Off the Topic
Disability, millions of people on planet Earth struggle with it. According to the most recent report from the United States Census Bureau, more than 50 million people in the United States have a disability of some sort. No matter what country you live in, disability is prevalent. Rehabilitation professionals are here to help restore lost function and help people with disabilities achieve their full potential. Although this issue is titled “Off the Topic,” I think we would all agree that the primary topic that rehabilitation professionals all over the globe are focused on is “How can I best help my patient with his or her disability?” In pondering the answer to this question, we must ask ourselves what the “best practice” is for our patient's particular problem.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Best Practice” as “a procedure that has been shown by research and experience to produce optimal results and that is established or proposed as a standard suitable for widespread adoption.”
Rehabilitation research is being done all over the world as many physical therapists, occupational therapists, physicians, speech-language pathologists, and academic researchers are devoting their time and energy to finding evidence to support what we do or, to perhaps, change what we do to better help our patients. How amazing it is to know that no matter what longitude or latitude someone lives on this earth, there is a common desire for all people to live their lives as independently as possible, with or without disabilities.
This issue contains articles from 8 different countries, including Italy, Iran, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Brazil, and the United States. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation is pleased and honored to have these article submissions from all over the globe. This issue is packed full of informative and applicable research articles that answer a variety of questions. Did you know that your patients with chronic, nonspecific low back pain may experience reduced pain intensity and disability by incorporating a supervised aerobic exercise program along with a general back-school program? Did you know that extracting muscle synergies from electromyographic data is a widely used method in motor-related research? In this issue, the researcher analyzes the cooperation of jaw muscles in the act of chewing food. Do you work with patients who need to improve their dynamic balance and functional mobility? If so, an elastic band training program may help improve their scores in a Reach Test and the Six-Minute Walk Test. Did you know that reminiscence therapy may have cognitive benefits for older adults? Do you treat patients with chronic pain after lumbar surgery? Chronic pain may negatively influence your patient's perceived physical/mental health and physical activity. Did you know that lower extremity muscle strength can serve as a predictor of postural stability and fear of falling in older men and women? For example, strength of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip abductors can be a predictor of the results of the Timed Up and Go test. If you treat patients with Parkinson's disease, you would benefit from understanding what these patients view as difficulties and needs in regards to their healthcare. Do you have a patient who needs to improve his or her gait parameters? Perhaps using rigid perimeter insoles may improve your patient's gait parameters and subsequently decrease fall risk. Did you know that a treatment regimen of neuromuscular electrical stimulation on facial muscles may have a positive effect on labial strength? If you have a patient with low gait speed or low muscle strength, he or she may be at risk for developing sarcopenia.
No matter what country you live in, you can help others. You can be your patient's advocate. You can find out what the best practice is for your patient's problems or disabilities. You can become informed. You can do research. You can read research. You can share research with other clinicians and with your patients. It's up to you. Be better. Do better. Learn more. If you are reading this journal, you are already being proactive for your patients and improving your knowledge. Congratulations! Let's face it, our goal is to optimize function and to promote health and wellness through patient-focused, data-driven, individualized care. Let's all get to work!
—Wendy Powers James, PT
Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation