Worcester Business Journal
Worker Wellness Competitiveness Profitability
by Carol Tschirpke, RPT
Executives, managers, supervisors, and workers as well as union leaders generally agree that employee wellness proves pivotal to competitiveness, productivity, and profitability.
Often grudgingly accepted as a cost of doing business, especially in manufacturing, absenteeism, transitional duty assignments, short- and long-term disability and, certainly, events known as OSHA Recordables impede progress on company timetables and overall growth.
Employee morale often suffers when people are literally limping around.
But those seemingly endless drains on dollars can be reduced, even dramatically so.
Environmental, Health & Safety professionals understand the interrelationships, in plants and offices, which produce more high quality work in less time as well as savings, and which, in turn, make alert companies even more competitive and profitable.
Always obviously desirable in its own right, a consistently high level of worker wellness can support a company’s marketplace promises, which, especially in the current demanding economy, can also position a company for swifter progress when customers begin to place more and larger orders.
As a business decision-maker, you certainly will want to examine several factors when you analyze the value of a worker wellness program.
A comprehensive worker wellness program goes far beyond leaving stacks of a flyer in a break room, and is more than a once-in-a-while seminar. It only barely begins with a nod toward merely avoiding physical problems in the workplace. And don’t forget that an employee’s off-hours injuries produce on-the-job problems.
The very most superior formal employee wellness programs succeed by successfully becoming unnecessary as their strong educational component drives sound workplace practices into the bedrock of operations. Worker wellness eventually develops into standard operating procedure.
A strong underpinning of corporate-wide continuous improvement is a healthy, productive and value-added workforce. That kind of progress requires proof, certainly including long-term cost reductions.
Those reductions, viewed as opportunities in a wellness program, include job hazard analysis; cross training in jobs; identification and correction of painful symptoms in workers; ergonomics for workstation evaluation, posture, body mechanics, stretching and strengthening programs as well as home exercise programs; and, where appropriate, recommendations for medical intervention. The very finest worker wellness programs perform all of those activities right on the job, around the clock, if necessary.
Then there are a tiny number of wellness programs that doggedly develop and deliver definitive documentation detailing cost control and resulting increases in productivity stemming from stepped-up worker wellness.
Even among those few wellness programs are a handful of specialists who provide employer administrative assistance by accelerating the bureaucratic handling of employee conditions and their paperwork.
The outcomes? Process-wide ergonomic efficiencies, behavioral-based and cooperative culture changes, company progress toward continuous improvement and Lean Manufacturing milestones, and employer-employee enthusiastic voluntary involvement in the hard science root-cause fundamentals of the superb wellness programs.
Elite wellness programs are proactive, promote early detection of issues rather than late reporting of claims, encourage a zero accident mentality, further the Job Coaching concept, and advance employers to the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program Status for Excellence in Health & Safety.
More productivity and lower costs, resulting in less down time and a healthier workforce—all documented—summarize the value of the top most business-sensitive wellness programs.
Carol Tschirpke, RPT, is the Managing Partner of Quality Physical Therapy/BioSynchronistics®, a 27-year-old multi-clinic practiced, based in Sturbridge.
Reprinted with permission.
The Sturbridge Times Magazine, May 2008 – BioSynchronistics
Having said good-bye at last to the frigid temperatures and inclement weather of winter, many take advantage of the longer, sunnier days to spend outdoors. We lace up our running shoes or slip on a helmet to go for a leisurely bike ride. Yet if one gets too enthusiastic in his athletic pursuits, he can sustain an injury that will take him out of the running for the rest of the season. That’s where BioSynchronistics steps in.
According to Cheryl Wilbur, who developed the BioSynchronistics approach, our bodies remember everything significant that they have experienced, whether they be whiplash sustained from car accidents to childhood sports injuries, from childbirth to falls on frozen ice. Repetitive stress from endless hours angling one’s head to the phone, years of carrying heavy bags on the same shoulder, or improper posture at the computer all put wear and tear on the body. All of these forces cause body misalignment and disrupt its natural biomechanical equilibrium.
BioSynchronistics systematically corrects this misalignment, restoring the body to its proper balance.
BioSynchronistics is a gentle, hands-on therapy drawing from traditional physical therapy techniques and the holistic approach based on a belief that the body has an inherent ability to heal itself. “It takes advantage of posture and gravity to treat patients,” says Carol Tschirpke, a physical therapist and co-founder of BioSynchronistics/Quality Physical Therapy. She and Cheryl Wilbur have operated Quality Physical Therapy in Sturbridge since 1987. At the time, it was the only manual therapy practice center in the area.
Cheryl Wilbur developed the BioSynchronistics approach after sustaining an injury in 1994. She searched the country for treatment and eventually, she combined for herself what she had learned over the years and developed her unique treatment. She and Tschirpke began treating patients at Quality Physical Therapy with BioSynchronistics. Since then, it has become nationally known, drawing patients from as far away as Alaska. “More than half of our patients come from more than 45 minutes away for therapy,” says Tschirpke.
First, patients are given a full evaluation, which takes a look at the entire body. They are then given a session of 40 minutes in duration, during which they will alternate between sitting or standing to account for gravity. A therapist might employ a variety of techniques including cranio-sacral, myofascial release, or strain-counterstrain. “BioSynchronistics serves as a bridge to manual therapy really well,” explains Tschirpke. “Like an architectural design, it’s a way to organize and sequence manual therapy techniques to get better faster.”
Claudia White of Sturbridge has been receiving BioSynchronistics treatment for the last 16 years. She was so pleased with the treatment she received for a torn ligament in her thumb that she began sending her family to Quality Physical Therapy when conventional medical care would fail with injuries and ailments. Claudia discusses “works the body as a whole instead of just treating the area that’s hurting,” says Claudia. “Plus, it can be so gentle, if you are really hurting, you would never know you’re having treatment.”
Claudia’s son, Ryan, was 13 when she brought him into Quality Physical Therapy complaining of ankle pain and limping. Doctors had tested him but a bone scan found nothing. At Quality, they discovered that scar tissue formed after groin surgery at 15 months old was the source of his discomfort.
“The tissue was pulling his pelvis, rotating his leg in. We’re convinced that if they hadn’t found this, he would have a lift in his shoe, have pain in his hip and knee, and he probably wouldn’t be playing sports,” says Claudia.
A patient typically knows within three to four visits whether BioSynchronistics is working for them. After two visits of BioSynchronistics treatment, Ryan’s ankle pain was gone. Continued visits treated the underlying scar tissue and the misalignment caused by having his body pulled in the wrong direction since he was little. Now, he’s a senior playing basketball for the Tantasqua Orioles.
“We tend to treat people who are in the cracks,” says Tschirpke. “They might have back problems but have negative MRIs, and no disc problems or arthritis.”
BioSynchronistics can be used on patients from infancy through old age. The clinic offers an exercise program to decompress the spine through Chinese exercise called qigong. Women’s health issues are addressed with regard to puberty, maternity, menopause, and surgical procedures. The center also has an early intervention program working with children providing services for those with a variety of developmental disabilities.
News Center 5 – Staying Pain Free While Sitting
This report from WCVB-TV Channel 5 Medical Reporter Heather Kahn aired July 29, 1999:
If you’ve ever had back pain when sitting on the bleachers at a soccer game or on a wooden park bench, today’s HealthBeat is for you.
A new procedure being done out in the Worcester area is sitting well with a number of patients who have gone from pain to pain-free in just a few minutes.
You squirm, you wiggle, and still you can’t get comfortable in that uncomfortable seat.
They basically blame the surface they’re sitting on, they don’t have any clue that it’s their own bodies that are doing it.
PT/Quality Physical TherapySM
Physical therapist Carol Tschirpke says much of the time the soreness of sitting is caused by a poor alignment of the bones just south of the spine, the seat bones.
When a person falls or has an impact, these bones either move back or inward and it causes the person to sit real asymmetrically.
And it’s that imbalance that can cause muscles along the back and shoulders to become stiff.
That’s what happened to 38-year-old Janet Lombard. A riding instructor, she and her horse both took a fall two years ago and the sport she loved became difficult.
When you’re sitting in a saddle, you have to be able to move with the horse and I was limited in my capability to do this, so I experienced more and more discomfort as we went along.
-Janet Lombard/Riding Instructor
But then an orthopedic surgeon recommended a unique procedure developed by Carol and her partner: It’s a 5-minute, hands-on approach to realigning the seat bones.
We use the long leg muscles to line up the pelvis and balance the bones you sit on. And it’s something that stays.
Carol has already done the technique on hundreds of patients from equestrians, to cyclists, to those in martial arts.
Janet is back in the saddle again, with no pain and better performance.
The seat bones are very important in riding, the horse feels them on his back and they’re telling him what to do. It made a major difference.
This procedure costs about $200, which includes a full evaluation. It is considered alternative physical therapy, which means it hasn’t been studied and there are no guarantees that it works on everyone.
Good Therapy Adds Bounce to Your Rebound
By JANE E. BRODY
Physical therapists, along with occupational therapists and visiting nurses, are the unsung heroes for millions of people trying to preserve or restore their mobility and maximize their ability to function.
As the demand for physical therapy grows, the supply of qualified personnel is not keeping up, mainly because health insurers keep cutting back on reimbursements for their services, making it less and less profitable to pursue as a career.
As someone who has just spent over four months in physical therapy after surgery to replace my worn-out knees, I can attest to the value of these services for a vast array of clients, from babies with birth defects to the elderly trying to stay active.
I have also learned a lot about how to judge the quality of physical therapy. As one reader, Tina Mosetis of Great Neck, N.Y., noted, “Most therapists do not spend enough time analyzing what is wrong with the patient, and after the initial session they simply direct the patient to do exercises on the gym equipment.”
The reader’s mother, Hope Mosetis, who has osteoporosis and arthritis, tried six different rehabilitation centers before she found a therapist who treated the whole person, using hands-on therapy and techniques like deep tissue massage and Pilates, as well as tailored exercises to make her joints more flexible, relieve her pain and increase her mobility.
What Therapists Can Do
The American Physical Therapy Association says, “Physical therapists are experts in the examination and treatment of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular problems that affect people’s abilities to move the way they want and function as well as they want in their daily lives.”
Physical therapists work with people who have sustained injuries to muscles, nerves or joints, suffered strokes or heart attacks, or undergone neuromuscular or joint surgery. They also help people prevent injury and loss of mobility.
Among people commonly treated are those with low back and neck pain, knee and hip replacements, problems with balance, mobility-limiting arthritis, sprains, muscle strains, hip fractures, pregnancy and postnatal movement problems, and chronic respiratory problems.
Therapists can help cardiac and stroke patients regain stamina and mobility and help maximize the functioning of patients with diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
A properly trained therapist has, in addition to a college degree, a master’s degree (and sometimes a clinical doctorate) in physical therapy. Therapists must pass a national examination and be licensed by the state. Some receive additional training in specialties, like hand, sports or pediatric physical therapy.
For example, a hand specialist might be especially helpful to people with carpal tunnel syndrome, a sports specialist to a golfer with back problems, and a pediatric specialist to children with cerebral palsy.
Many people with injuries like badly sprained ankles or shoulder pain from too much swimming think it is best to tough it out. Too often, however, they suffer residual disabilities that are then much harder to treat. Getting physical therapy early on can result in faster recovery and prevent more costly treatment later.
For example, patients who delay physical therapy after knee replacement may never gain full extension and as much flexion of the joint as the prosthesis will allow. As a result, they may limp or have lasting difficulty descending stairs.
Patients who are not able to travel to physical therapy can often obtain services at home from therapists who make house calls.
Cost should not be an obstacle. Medicare and Medicaid cover needed physical therapy, federally qualified health maintenance organizations are required to offer physical therapy, and nearly all health insurers cover some physical therapy. But check with your insurer since pre-certification is sometimes required.
While most states do not require a physician’s referral, New York and Connecticut do, as do Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Sorting Through the Policy
Your policy will define who is eligible for the therapy and the amount of care that is covered. Some policies limit sessions by the year, others by the condition being treated and still others by a strange designation called “per episode of care.” One young man’s ridiculous policy covers 30 sessions a year but only within a 30-day period.
Almost no one can arrange for outpatient physical therapy seven days a week for 30 days. It could even be harmful since muscles need a day of rest between strengthening sessions.
If you or your doctor believe you need more physical therapy than your policy will cover, you are entitled to appeal. Call the insurer’s member services department to find out how to file an appeal.
As with any profession, there are good physical therapy practices and not so good ones. Boris Gilzon, a physical therapist in Brooklyn, outlined important criteria patients should look for. First and foremost, the therapist must be licensed by the state and have a reputation among patients and local physicians for providing good service. For example, the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, which visited Mr. Gilzon’s center and watched how the therapists worked, lists it as a recommended center.
The space in which therapy is provided should be adequate and the therapist should use a variety of techniques, not just gym equipment but perhaps also yoga, electrical stimulation, heat and ultrasound.
The first visit should include an objective history and a look at the total person, not just an isolated body part that is the current complaint. The therapist should also discuss the patient’s goals. Therapists who take a narrow view can limit a person’s ability to achieve desired goals.
For example, after total knee replacements, my goal was not simply to be able to walk to the subway and go up and down stairs. It is to return to favorite activities my arthritic knees forced me to abandon, including tennis, ice skating, cross-country skiing, cycling, hiking and gardening.
While I may not be able to do all of these, I want several to be on my postoperative agenda, and that means I need to achieve more flexion and stronger supporting muscles than, say, a person whose only goal is to walk a few miles.
During prescribed exercises, both stretches and strengthening ones, the therapist should pay attention to details and observe the patient’s technique, since, as Mr. Gilzon said, “doing an exercise incorrectly doesn’t do any good.” Only after patients have mastered an exercise should they be left to do it on their own.
Consider as well how much time the therapist spends with the patient. The therapist should not be constantly hopping from one patient to another, giving each a minute at a time. The purpose of each exercise should be explained, as well as what you should feel while doing it so you can tell whether you’re doing it right when the therapist isn’t looking.
Finally, the therapist should give patients exercises to do on their own, between treatments and after therapy is completed. You don’t want to lose what you gained through all that hard work.
Jane E. Brody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article for Crossroads
Quality Physical Therapy – A Unique Approach to Therapy
by Clark Howell, Howell Marketing
Jan/Feb 2009 in The Chamber at the Crossroads of New England
As often happens, good things spring from adversity. In 1984 , Cheryl Wilbur (co-founder of Quality Physical Therapy) sustained an injury that did not respond to, what was at the time, accepted means of physical therapy. Thus began the search, along with fellow co-founder Carol Tschirpke, to find the solution to the actual problem that lay behind the pain and discomfort stemming from Cheryl’s injury. Rather than finding a solution among existing treatment therapies, they instead developed their own treatment method and named it BioSynchronistics®.
As the clinic’s website explains, BioSynchronistics draws on traditional physical therapy techniques, and is enhanced with a holistic approach based on both the force of gravity and the body’s inherent ability to heal itself.” Therapy is applied using gentle hands-on pressure in a scientifically coordinated way. With time, this method can bring about a more balanced body with the result being less pain and discomfort in specific areas of distress.
Rather than concentrate on joints, as a Chiropractor might do, practitioners of BioSynchronistics draw on traditional physical therapy techniques, but primarily manipulate the “fascia” that permeates the human body. Fascia interpenetrates and surrounds muscles, bones, organs, nerves, blood vessels and other structures in the body. Among other functions, it is responsible for maintaining structural integrity; for providing support and protection; and acts as a shock absorber of sorts. It also allows our skin to slide off our muscles. Therefore, it is the one of the major tissue systems in our body that helps to keep us in overall balance. And if you’re out of balance, this can often lead to the body over-compensating in certain areas and eventually lead to pain.
Another area of clinical interest is the idea that our bodies “remember” everything of significance that it has ever gone through. Therefore, childhood injuries such as whiplash or falls are ingrained on the muscles and fascia that hold us together. Further, adult activities like carrying heavy bags on one shoulder or another, or hours of angling one’s head to hold the phone will also put a great deal of wear and tear on the body. As a recent article stated, “All of these forces cause body misalignment and disrupt its natural biochemical equilibrium.”
Finally, exercise is a major part of a Quality Physical Therapy patient’s recovery. Using what are called “pathways” a patient is encouraged to move in such a way as to strengthen, and at the same time, increase the flexibility and mobility that most of us used to have as children – something that is often eroded with time and/or injury. These pathways begin as basic movements and progress to more involved and beneficial exercise routines. Along with this approach, the Center for Human Performance, which is a division of Quality Physical Therapy, Inc., is also available to patients looking for specific exercise routines related to increasing physical performance. Joseph Magdis, B.A., CSCS, has tested, trained and advised in follow up, and coached hundreds of clients (from obese youngsters to out-of-shape adults to elite athletes) for more than 20 years.
Recently, a pilot program at OFS in Sturbridge was instituted to offer onsite evaluations and treatments (using BioSynchronistics) as part of their “Early Symptom Intervention” program. The company has contracted with Quality Physical Therapy as a way of taking care of their employees before injuries occur.
Taken together, Quality Physical Therapy and BioSynchronistics appear to be winning converts all over the country. As Ms. Tschirpke explains, “We draw patients from as far away as California” and most of the “local” patients come from more than 45 minutes away for therapy. It seems that BioSynchronistics is something worth traveling for.