Learn More About: Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

Linda M. Riek, PT, DPT, PhD

What is the role of the physical therapist?

Treat patients with multisystem involvement resulting from SCD

  • Integumentary - wound care
  • Cardiovascular/Cardiopulmonary - functional mobility & strengthening
  • Musculoskeletal - mobility
  • Neuromuscular Systems - posture, breathing and relaxation

General Exercise Guidelines:

  • Start exercising gradually
  • Perform mild-moderate endurance exercise, avoid intense exercise and stop exercising at the first signs of fatigue
  • Rest at least every 20 minutes
  • Drink water before, during, and after exercising
  • Avoid cold or heat stress
  • Avoid contact sports

Connes et al. Exercise Limitation, Exercise Testing, and Exercise Recommendations in Sickle Cell Anemia.

Examples of exercises that may be prescribed

  1. General endurance and light resistance exercises
  2. Breathing
    • Diaphragmatic breathing + pursed lip
    • Lateral costal breathing
    • Stacked breathing
    • Incentive spirometry
  3. Postural Exercises
    • Scapular Squeeze
    • Resisted scapular squeeze
    • Resisted scapular squeeze + breathing exercise

Note: Always consult with your local physical therapist or physician before performing any exercises.

Chronic Pain

  • Physical therapists, as part of an interdisciplinary team, can help you take an active role in your care
  • Not one approach will always work - may range from exercise to complementary therapies
  • Your team can help you learn coping skills and increase your level of function

Living Well with Sickle Cell Disease: Self-care toolkit

Because many health care providers are not familiar with Sickle Cell Disease, it is critical that patients take an active role in managing their own care. To make informed decisions, patients need to understand the disease and treatment options, and then make the best possible choices for their own care.

The tools provided in this toolkit will help patients to monitor their health care by keeping track of important information about their pain crisis patterns such as triggers, helpful nonpharmacological approaches, and effective medications.

The toolkit also helps patients communicate with the many health providers and services involved in their care.

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