Work Injury: Hand Tendon Laceration – How Occupational Therapy Can Get You Back to Work Faster!

Working with glass or knives, operating machines, or working with various cutting equipment poses risks for accidental hand injuries. One common injury is the laceration of tendons involved in the hand. The hand is composed of flexor tendons which assist with grasping, picking up, and gripping items, as well as extensor tendons which assist in opening the hand to let items go or release grip. Symptoms of a tendon laceration can vary, but most commonly include pain with hand movements, swelling, loss of function of hand or fingers, numbness, and damage to other surrounding structures.

Most often this injury results in immediate surgery followed by therapy to regain functional movement of the hand. Initial therapy treatment will focus on pain control and tendon healing such as ice, heat, modalities, scar mobilization, and soft tissue mobilization. This will be followed by range of motion exercises to regain mobility of fingers and hand such as tendon glides, joint mobilization, finger stretches, and wrist stretches. Upon minimizing pain and increasing range of motion, therapy will then focus on regaining strength and fine motor dexterity in order to regain functional use of the hand.  Simulated work tasks will be incorporated to ensure appropriate range of motion, strength, and dexterity is regained in order to engage in daily work tasks. Therapy is an important part of the recovery process and can lead to faster recovery and return back to work.

If you have questions or concerns, or if you have recently had a work injury, call and schedule a free screening with Choice Therapy today at 218.444.8280!

Marlee Westrum – Occupational Therapist

Torn Rotator Cuff: Do I Need Surgery? Will Physical Therapy help?


My doctor said I might have a torn rotator cuff. Will I need surgery, or will physical therapy help?


Before determining if you will need surgery or not, your doctor will likely schedule an MRI to take an image of your shoulder to determine if there is a rotator cuff tear. If there is you may or may not need surgery. The answer will depend on how significant the tear is, where the tear is located, your age and lifestyle, along with other factors. Regardless of those factors, your doctor may recommend trying a more conservative route first such as physical or occupational therapy. Your therapist will help to decrease pain, restore motion, improve strength, and hopefully return to your previous level of function. You, your therapist and doctor will then determine if surgery would still be recommended.

If you have been questioning whether or not Physical or Occupational therapy may be right for you, schedule a free 15-minute screening with one of our expert therapists today by calling 218.444.8280! Your Life. Your Health. Your Choice!

Sarah Kuhn: Physical Therapy Assistant


Q&A W/ Your Therapist (Jake Kremer): Do I need surgery if I have arthritis?

Question: My x-ray or MRI shows arthritis; do I need surgery?

Answer: In short, no. Arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis is defined as degenerative changes to the joint surface, or cartilage, leading to irritation of the underlying bone. This is a normal and typical part of aging.  In fact, a human being starts to develop arthritis in their spine in their early 20’s. So, we all may have this to some extent. Meanwhile, studies will show that there is low correlation between findings on diagnostic imaging and pain levels. In fact, up to 70% of people with findings on their x-ray or MRI do not have associated pain (Bhattacharyya et al., 2003; Boden et al., 1990). Therefore, a finding of arthritis just confirms that you are over the age of 20. If you have pain in an area and have diagnostic imaging performed (X-ray, MRI, CT scan) your doctor is using this information to the best of his or her ability to determine a probable cause of pain. However, just like anything else, x-rays and MRI’s have limitations, they are only one snapshot in time. Contributing factors that will not be shown on the image include nerve sensitivities, joint and muscle tension/tightness, abnormal posture, and abnormal movement patterns. That is where a thorough exam from your physical therapist can help (and keep you away from having to get surgery). A finding of arthritis alone does not indicate that this is the definite cause of your pain, and certainly does not necessarily mean that you have to live in pain or need surgery.

If you have questions or concerns, call and schedule a free screening with Choice Therapy today at 218.444.8280! Your life. Your health. Your Choice!

Dr. Jake Kremer, PT, DPT, FIT, CSCS

Better Speech and Hearing Month: Finding Help for Communication Disorders

Did you know that according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), 69% say parents of young children are not aware of the early warning signs of speech/language disorders?

So, what can you do?… By addressing the symptoms of communication disorders early, treatment is often less expensive and takes less time (ASHA). The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has provided some helpful tips in identifying speech/language disorders and what parents can do to help. If you have questions or concerns, schedule an appointment at Choice Therapy with one of our expert Speech-Language Pathologists at 218.444.8280!

Identify the Signs (Click the images to expand)



Meet our Speech-Language Pathologists:

Amber Nickerson

Erin Wark May

Kirsten Landmark

Choice Therapy – Speech Therapy Services:

  • Articulation and Phonological Disorders
  • Fluency disorders
  • Swallowing and feeding disorders
  • Oral motor skills
  • Language disorders
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Auditory processing disorder
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
  • Social Skills
  • Apraxia

Choice Therapy – Adult Speech Services:

  • TBI
  • Stroke
  • Dyshagia
  • Cognition

Choice Therapy Approach:

  • Offer Speech Therapy for pediatrics and adults
  • Vast knowledge of communication disorders from birth to geriatrics
  • Flexible scheduling/working longer hours to accommodate family’s busy schedules
  • Family education built into every session to allow your loved one to continue working on skills at home and making progress towards goals
  • Extensive knowledge with academic based goals and ability to effectively target those in therapy to increase their academic skills

Help Fight off Illness with Exercise

Exercise’s Impact on Aging

Exercise plays an important role in how we feel, how we move, and how we age. Exercise among the middle-aged and older adults tends to decrease the older we get. It is believed that only 10% of adults over the age of 65 exercise regularly. This tells us that what we have come to know about aging is from the experience of 90% of the population who do not get regular exercise.

Image result for elderly exercising

Newer studies have aimed to look at exercise’s impact on our muscles and immune system as we age. They compared a group of 55 to 79 year old males and females who remained physically active (mostly through cycling) to a group of sedentary adults. When the scientists measured the physical and cognitive abilities of those who exercised regularly they were found to have improved reflexes, memory, balance, and metabolic profiles compared to the sedentary group. Muscle biopsies taken from the legs of the exercise group showed those who exercised regularly were more likely to retain their muscle size, fiber composition, and other markers of good health over time. These studies also showed the exercise group had an increased number of cells used to fight off illnesses (T cells) compared to the sedentary group.

A helpful tip as you age is to choose to move; this can be through activities such as walking, running, biking, stretching, yoga, lifting weights, or any type of physical activity you find beneficial for your body and mind. You will likely notice a benefit in the present as well the future.

To schedule a free screening with one of our expert therapists in Bemidji, call 218-444-8280! See below for a list of all of our clinics!

  • Bagley & Gonvick: 218-694-3030
  • Bemidji: 218-444-8280
  • Blackduck: 218-835-3425
  • Crookston: 218-470-0132
  • Kelliher: 218-647-9569

Brady Miller – Doctor of Physical Therapy

Q&A w/ Your Therapist: What exactly is chronic pain? Kaisa Syväoja will help answer all of your questions about chronic pain!

You hear people talking about chronic pain but you might be asking yourself…so what is chronic pain exactly? Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Kaisa Syväoja at Choice Therapy will dive into the differences between acute pain versus chronic pain and she provides a few simple tips to help improve your chronic pain!

Question: What is Acute Pain versus Chronic Pain?


Acute Pain: Normal pain response –

        • Inflammation
        • Restricted and/or guarded movements
        • Sensitivities to touch around involved structure

Chronic Pain: Pain that continues after structure has “healed” –

        • Pain that lasts more than 3-6 months
        • Generalized pain (no longer able to directly identify pain location)
        • Pain that persists following a decrease in Inflammation
        • Guarding may continue despite structure healing
        • Sensitivities to light, sound or touch may also become common (Hypersensitivities)

Question: What causes those hypersensitivities and how can I reduce my chronic pain?


Think about chronic pain like your body’s alarm system that is never able to shut off. Before you had pain, it only went off when there was a real problem or danger to your life. Now, it will go off any time that something moves. This can be really frustrating when you are trying to live your daily life. It can begin to make you feel like you don’t have control over your body. Chronic pain is often times invisible making explaining it to others difficult. Chronic pain can be impacted by stress levels, diet, lack of movement, emotions, and the environment. However, many of these are areas that you can change! Some simple ways to start reducing your chronic pain include; setting goals to get a good night’s sleep, eat a balanced diet, and begin light, low-impact cardiovascular exercise. Chronic pain does not mean that you will have it forever. With a good healthcare team that knows you, you can take control of your pain and begin to live your life!

Kaisa Syväoja – Doctor of Occupational Therapy

Cabin Fever? Ways to keep your kids active INSIDE during the not so good weather!

Winters in Minnesota can be long and the springtime can bring unexpected weather where the children cannot go outside to play (rain, snow and everything in between). Here are some helpful tips/ideas for fun stimulating indoor activities for your active little ones.

Gross Motor

Gross motor activities are large, big movement activities that tire kids out quickly. Gross motor activities are good for core stability/strength to attend to seated activities. It is great for motor planning and coordination. Here are some creative ways to engage in gross motor activities while inside.

  • Animal walks: Bear crawl, crab, alligator, frog, inch worm, and donkey kicks.
  • Obstacle course: Set up various stations around the house that child has to crawl over/around or go through. Make it extra fun with imaginary play (for example: Don’t touch the hot Lava!)
  • Winter Olympics: With it being the year of the winter Olympics create various stations pretending to be an Olympic athlete. For example put on fuzzy socks and slide around the kitchen floor, pretending to be an Olympic skater or hockey player.
  • Kid Yoga: There are endless amounts of kid yoga videos and resources online. They are an excellent way to work on listening skills while engaging in various movements. This activity can also help with body awareness.
  • Beat the Clock: This is a fun imaginary play game that helps Mom/Dad/caregiver with everyday chores. Have child engage in various chores around the house such as carry a laundry basket to one room to another, set an appropriate amount of time on a timer and see if the child can complete the task, under the given time.
  • Dance Party: This is a fun activity for kids that love music. Play a kid friendly song and dance! For added fun, grab some pots/pans for percussion!

Fine Motor

Fine Motor is small movements with our hands. Fine motor movements are important for many things such as zipping up a coat, writing and picking up small objects. Here are some fun ideas to promote fine motor skills at home!

  • Ice cube painting: Put food coloring or paint in ice cube tray, once it starts to freeze place Popsicle stick into them. Grab a large piece of paper and paint away!
  • Snow coloring: This is a fun way to bring the winter inside! In a cooking sheet place a few handfuls of snow. In multiple spray bottles place water with food coloring. Have the child spray the snow with various colors. This is an excellent activity to promote hand strength!
  • Stringing: This is a fun and yummy activity! Using yarn, pipe cleaner, string or whatever is lying around the house. Have the child string cheerios onto to make a cereal necklace. This activity can be substituted for many different foods!
  • Lacing: Using any cardboard lying around the house, cut out a shape and punch small hole around the shape to make a homemade lacing board. The child can decorate or color it to make it more colorful. Using yarn or string has the child lace around the board.

Sensory Play

Sensory play is fun for all kids! Some kids may shy away from certain textures while others love it and that is okay! Here are some fun ways to expose your child to a variety of textures.

  • Edible play dough: There are tons of recipes online that you can tailor to your child’s likes. This is a really fun activity to incorporate different food and play.
  • Oobleck: This is an easy activity that one can use with easy household items. It is easy as 1 cup corn starch and ½ cup water.
  • Sensory gel pad: This is a great color sorting activity, by placing color button and clear hair gel in a Ziploc bag. Tape the top shut with duct tape. Using colored sharpies draw large circles on the front. The child can then push the color buttons through the gel into the colored circles.
  • Shaving cream: Fun and messy! You can have the child practice fine motor skills with writing letter and number.
  • Wash Dishes/trucks/Barbies: Have the child help with washing dishes or set them up with their own station to clean their toys.

Chelsea Wiegand – Occupational Therapy Assistant

Get back to your daily life after a shoulder injury with Occupational Therapy

Have you been experiencing pain after a recent shoulder injury? Occupational therapy can assist in recovery from a shoulder injury and get you back to your everyday life.

On your initial appointment, we will assess your range of motion, strength, and functional movement patterns to determine the type of injury you sustained. Most often shoulder injuries stem from strains, overuse, or trauma and can involve various tendons, ligaments, or muscle groups. We can help determine the specific structures involved and provide you with a personalized program to get you back to using your arm in daily activities. We will use various forms of pain management techniques, stretches, strengthening exercises, and simulated daily tasks to get your back to full functioning. Since the shoulder is the most complex and utilized body part we have, we emphasis proper body mechanics and posture in order to increase the use of your arm but also more importantly decrease the likelihood of future injury. Schedule a free screening with Choice Therapy today and your therapist will help you determine the appropriate program for you!

Marlee Westrum – Occupational Therapist

Dry-Needling Offers Relief From Low Back Pain

Have you recently started experiencing lower back pain and have tried stretching and different exercises at the gym, but it has not seemed to help at all? There may be alternative treatment options that can be performed by a physical therapist that can help.

There are a variety of treatment options available in physical therapy that may be appropriate for relieving your lower back pain. One treatment option that may help is dry needling, which can be used to help treat lower back pain as well as various other ailments throughout the body. The American Physical Therapy Association defines dry needling as a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments. The target areas for dry needling are trigger points, which are hyper-irritable taut bands of skeletal muscle located throughout the body. These areas can be painful to the touch and potentially cause pain referral to other parts of the body. Dry needling can be performed with the goal of decreasing myofascial pain / tension, improving range of motion, increasing blood flow, and restoring function. Schedule an appointment with Choice Therapy today and your therapist will help you determine if dry needling is an appropriate treatment option for you!

Brady Miller – Physical Therapist

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