Geriatric Physical Therapy and Nutrition

By Dr. Sean M. Wells

Many facets of nutrition can impact older adults' function and health. The focus on this blog article will be to highlight how inflammation, which can be mediated via diet, impacts older adult function and health. 

Using the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII), physical therapists can quantify the amount of inflammation a client's diet is provoking. Essentially the score ranges from as low as -5 to as high as 5, with a "fast food diet being reported at 4 and a macrobiotic diet being listed at -5. Probably the best diets on the DII are vegetarian Indian diets and other Asian diets rich in vegetables and spices. Another way of "scoring" or ranking the inflammation cause by a diet is to use an A-F system. An "A" score would be ideal and the most negative (e.g. close to -5, which is the least inflammatory), while "F" is the most inflammatory (e.g. most positive, 5). An average, or "C" score, would be a 0. 

 Using the DII, PTs can see how diet...

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Top Nutrition Apps for Physical Therapists

By Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS, NSCA-CPT CNPT, Cert-DN

Physical therapists (PTs) are stepping up their game and focusing on important in the clients' lives: social determinants of health (SDOH), wellness, alcohol and drug use, sleep, and nutrition. As we venture into a newer world of PT practice, clinicians need to be armed with useful tools and resources to help them along the way. Let's outline some of our team's favorite nutrition apps that have helped us help many clients.

Nutrition Guide for Clinicians

Published by the well-known Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), the Nutrition Guide for Clinicians is a simple app that all Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPT) should have installed on their phones. The app allows a clinician to easily look up a condition or diagnosis, and then scroll through easily summarized data on simple nutrition tips that can contribute or treat the disease. Authors of the app list copious studies in their references...

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Physical Therapy and Alcohol: A Good Mix?

By: Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS, CNPT, NSCA-CPT, Cert DN

Many people kickback and enjoy a cold beer or nice glass of wine with a meal or just to relax. But does alcohol consumption pose a risk to our health and physical therapy patients? The answer can be difficult to find amongst the literature, especially due to industry influence. Let's take a look at the guidelines, some upcoming revisions to alcohol intake recommendations, and what all this means to PTs and physical therapy outcomes.

Old Guidelines

Alcohol intake guidance varies depending on where you live. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Dietary Guidelines demonstrates that females should consume no more than 1 drink per day, while males can have 2 drinks per day. Most of this guidance is rooted in the fact that males usually have larger mass, and therefore, can physiologically "handle" more booze. Obviously all drinks are not created equal, so if  a person...

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Our Team Featured in Eat This Not That

It's exciting to see our team has been active in the community and online. Dr. Wells was featured in the online blog, Eat This Not That, over the past few years. Here are few excellent articles focused on nutrition, physical therapy, weight loss, and health.

Enjoy reading these articles and stay tuned for more!

If you like what you see here then know there is more in our 3 board-approved continuing education courses on Nutrition specific for Physical Therapists. Enroll today in our new bundled course offering and save 20%, a value of $60!


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Learn about the Top 5 Functional Foods to Fight Inflammation and Pain in Physical Therapy. 


Image source: Stock Catalog licensed by CC 2.0

Keywords: nutrition, continuing education, weight loss, PT, physical...

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Physical Therapy, Weight Loss, and Arthritis

By Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, CNPT, Cert-DN

Weight Loss and Physical Therapy

Traditional physical therapy (PT) does an amazing job at treating dysfunction, pain, and problems. Preventative care and wellness, such as weight loss, was once taboo and often ignored by many physical therapists. However, today's Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPTs) are truly embracing more holistic treatments like nutrition, mindfulness, and sleep habits. Having physical therapy patients lose weight can help reduce inflammation, prevent health issues, and may improve PT outcomes. But what about stopping the weight gain in the first place? Weight gain prevention is vitally important, as it is much more difficult to lose the weight than it is to gain it. Given such interest in these topics, our team found it relevant to consider a recent study looking at weight gain and arthritis -- let's make the case for more PTs to start talking about patients preventing weight.

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The Most Important Nutrient for Arthritis

By Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, CNPT, Cert-DN

There's always a blog or hot article on your newsfeed talking about a "miracle" nutrient or special vitamin. While many of these articles are complete clickbait or mere fluff to get you to buy their supplements, this article has some science and experience behind it. Now that we have that settled, I want to explore the one nutrient that I think has the biggest impact on clients with arthritis: fiber. 

Arthritis comes in several forms but the 2 most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We as physical therapists (PTs) often help clients with both of these diseases. From exercises, manual therapy, modalities, dry needling, and education -- our roles as PTs is to help our clients move better and reduce their pain. So, how does all this physical therapy talk for OA and RA fit in with fiber? 

Fiber is uniquely a plant-based product that is essentially indigestible to human...

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Physical Therapists Should Be Promoting Weight Loss

Image: Obesity by Jesper Sehested using Creative Commons - (CC BY 2.0) 

Physical Therapists Should Be Promoting Weight Loss

By Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC, CSCS, CNPT, Cert-DN

Physical therapists (PTs) specialize in movement, exercise, and rehabilitation. Our role as healthcare providers extends into many facets  of life and wellness. From stress reduction to nutrition, PTs ought to consider interventions beyond the basic modalities.  Diet can have a substantial impact on weight loss and its commiserate reductions in pain and inflammation, and improvements in function. Regardless of what setting (e.g. outpatient, nursing home, acute care), PTs can educate patients on the benefits of weight loss and even provide simple steps to reducing weight. 

What are the best nutrition methods PTs can provide patients to reduce or even prevent obesity in the first place? A simple answer can be found in the literature centered on the Whole Food Plant-based Diet...

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A New Vital Sign for PTs? Diet?


Most physical therapists (PTs) routinely measure the vital signs. Heart rate, blood pressure, pulse oxygen, respiration rate, and often pain. But what about diet? Should diet be another vital sign? In the opinion of many scientists and medical experts diet ought to be a major vital sign that is measured by not only registered dietitians (RDs) and/or medical doctors (MDs), but also healthcare providers like PTs, on a routine basis.

What evidence do we have to say that diet ought to a basic vital sign? How about the fact that diet is the single leading predictor variable of all major health outcomes? The vast majority, roughly 80% according to the literature, of our diseases in the modern world are preventable and are caused by a poor diet. From cardiac disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke, the injuries and diseases that lead to a patient ending up in a physical therapy clinic are likely preventable, if not reversible. 

But how does a PT measure diet as a vital sign? Many PTs...

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My State Bans PTs from Providing Nutrition


My State Bans PTs from Providing Nutrition. What Do I Do?

 By Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS, CNPT® , NSCA-CPT, Cert-DN


So you’ve looked into several online courses for nutrition in the hopes of helping your patient get better, faster. As you are scouring these online classes you stumble across the fact that you, as a physical therapist (PT), cannot provide nutrition in your state. Seriously? Is this true? Maybe. So, should you simply drop the idea of enrolling into a certification course on nutrition -- absolutely not!

 It should be made very clear that any healthcare provider can offer nutritional information for general health. Whether you call yourself a nutritionist, CNPT® , or health coach, offering generalized health and wellness nutrition information is permitted for almost every state. Such a rationale makes perfect sense: we need people in our country eating better food for better health. The legal issue really comes when you...

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