Thursday, October 8
Friday, September 18
Many different superficial heat modalities are used throughout the therapeutic setting. The most common modalities found in the clinic are hydrotherapy, paraffin wax bath, electric heating pads, fluidotherapy, and hydrocollator packs.
The hydrocollator pack is a form of so-called moist heat that can be found in almost any physical therapy and sports medicine facility. The term “moist heat” was coined because the modality uses a wet heat source. Although the hydrocollator has been the standard for many years, there are inherent weaknesses and limitations of this modality. In fact, there are no proven results that indicate that moist heat works any better than dry heat.
Some of the limitations include its large size and weight, a warming-up period of four to eight hours, and cumbersome and restrictive pads. The complications from this form of heat therapy include pain, skin rash, and burns. Currently, burns associated with heat therapy are the leading complaint in the physical therapy profession. Therapy Innovations, a Bend, Ore.-based company that creates physical therapy products, has introduced a new heat modality that will change the way practitioners use superficial heat and quite possibly save institutions thousands of dollars.
Smart Heat System
The new “Smart Heat System” by Therapy Innovations was designed with consideration of the limitations and complications of current modalities. The next generation of superficial heat modalities integrates new technology that allows the practitioner to control the heat therapy applied to their patients. Our Web site explains, “No more guessing, no more towel layering, just true heat at a temperature you decide.”
The system consists of three parts: the heating unit, the therapy heat pack, and the pack cover. The system is designed to work with all three components to provide the most effective superficial heat therapy.
The Smart Heat heating unit utilizes thin-film Q-Foil® technology to heat up each hot pack to the desired therapeutic temperature. The unit is equipped with temperature sensing technology and custom built controllers enabling the unit to heat any given pack to a set temperature. The unit has capability for four therapy pads at any time and three different temperature settings.
Some of the most common complications that arise from thermotherapy modalities include pain, skin rash, and burns. Due to the nature of the human body and physiology, each person reacts to and perceives heat therapy differently. For this reason, three different temperature settings have been developed.
Our highest (Vigorous) setting is designed to achieve 110°F of skin temperature without the need for protective layering. However, this may not be suitable for all patients. Two other settings (Medium and Soothing) have been developed to accommodate the variations and needs of different patients. Never before has the practitioner been able to select an exact temperature for their desired needs.
The temperature control system is equipped with LED indicator lights that tell the practitioner when the therapy pad has reached the selected temperature. This ensures the pad is at the desired therapeutic setting and safe for the therapist to apply. The temperature control eliminates the need for practitioners to use extra towels to buffer the heat from packs that may be too hot and reduces the amount of laundry often found in busy clinics
One of the many advantages of the Smart Heat System is the time required to reach the desired temperature. With the temperature control system, the Smart Heat therapy pads can reach therapeutic temperatures in less than 25 minutes and reheat pads after use in less than 10. The fast heat-up times eliminate the need to run the unit 24 hours a day or over weekends when many clinics may be closed.
The thermal properties of the pads and the insulation of the unit allow the therapy pads to sit at therapeutic temperatures inside the charging unit while drawing very little energy. Tests have proven the Smart Heat System to far exceed the Energy Star conservation standards for appliances.
“The Smart Heat system is ideal for my high school athletic training setting. The quick heat time allows me to transition easily from being a classroom teacher to an effective athletic trainer,” says Ray Stadt, ATC, at
The hot pack used for this system has been designed to exploit the most efficient means of heat-up time, temperature saturation, and heat retention. The pack consists of a two-part medical grade polyurethane gel material, thermal additives, and a thin-film flexible heater.
The thermal additives increase the thermal conductivity of the material as well as increase the heat retention of the polyurethane gel, providing a more even distribution of heat as well as lasting therapeutic temperatures. Using the highest setting, the therapy pads will provide up to 30 minutes of therapeutic heat.
Thermal image of right quadriceps after 7 min. of therapy.
Flexible and Low Maintenance
The result is an extremely flexible and conforming pad that molds to the body, providing greater contact and increased thermal transfer. With four different therapy pads to choose from, Therapy Innovations has made it easier to apply heat to complex joints such as the shoulder and ankle.
“I have finally found an alternative to using outdated hydrocollator packs in the office!” says Joseph Zappala, DC, director of Southwest Health and Fitness in
The Smart Heat Therapy packs are very soft and flexible, which makes them perfect for treating soreness and pain associated with arthritis. The therapy packs will easily conform to a variety of joints such as the hand and wrist, shoulders, and knees and ankles. It is now possible to treat such conditions with a safer medium or low level heat without the risk of tissue damage.
Late stage post-op rehabilitation can also benefit from this type of heat therapy because the effect of the neurological relaxation and soothing comfort of heat will not be contraindicated by increased swelling.
The Smart Heat System is a waterless modality that has very low maintenance and can be easily cleaned and disinfected. The polyurethane gel is solid and will not leak or ooze if the pack is cut or torn, eliminating any mess from old worn-out packs. The therapy packs are easier to handle than moist pads, and with the multiple settings, practitioners can safely lay their patients on the therapy pads. In contrast, it is not recommended that the patient place direct body weight on moist heat packs.
The ability to select a lower temperature therapy pack allows the patient to find the most comfortable position – often the supine position – while receiving heat therapy.
With the aging baby boomer population, the need for such a controllable heat modality may not have come at a better time. People have become more active in their later years than generations before and have a desire to maintain a level of independence and activity. As this population gets older, the need for care and appropriate technology will also rise. The Smart Heat System will allow the treatment of the elderly and aging to be safer and more patient appropriate.
Wednesday, August 12
As you all know surfing can be a demanding sport. The conditions are always changing and the terrain if you will, constantly moving. The dynamic actions surfing requires as well as the plain old exertion from paddling can put a lot of strain on ones back. One of the most common complaints in sports medicine as well as surfing is “my back hurts”.
As we get a little older and more consumed with adult life, we find ourselves in the water less and at a desk more. Some of us anyways. And unless your one of the lucky few that surf everyday, then you know what I’m talking about. So what do I do when I hurt my back and all I want to do is go surf, or mow the lawn? I hear this question all the time and the answer obviously differs with each situation/ injury. So I would like to outline a simple and easy guide to back pain recovery in this short but helpful article Back Pain and the road to recovery.
*Disclaimer, this article is just some advice for the generic questions of back pain. If you injure your back or neck in any way, please go see a doctor or your local physical therapist for a proper evaluation, treatment, and program specific to your needs.*
ICE or HEAT?
First and foremost let’s start with a little pain relief. With out going to the medicine cabinet you can gain quite a bit of relief from thermal modalities alone. The debate over ice or heat when injured has been going on for longer than I’ve been alive; however I like to recommend a simple answer to most injuries.
Ice for the first 72 hours.
I know a lot of people like the heat for the back, hey it feels good. But when it comes to new injuries or re-aggravations of old injuries Ice will help dull the pain and reduce any swelling that may occur. Even though you may get a little stiffer in the muscles the joints will thank you for it later.
Ice for 20 min at a time and off for an hour. This is an easy interval and quite effective without over icing and burning the skin.
After 72 hours you can if you choose, switch to heat. This will increase blood flow and relax the muscle spasms as well as introduce fresh nutrients into the injury site. Not to mention heat feels nice and loosens up those stiff muscles. Same principals apply to heat, as they do for Ice.
Heat for 20 min at a time and off for an hour. Be very careful when using microwave heat packs as they can easily get too hot and cause burns. If the skin is very splotchy and white after heat, you may have caused tissue damage and should avoid further heat for a day or two. For the best and safest heat therapy pads on the market you can contact us at Therapy Innovations and get one of our Portable Smart Heat pads. (Shameless plug).
This is an important component to the healing process because you need to give your body time to heal. Now rest does not mean doing nothing! Often people with back injuries or back pain will opt out of any movement at all. I understand, and have been there when your back locks up and everything hurts, but doing nothing will prolong the injury cycle and slow down your progress to get back in the water. Rest in my opinion actually means rehab not surfing, bungee jumping, helping a friend move, or any other pesky house chores you don’t like doing. Rest and Rehab.
Core exercises, light stretching and easy movement are very important right from the get go. After you’ve taken your day on the couch and realize one day of doing nothing didn’t miraculously heal you, its on to a little light rehab. Below are some easy stretches and exercises that will help get the muscles moving and begin strengthening up the core. Keep in mind these are the most basic and safest exercises for the early stages of injury recovery. Light movement should include easy exercise like walking, using an elliptical machine, or light swimming depending on the level of injury. Using light exercise will get the blood flowing and warm up the body to better facilitate the stretching and core exercises. Stretching cold is much less effective than stretching warmed-up.
Remember to breath and relax into each stretch to get the most out of your exercise.
Take it slow and do what you can pain free for the first week or so of rehab. We have all heard the old adage no pain, no gain. Well we had a little saying in the training room at UCI that went no pain, good. During the healing stages of injury recovery try to do your stretches and exercises just to the point of discomfort, don’t over do it. Pushing yourself hard here will just make the injury last longer.
I believe this is one of the most overlooked and underappreciated aspects to reducing pack pain. Your mom told you to sit up, stop slouching, and stand up strait! But did we listen, no and where did that get us? On the couch with a back spasm and no surf! As a society our posture is terrible, mine is terrible and I’m sure yours is too. And I’m sure your saying I know I know, tell me something I don’t know. Well I got nothing here other than listen to your mom and sit up straight! There aren’t enough reminders in a day to get you to practice good posture.
Practicing good posture not only lines up the spine to a more natural position it also strengthens the core muscles. If you have terrible posture, try sitting up straight and pulling your shoulders back for about 10 min and see how tired your back gets. This is proof positive that you should work on strengthening those muscles. Keeping the spine in good alignment will take stress off of the joints and release chronic tension in areas that may always seam sore.
Getting the spine in good alignment can reduce an amazing amount of back pain and discomfort. We don’t always have to go to the chiropractor for this either. In fact if you don’t practice good posture, strengthening, and flexibility no amount of chiropractic visits will cure your back.
Thursday, July 16
As the companies president I find little time to practice Athletic Training, although I am still certified. I wanted to create this site to continue to do what I love most, talk shop (injuries and rehab). My goal for this site is to share our knowledge of sports medicine and health with the weekend warriors as well as the actively obsessed. I would like to post articles discussing injury prevention and rehab issues that we all commonly face, as well as an Q and A section.
We are looking forward to the possibilities and opportunities this site can create!