single person live life with energy and vitality.

So how can we help you? The answer may surprise you. Perhaps we can help you relieve aches and pains. Perhaps we can help you become stronger and more flexible. Remember - injury or not, we are always here to help you. It's what we love doing, and we have dedicated our lives to improving the health of our patients and our community. So schedule an appointment today, and let's meet (no pun intended) to see what we can do for you.

 

This email was sent by specializedpt@verizon.net

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Using the Midyear Report Card to Help Your Child

Hamilton, New Jersey, January 27, 2016 – It’s midyear report card time, which might be a source of stress in your household—but it shouldn’t be, says Holly Murphy of the Hamilton Huntington Learning Center. “The midyear report card is a perfect opportunity to formulate a plan for the remainder of the school year, taking note of your child’s strengths and identifying any areas to work on,” says Murphy. “The information you receive in this report card is especially useful because you have time to address any issues and work with the teacher if necessary in the last half of the year.”

Murphy offers parents several suggestions and tips at midyear report card time:

Progress is key. In the wake of the Common Core State Standards now implemented in many states, your child is measured on his or her progress toward mastery of grade-level standards. That means your child isn’t expected to be proficient in any subject just yet. As you read the report card and talk with your child’s teacher, make sure your child is on the right track. If not, discuss how to help your child get up to speed.

Take note of higher-level thinking skills. As education is changing, students are expected more and more to think critically and more deeply about a wide range of topics. Pay attention to your child’s marks in this area, and if needed, talk with the teacher about how you can nurture the acquisition of these higher-level thinking skills.

Inspect the study skills. Parents tend to jump straight to the grades and overlook comments or marks on some of the skills that are integral to the learning experience. Read carefully for discussion of your child’s organization, time management, focus, neatness and overall attitude about learning. These skills are an important part of being an effective learner.

Watch the work ethic. Effort and persistence are important measures—a decrease in either should be a red flag. A student who tries in school and continues to experience failure may become so frustrated that he or she gives up. Pay attention to whether your child is giving his or her best effort in school. If not, investigate why.

Keep the big picture in mind. It’s easy for parents to get hung up on the specifics of the report card, but as you evaluate your child’s academic picture, don’t forget that every student encounters road blocks from time to time. If your child is struggling with one subject, or with certain aspects of one subject, don’t panic. Even if your child is having difficulty in several areas, remember that he or she isn’t alone. Many students stumble, but with targeted help and the teacher’s and your support, your child will recover.

Report cards are an excellent tool for parents to gain a detailed understanding of how their child is performing in school, but they’re much more than that, too. “At this point in the school year, it’s so important to check in with your child and his or her teacher about how the year is going,” says Murphy. “If there are trouble spots, the great news is that there’s time to address them before the end of the year.” If your child’s report card identifies problem areas, call Huntington at 1 800 CAN LEARN to learn how we can help your child with a customized program of instruction.

About Huntington

Huntington is the tutoring and test prep leader.  Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams.  Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards.  Founded in 1977, Huntington’s mission is to give every student the best education possible.  Learn how Huntington can help at www.hamilton.huntingtonhelps.com. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.  

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Jewelry for your Kitchen Design: A Guide to Selecting Cabinet Hardware

Just like picking the right jewelry completes a special outfit, kitchen hardware puts the finishing touches on a kitchen design. A kitchen renovation involves making decisions on items such as kitchen cabinets, countertops, and flooring that are typically a significant investment and must stand the test of time.  The kitchen hardware you select complements these items by pulling together the colors and style of your room.  Hardware selections also allow you to bring out your personality in a way that enhances your design, but also can be more easily swapped as tastes change. 

 

Here is a link to the full blog on the website:

http://langskitchens.com/articles/2015/11/16/jewelry-for-your-kitchen-design-a-guide-to-selecting-cabinet-hardware

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iD Tech Camp's 102 Questions Parents Should Ask to See if a Camp is Right for Their Child

We want your child to have an incredible camp experience, no matter where they sign up. Here are 102 questions you should ask your camp provider to make sure you've chosen the right camp.
See All Questions »

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Hottest New Wedding Trends for 2016

The Look

Recent years have seen brides rush to recreate their version of a royal wedding or something straight off a Pinterest board. But as we greet 2016, it’s clear brides are much more interested in going down the aisle their own way. “Couples today want a wedding that showcases who they are, that’s a fun experience for their guests and that won’t look or feel dated — ever,” says event planner Alison Laesser-Keck, of VLD Events in southeast Michigan. Here, top wedding pros share some key elements to this personal spin on romance and fun.

Bright on. Metallics are surprisingly versatile, says New York City event-planning guru Harriette Rose Katz. “Depending on how and where you bring them into your celebration,” she says, “they can be elegant, whimsical, ethereal or even very natural.” (Think glitzy golds to pop out room decor at a black-tie wedding, copper lanterns at an outdoor reception or on a rustic tablescape.) No matter the venue or theme, designers across the country say rose gold will show up on everything from rings to table linens. Even the food and drink get in on the trend, with shiny blush icings on desserts and rose-hued cocktails. One metallic that is on the wane, however, is silver.

sequin tablecloth

Photo Credit: Allyson Magda Photography

For more trends and to read the full article:  http://bridalguide.com/planning/the-details/reception/wedding-trends-2016

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Are You Too Hip For This?

Are You Too Hip For This?

Sometimes, we take the simple things for granted.

Take the hip joint, for example. Since the hip is a major weight-bearing joint, any injuries or discomfort can impact the ability to sit, stand and walk. We know about posture and the lower back, but the hip joint doesn't get a lot of attention.

In fact, gradual wear and tear of the hip joint and the surrounding muscles can lead to pain and discomfort over time. In some cases, this may lead to hip replacement surgery. A complex network of muscles and ligaments surround the hip joint to keep it stable, and mobile at the same time. The hip can function as a weight bearing joint, and dislocations are minimized.

When the hip is injured or operated upon, the ligaments and the muscles around the hip need time to heal and scar tissue forms. This can increase the possibility of a dislocation, cause pain and restrict motion. Physical therapy will help regain hip mobility and function while preventing postures that can harm the healing hip.

Exercise and Posture Tips

 

Postural awareness

In general, a physical therapist will advise patients to advise unstable positions including:

  • Allowing the leg to cross the midline of the body.
  • Outward rotation of the leg.
  • Flexing the hip at an angle of 80 degrees or more.

The most important aspect of recovery is gradual weight bearing and movement under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. Gradual walking builds flexibility and strength.

Ongoing assessments and postural feedback from your therapist will ensure that the neck, back, hip and knee align correctly. The therapist will also make sure that you can sit, stand and walk in a manner that is safe for the healing hip joint.

Healing exercises

Simple home exercises will help the hip heal as strength and mobility improve. Always consult with your doctor and physical therapist before doing any exercises. You can repeat all of these exercises 10 - 15 times. Stop if you experience any pain. Don't forget to do an equal number on the other side!

  • Knee extension

While lying on your back on a comfortable surface such as a bed, place a pillow under both knees. Slowly straighten one leg at a time, hold your leg extended for a count of five, then gently lower.

  • Hip abduction

Lie on your side with the legs stacked on top of each other, with a pillow between your knees. Keep your toes pointing forward, or slightly outwards. Now, raise your top leg upward and gently lower it.

  • Gluteal muscle hip extension

Lie flat on your back with your legs together. Gently squeeze your gluteal muscles and hold for a count of 5, then release. As you get stronger, extend the hold up to a count of 10.

  • Knee extension (static)

Lie on your back with your legs together. Tighten the quadriceps (the front of your thigh) and press the back of your knee down. Hold for a count of 5, and then release.

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Modern society comes with desk jobs, prolonged sitting, and repetitive motions that weaken the hip joints. As a result, the lower back and knees are forced to compensate. Muscle imbalances and poor posture compound the problem. Over time, this reinforces poor movement patterns, eventually resulting in pain and discomfort.

It's not too late, however, to say 'Hip, Hip, Hooray!' Regular walking is the easiest way to keep the hip joint healthy. Try and get in as many steps as you can every day and involve a friend or significant other.

Before you start any exercises, schedule an appointment with us. As your physical therapists, we will evaluate and identify ways to protect and strengthen your hip joints. The truth is - most individuals have unstable, weak hip joints with limited movements. We can help address this right away. Don't compound the problem by ignoring it.

Schedule an appointment with us right away, and we'll tell you what's going on within minutes of your initial evaluation. Physical therapy can indeed change your life. We look forward to working with you.

Specialized Physical Therapy, LLC 1919 Greentree Road Suite B Cherry Hill NewJersey 08003 Phone: 856-424-0993

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How to Protect and Strengthen the Knee (and Foot)

How to Protect and Strengthen the Knee (and Foot)

Knee and foot injuries are common for people of all ages. They tend to occur during day-to-day activities such as walking, climbing stairs and running. In most cases, people tend to ignore the pain and just 'carry on', leading to more injury and pain. Rest and medication help reduce pain. However, the residual effects of knee and foot injuries (loss of strength and mobility) are best treated with physical therapy.

The knee joint is a complex, weight-bearing structure and the ankle, in particular, is protected by ligaments on the inside, outside and the front. Sudden twisting movements can lead to tendon and ligament tears, and in some cases, fractures. Also, a myriad of injuries including strains, sprains, plantar fasciitis, fractures, meniscal tears and ligament tears can lead to impaired mobility and severe pain. These conditions can make it difficult, if not impossible for the individual to walk until the injury heals.

Depending on the severity of the injury, surgery may be required. With or without surgery, physical therapy plays a vital role in recovery from knee and ankle injuries.

Time to Heal

Due to the sensitive, weight-bearing nature of the hip and knee joint, it is critical to allow sufficient time for the healing process. Once healing is complete, physical therapy can begin.

The healing process typically results in

-    Weaker muscles
-    Tighter ligaments
-    Reduced blood flow
-    Scar tissue formation
-    Joint restrictions

Pain and discomfort is experienced during movement and weight bearing.

Physical therapy will increase strength and mobility to prepare the knee and ankle for active, daily life. Exercises and techniques used by physical therapists include, but are not limited to:

-    Therapeutic exercises to strengthen the muscles in the hip, knee, and ankle
-    Manual techniques to increase mobility of underlying joints, improve blood circulation and break down scar tissue (when indicated)
-    Balance exercises to improve posture and biomechanics while sitting, standing and walking
-    Weight control, as needed, to reduce weight bearing stress on the hip, knee and ankle
-    Identification of appropriate assistive devices and footwear to facilitate mobility.

Time to Take a Stand!

Physical therapists use sound, scientifically proven principles of human anatomy, physiology, movement and psychology to help patients lead healthy, pain-free lives.

The therapist will conduct an initial evaluation followed by several progress notes to document progress over time. A comprehensive analysis establishes a 'clinical baseline' and identifies muscle imbalances, causes of pain and joint alignments. This is the foundation for short and long-term goals designed to help individuals recover completely. In fact, physical therapy can address every aspect of recovery including:
-    Gait
-    Biomechanical aspects like spine/hip/foot alignments
-    Lower back strength
-    Pain levels
-    Functional capability

As your physical therapist, we will get you back on your feet as soon as possible. Call us today to learn more. You deserve the right kind of care. It's time to take a stand. Let's do it together. We are here to help.

Specialized Physical Therapy, LLC 1919 Greentree Road Suite B Cherry Hill NewJersey 08003 Phone: 856-424-0993

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How to Deal with Chronic Joint and Muscle Pain

All of us have experienced pain and discomfort in the muscles and joints at some point, especially with age. In most cases, the use of over the counter medications, hot/cold packs and rest help resolve the problem.
Muscle and joint pain can be extremely troublesome to say the least. Some cases start with mild discomfort while others can become so severe that simple things like sitting, standing and walking become extremely painful, limiting day to day activities.

Although physical therapy can improve any condition involving muscle and joint pain, certain conditions make ongoing ongoing physical therapy a necessity. These include:

- Osteoarthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Peripheral neuropathy and neuropathic pain
- Fibromyalgia

 
Step by Step Improvement

For people suffering from chronic pain and discomfort, physical therapy improves quality of life. Physical therapists design treatment plans to increase range of motion, flexibility and strength, while reducing pain in the muscles and joints.

Relieving pain in the muscles and joints is the primary goal. A careful designed exercise program helps improve blood flow to the affected areas.

The first thing a physical therapist will do is to help you understand your limits, so you don't hurt yourself by doing too much too soon. Physical therapists using a variety of procedures and modalities to relieve chronic pain in the muscles and the joints. This also helps patients to safely increase strength and mobility while reducing pain.

Procedures include therapeutic exercise, manual therapy and neuromuscular reeducation. Modalities include electrical stimulation, ultrasound and hot / cold therapy. The therapist will use his / her clinical judgement to identify, design and implement the right protocol based on the needs of the patient.

A Scientific, Proven Solution

Physical therapy is a proven solution to chronic muscle and joint problems. This condition can affect individuals of all ages, and has the potential to impact every aspect of life.

Patients require emotional and physical support since the condition can become severely limiting in nature. Patients may experience anxiety, depression, and potential disability as the condition advances.

The good news is - we can teach you what to do, and we are here to help you. Physical therapists dedicate their lives to helping individuals get better, stronger and live life without pain. We want you to experience the full benefits of strength and mobility. We strive to achieve life changing improvements in all our clients. Nothing makes us happier. We want to see that smile on your face when you walk out of our clinic. It's why we do what we do.

Physical therapy can empower patients with chronic joint/muscle pain and improve the quality of life. Let us show you what we can do or you. To get started, call us today to discover how we can help you deal with chronic joint and muscle pain.

Specialized Physical Therapy, LLC 1919 Greentree Road Suite B Cherry Hill NewJersey 08003 Phone: 856-424-0993

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What Do Insects Do in Winter? Some Come Inside Your Home . . .

Insects are naturally cold-blooded creatures and in order to survive the cold winters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they must find a way to adapt. Some bugs such as the monarch butterfly simply migrate before it gets too cold, while other insects overwinter in your home. But what exactly does overwinter mean?

To escape the winter, certain types of bugs seek the comfort of your home in insulated areas. Overwintering bugs will traditionally seek south-facing walls since they offer the greatest warmth due to sun radiation during the winter and will seek to "shutdown" in order to survive the coldest months. The bugs will also not eat, grow, or reproduce, which is why they are generally not considered an infestation.

Although the living space inside your home is nice and cozy, entering your house is actually an accident for these bugs since they typically enter your home through imperfections in your home's exterior. Once they are overwintering, often times they can wake up prematurely when it is too cold to go back outside which is when you typically see the bugs as they are exploring your home.

Some insects that have been known to overwinter are: Stink Bugs Paper Wasp Queens Elm Leaf and Lady Beetles Box Elder Bugs Leaf Footed Bugs In order to prevent the bugs from entering your home, listed below are some good preventative measures to keep overwintering bugs outside.

Caulk or seal all openings near doors and windows; around pipes, outlets, and vents.

Caulk any splits in siding and cracks in foundations and walls.

Seal cracks or openings under eaves and along roofs.

In addition to the preventative measures listed above, proactive pesticide applications by Cooper Pest Solutions can help to eliminate the invasion before it starts."

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Benefits of Physical Therapy for Kids

Having a physical therapist as a part of the team providing treatment to children is extremely valuable. Their input into the care of the child provides valuable insights into what the long term outlooks are, and how parents themselves can work with their children to help in treatment and rehabilitation. Physical therapists provide a roadmap that helps parents to promote their child's independence along with enhancing their motor ability and function. This overall care allows the parents to be actively involved, with the additional benefit of increasing the confidence of the child to try more activities. Parents also more assured that the care provided is improving their child's overall health.

What are the goals of pediatric physical therapists?

They are committed to ensuring the holistic development of the child by improving motor function and coordination, increasing confidence and promoting independence on the part of the child. They collaborate with parents, physicians, other healthcare providers and child-centric organizations to ensure that the care and treatment provided is consistently delivered to the child.

After all, every child deserves to be independent and have the ability to pursue and achieve their dreams. Pediatric physical therapists help achieve that goal.

Let Us Help You Take Care of Your Child

A pediatric physical therapist can make a substantial contribution to the development of a child. Their thoughtful insights and valuable input in shaping a child's care may be under-recognized by the community at large, but healthcare professionals have realized their importance and now actively involve them in their multi-disciplinary teams tasked with looking after children.
Call us today and we will show you what physical therapy can do for you and your children.
Specialized Physical Therapy, LLC
Our Princeton location: 1000 Herrontown Rd, Building 2, Floor 2, Princeton, NJ 08540

P: 609-497-1000

F: 609-497-1005

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Bell's Palsy - What it is and What You Can Do

The 43 Muscles in the Face

Did you know the face has 43 muscles? These are tiny muscles that control facial expressions like smiling, smirking and frowning. In fact, there is a condition called Bell's palsy that affects facial muscles, as a direct result of nerve damage.

The dysfunction affects a primary cranial nerve that controls facial muscles, resulting in temporary paralysis for some, but others experience lingering effects that can last several years.

Causes include a brain tumor, stroke or Lyme disease. Other causes include viral infections like herpes simplex 1, chickenpox, German measles and mononucleosis. In some patients, no definitive cause can be found contributing to Bell's palsy.

Patient's may experience difficulty blinking and closing the eyes, raising their eyebrows, and smiling and frowning. This can also affect taste. Individuals may also experience balance problems, tingling of the face, memory problems and weak muscles. Bell's palsy can appear as a single condition or as part of a larger neurological dysfunction.

Some patients achieve a spontaneous recovery and regain near-normal function. Patients may have lingering problems such as the inability to close one or both eyes, necessitating protection to prevent the eye(s) from drying out. Hearing loss is also common. Men and women are affected, and those with diabetes or upper respiratory ailments face additional risk.

Let's Face This Together

Various physical therapy methods can be used to help patients with Bell's palsy. It's essential to begin physical therapy as soon as possible. Options include:

Acupuncture/Dry Needling – Used to stimulate specific nerve and muscle sets to maintain facial tone, ease pain, and release stress. Reduces the potential for further neurological damage.

Electrical Stimulation – Stimulation of muscle and nerve groups to maintain tone and improve function. Reduces muscle 'wasting' or atrophy.

Facial Muscle Exercise – Mild facial exercises maintain facial tone and reduce muscle weakness. Activities are tailored to each individual. Improves coordination and maintains 'muscle memory'.

Clinical Pilates – A loss of balance and coordination can be treated with a specialized exercise program that focuses on small movements to build strength and regain balance.

Heat Therapy – Supervised application of hot packs helps circulation around nerves and muscles.

Biofeedback – Helps individuals regain movement control by identifying and isolating the pertinent muscles. Helps increase patient awareness of facial muscles.

Time to Face the World

The face is the most recognizable part of the human anatomy.

It provides others with insight into our feelings. The muscles of the face allow verbal and non-verbal communication.

The loss of control over facial muscles (or any injury to the face) can be extremely intimidating, but we are here to help. A physical therapist is a specialist in movement control for all joints and muscles in the body. We can help you regain function and control. We can also help prevent potential complications.

If you suspect you may be suffering from Bell's palsy or know someone who is, don't hesitate to call us. We treat a wide variety of diseases, syndromes and conditions to alleviate pain and restore functionality. The sooner you begin, the better. Call us today, and together, we'll help you face the world.

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Back to School Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics

The following health and safety tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Feel free to excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety in any print or broadcast story, with acknowledgment of source.
 
MAKING THE FIRST DAY EASIER

    •    Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. This may be at any age. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
    •    Point out the positive aspects of starting school. She'll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.
    •    Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your student can walk to school or ride on the bus.
    •    If it is a new school for your child, attend any available orientations and take an opportunity to tour the school before the first day.
    •    If you feel it is needed, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day.


BACKPACK SAFETY
    •    Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
    •    Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child's body weight.
    •    Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
    •    If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs, they may be difficult to roll in snow, and they may not fit in some lockers.


TRAVELING TO AND FROM SCHOOL

Review the basic rules with your student:

School Bus
    •    Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
    •    Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
    •    Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
    •    Remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required.
    •    Your child should not move around on the bus.
    •    If your child's school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. (If your child's school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school system to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts.}
Car
    •    All passengers should wear a seat belt or use an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.
    •    Your child should ride in a car safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.
    •    Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4' 9" in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means that the child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down and the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, not the stomach.
    •    All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger's seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it.
    •    Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You should require seat belt use, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations,  texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction. Limit nighttime driving and driving in inclement weather. Familiarize yourself with your state's graduated driver's license law and consider the use of a parent-teen driver agreement to facilitate the early driving learning process. For a sample parent-teen driver agreement, see www.healthychildren.org/teendriver
Bike
    •    Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
    •    Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
    •    Use appropriate hand signals.
    •    Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
    •    Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.
    •    Know the "rules of the road."
Walking to School
    •    Make sure your child's walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
    •    Identify other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.  In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider organizing a "walking school bus," in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
    •    Be realistic about your child's pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
    •    If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
    •    Bright-colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.


EATING DURING THE SCHOOL DAY
    •    Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school, and have better concentration and more energy.
    •    Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home and/or have them posted on the school's website. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.
    •    Look into what is offered in school vending machines. Vending machines should stock healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water and 100 percent fruit juice.  Learn about your child's school wellness policy and get involved in school groups to put it into effect.
    •    Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child's risk of obesity by 60%. Choose healthier options to send in your child's lunch.


BULLYING

Bullying or cyberbullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or through mobile devices like cell phones.

When Your Child Is Bullied
    •    Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to: 1. Look the bully in the eye. 2. Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation. 3. Walk away.
    •    Teach your child how to say in a firm voice. 1. "I don't like what you are doing." 2. "Please do NOT talk to me like that." 3. "Why would you say that?"
    •    Teach your child when and how to ask a trusted adult for help.
    •    Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
    •    Support activities that interest your child.
    •    Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
    •    Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child's safety and well-being when you cannot be there.
    •    Monitor your child's social media or texting interactions so you can identify problems before they get out of hand.
When Your Child Is the Bully
    •    Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
    •    Set firm and consistent limits on your child's aggressive behavior.
    •    Be a positive role mode. Show children they can get what they want without teasing, threatening or hurting someone.
    •    Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
    •    Develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, counselors, and parents of the children your child has bullied.
When Your Child Is a Bystander
    •    Encourage your child to join with others in telling bullies to stop.
    •    Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult about the bullying.
    •    Help your child support other children who may be bullied. Encourage your child to include these children in activities.


BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL CHILD CARE
    •    During early and middle childhood, youngsters need supervision. A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and supervise them after school until you return home from work.
    •    If a family member will care for your child, communicate the need to follow consistent rules set by the parent regarding discipline and homework.
    •    Children approaching adolescence (11- and 12-year-olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age.
    •    If alternate adult supervision is not available, parents should make special efforts to supervise their children from a distance. Children should have a set time when they are expected to arrive at home and should check in with a neighbor or with a parent by telephone.
    •    If you choose a commercial after-school program, inquire about the training of the staff. There should be a high staff-to-child ratio, and the rooms and the playground should be safe.


DEVELOPING GOOD HOMEWORK AND STUDY HABITS
    •    Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework. Children need a consistent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.
    •    Schedule ample time for homework.
    •    Establish a household rule that the TV and other electronic distractions stay off during homework time.
    •    Supervise computer and Internet use.
    •    Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child's homework for her.
    •    Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. It may be helpful to close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically when it will not be too disruptive.
    •    If your child is struggling with a particular subject, and you aren't able to help her yourself, a tutor can be a good solution. Talk it over with your child's teacher first.
    •    Some children need help organizing their homework. Checklists, timers, and parental supervision can help overcome homework problems.
    •    If your child is having difficulty focusing on or completing homework, discuss this with your child's teacher, school counselor, or health care provider.
    •    Establish a good sleep routine. Insufficient sleep is associated with lower academic achievement in middle school, high school and college, as well as higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness. The optimal amount of sleep for most adolescents is in the range of 8.5 to 9.5 hours per night.


 © 2015 - American Academy of Pediatrics

 

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Why You Shouldn't Over Do It . . .

Why You Shouldn't Overdo It...

We have all heard the phrase 'No pain, no gain'. When it comes to the human body, discomfort is acceptable, but pain is not. In fact, there is a threshold of pain tolerance that is unique to each individual.

It's important to understand and respect this limit. When the body is pushed past this 'breaking point', injuries and long-term damage can occur. On the other hand, the right approach towards exercise, nutrition and rest can actually increase this limit at any age. When you exercise in a gradual and progressive manner under the supervision of a physical therapist, the body becomes stronger, and injuries are avoided.

Overtraining syndrome occurs when an individual participates in new activities that the body is unaccustomed to. It also occurs when an individual does the same actions for a prolonged period, or in the absence of warm up and stretching routines. Sometimes, a specific area of the body hurts, and the individual will notice impairments in movement, coordination and performance. Athletes with overtraining injuries may display fatigue, disturbances in sleep patterns and appetite suppression in severe cases.

The Physical Therapy Arsenal

If left unchecked, overtraining can lead to long-term pain and disability. Physical therapy goes a long way in the prevention of overtraining. A variety of physical therapy techniques can be used to evaluate, prevent and treat overtraining injuries. These include:

Therapeutic Massage – Relaxation of soft tissue and increased blood circulation to affected areas is a great way to relieve pain and inflammation associated with overtraining.

Clinical Pilates – The specialized exercise programs of Clinical Pilates help improve flexibility and build core and pelvic floor strength.

Aquatic Therapy–The buoyancy of water provides gentle support, allowing patients to perform movements that might not otherwise be possible. The soothing effect of water allows the body to gain strength, coordination and flexibility in a gradual manner.

Dry Needling – Similar to acupuncture, dry needling is used to release muscle tension, alleviate pain and stimulate the body's natural healing abilities.

Manual Manipulation and Mobilization – Using a combination of specialized active and passive techniques to facilitate motion between joints, a physical therapist can increase joint mobility and facilitate a return to full function.

When Less is More

Overtraining injuries can happen suddenly or develop over time. With the proper precautions and supervision from a physical therapist, you can enjoy an active lifestyle without pain and discomfort. Little things go a long way in the prevention of overtraining syndrome.

Simple ways to prevent overtraining include gradual, progressive exercise, appropriate footwear and adequate warm up and stretching. A physical therapist will teach you to use the right technique, range of motion and breathing when you exercise.

The therapist will also build a training program with the appropriate degree of intensity and frequency. The goal is to challenge, but not overwhelm you. When you remain within your 'threshold', expect to significant improvements in strength, flexibility and mobility over a period.

If you or someone you know has complained of pain or discomfort after swimming, cycling, running or any activity, give us a call. We will look for signs of overtraining and take action accordingly. We are committed to helping you live a happy and healthy lifestyle. We will make sure you don't overdo it, and we will teach you how to work smart and not just work hard. Sometimes, less is more.

Specialized Physical Therapy, LLC 1919 Greentree Road Suite B Cherry Hill NewJersey 08003 Phone: 856-424-0993

Yes! Physical Therapy Can Help Urinary Incontinence

Incontinence is an embarrassing condition that affects men, women and children of all ages. A common symptom is the loss of bladder control when coughing, sneezing, lifting and laughing.

Incontinence can be temporary or persistent. Temporary loss of bladder control is related to diet, alcohol, caffeine and prescription medications. Underlying medical conditions such as urinary tract infections and chronic constipation also play a role.

Persistent loss of bladder control may be related to pregnancy, age-related changes in the bladder, menopause and enlarged prostate. Disorders of the brain and spinal cord like stroke and Parkinson's disease can also cause loss of bladder control.

This has vast social implications for patients, who turn to adult diapers, medications and even surgical interventions.

Getting Back the 'Mind-Muscle' Link

Incontinence can be treated effectively with a variety of physical therapy techniques including, but not limited to:

Kegel Exercises – This involves controlled contractions of the pelvic floor muscles, using a hold and release pattern for a designated number of repetitions and sets. The frequency and intensity is gradually increased over time.

Clinical Pilates – These specialized exercises help strengthen the core and pelvic floor muscles.

Electrical Stimulation – The use of mild electrical currents to stimulate the pelvic floor muscles tends to mimic the 'hold and relax' pattern of Kegel exercises.

Biofeedback – A technique used to build the 'mind-body' connection between the brain and the muscles of the pelvic floor. This helps patients identify, contract and control specific muscles surrounding the urinary tract.

Your physical therapist may use a combination of techniques, and may design a home exercise program to help you achieve results as quickly as possible.

Regaining Control of your Life..

Incontinence can take an emotional toll on a patient. Social implications include feeling of guilt, shame, and depression in some cases. Family members and physical therapists must work together to support and help the patient prepare for 'accidents' by planning ahead prior to outdoor activities.

Incontinence is more prevelent than most people realize. It can be treated with a combination of traditional medicine and physical therapy. Mental health counselling may be required in some cases.

Physical therapy, in particular, plays an important role in the strengthening and retraining of the pelvic floor muscles. Therapy can also strengthen the lower back and realign posture to dramatically improve the quality of life.

If you or someone you know is suffering from incontinence, schedule a consult with us. Physical therapy will help you regain control of your life in more ways than one.

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A Solid Musical Foundation Paves the Way for Many Musical Successes

When I was younger, studying classical music, I really had to put in the time. Three hours a day is not even nice - you have to put in six.

--Alicia Keys
 

Earlier this year, I was watching television and came across the presentation of the Gershwin Prize, honoring Billy Joel.  The Gershwin Prize is a newly established award by the United States Library of Congress, honoring a songwriter who has made significant contributions to the popular American song.  (http://www.loc.gov/about/awards-and-honors/gershwin-prize/) Previous honorees have included Carole King, Paul Simon, and Stevie Wonder. 

 

The award is aptly named for George and Ira Gershwin, American songwriters of the Tin Pan Alley era, whose songs such as "Embraceable You" and "I Got Rhythm" are still well-known today. 

 

The award is given during a concert in Washington D.C. each year featuring the songs of the honoree, often performed by other well-known artists.  The concert honoring Billy Joel was a real treat—the band tightly wove wonderful arrangements of the well-known hits, the singers executed the vocals beautifully.  The highlight of the concert was when Billy Joel himself came to the stage and played several numbers with the group.  I was so impressed with his technical prowess at the piano and his musically sensitivity to the songs.  After the concert, the 2013 concert honoring Carole King was aire, and I was glued to the television.  Again, I was moved and inspired by Carole King's effortless piano technique and ease at the instrument.  An added bonus was the pleasure of hearing so many familiar songs from the 60s-80s.

 

As one does these days, I began researching these artists online.  I learned that both Billy Joel and Carole King had an extensive background in classical music.  Joel comes from a musical family—his half brother is a classical conductor in Europe—and studied classical piano from an early age.  He also is a composer of classical music, and released a classical album in 2001.  Likewise, Carole King studied the piano since age four and had early experiences in conducting.

 

As I enjoyed these concerts, I couldn't help but think about my own students.  As I work with young people, I have no idea what the future holds for them.  They may become a professional musician in a variety of musical styles or genres, or they may be  professionals in another field, enjoying music for life.  Regardless of my students' future career path, I found myself wanting to give them the following messages:

 

1.     Work to be the best musician you can be in all areas—don't limit yourself!  I doubt that when Billy Joel was a young piano student, studying Mozart and Beethoven, that he imagined himself playing "Piano Man" every night.  Maybe he did, we don't know!  However, I do know that he worked to master his instrument.  He likely spent many hours at the piano practicing scales and arpeggios—his technical facility at the piano proves it.  He is also deeply familiar with a wide variety of styles and genres.  If he had limited himself as a youngster, determined to focus only on one certain style, he likely wouldn't be the amazing musician we know him to be today. 

2.     Challenge yourself.  We all have areas of music that come more easily than others.  Some students have wonderful ears, but need to work harder to read music effortlessly.  Others are the exact opposite.  Some students compose and improvise readily, while others shy away from these activities.  Some students transpose without giving it much thought, while others have to work much harder at it.  Cultivate your strengths, but don't neglect a focus on the musical elements that are your weakness.  Commit to a steady, diligent practice in these areas, set regular goals for yourself and hold yourself accountable.

3.     Explore ALL musical styles and genres.  We all have our preferences for certain styles of music.  Some prefer major pieces to minor ones, or vice versa; others may be drawn to music of the Romantic Period, popular styles, or Bach Inventions.  It is common to want to focus on the styles of music that are our favorites.  Again, we can learn from Billy Joel.  As a young musician, he immersed himself in a variety of musical styles.  I want my students to immerse themselves in all kinds of music.  Listen to classical piano music, symphonies, opera, and chamber music, as well as popular music—both current and past—folk music, and any genre you can! This vast musical knowledge has certainly helped Billy Joel throughout his career, and it will do the same for every piano student. 

 

So, to today's students I say: listen to every type of music you can get your hands on—Beethoven, opera, and Billy Joel; focus on your weaknesses and challenge yourself to improve on the areas of musical skills that are hard for you.  In addition, always strive to be the best musician that you can be to set yourself up well for a lifetime of enjoying and experiencing the transformative power of music!

 

 

Rebecca Mergen Pennington has been on the faculty of The New School for Music Study since 2007, and currently serves as the Administrative Director.  Dr. Pennington holds a doctorate from the University of Kansas, where she studied with Jack Winerock.  Dr. Pennington performs as a solo and collaborative artist and enjoys teaching students of all ages and levels.  

 The New School for Music Study is one of the country's leading centers in piano education and provides a variety of programs and classes for piano students. Our school is conveniently located in the Princeton area of central New Jersey, offering piano lessons for students from Princeton, Plainsboro, East Windsor, West Windsor, Kingston and other surrounding communities.

 

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