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Monday, Jan. 24, 2022

Function First

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Red Cord Therapy may be the pain relief you’ve been looking for

Everyone tries to talk about changing the game, doing something different. More often than not, it’s just the same old, same old. It’s just status quo.” Donald Allison, Physical Therapy Innovation is a process constantly in search of a better mousetrap. It is present in virtually all aspects of our lives. The area of physical therapy and rehabilitation is no different.

One area of innovation in physical therapy was developed in Norway. It’s called Red Cord and uses a method called Neurac, an acronym for neuromuscular activation. Neurac can be an effective treatment for injury recovery and neurological conditions when combined with suspension. That’s where the Red Cord comes in. A patient is suspended in the Red Cord apparatus to allow the therapist to activate and strengthen the body’s muscles. That’s accomplished by eliminating the physical compensations, or favoring, we do to minimize pain when walking, running, or everyday activities. In other words, the system takes the pressure off the body so the healing can start.

“I tell patients, you come in and I can tell your back’s hurting without your even telling me,” Function First’s Allison said. “The reason is because you are moving in a painful movement pattern.” He said the way the patient carries him- or herself is an indicator of the intensity of the pain they are experiencing. Allison said that the Red Cord system enables the Function First partners to put a patient in positions that would be difficult or impossible to attain or maintain without the support. It makes it possible to use the body’s own weight in exercising the patient. Manipulation of the slings also stimulates muscle activation to rehabilitate and strengthen the key stabilizing muscles that keep the body properly aligned. The mechanical application of the slings and bungee cords allows therapists to vary the exercise’s resistance to help build strength.

“With Red Cord you are literally able to progress and regress any exercise as little or as much as possible,” according to Allison. “You can put in enough bungee support so that they are basically independent. Or you can make it so hard that a power-lifter would be dripping in sweat.”

Red Cord can be used to treat a variety of issues: chronic pain; low back pain; neck, shoulder or hip pain; and neurological injuries. It can also be a therapeutic treatment for post-joint replacement patients, motor vehicle accident victims and whiplash sufferers.

Allison said they take a total body approach toward alleviating a patient’s pain. “The approach that we take, we’re looking more globally.” He noted pain in one part of the body might not actually originate there. “The back isn’t just the back. A lot of times, we’re looking at the hips, we’re looking at the legs, we’re looking at the thoracic spine. There are other things to be had. Same with the knees. Things like that.”

The Neurac treatment approach consists of four main elements:

• Suspension exercise

• Controlled vibration and perturbation of targeted body parts

• Specific and gradual exercise progression

• Stressing a pain-free approach

According to the Red Cord website, “The aim of the Neurac method is to restore pain-free movement patterns and improve function. Neurac treatment challenges the interplay between muscles and focuses on what is causing the problem – not only on the symptoms.”

But pain is a tough problem to solve, Allison admits. “You might have a patient come in with nine out of 10 pain, and there’s a possibility he could leave with zero in one or two visits. That happens a lot. How long does it stay away? That’s a bigger question. That’s why more visits might be needed. Sometimes it still requires surgery even though we can help them. Does it work 100 percent of the time? No. Does anything? No. But do we feel like we give our patients a fighting chance? Yes.”

According to Allison, the treatment may be unusual, but it costs about the same as traditional physical therapy. You don’t need a referral to come to Function First. Most insurance plans cover the treatment, though some require consultation with a primary care physician. If you have questions about cost and insurance coverage, Allison said the easiest thing to do is call the clinic, and they will check on your plan.

MORE INFORMATION:

https://www.facebook.com/functionfirstla, or call (318) 828-1450.

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