Q & A with two of our physical therapists who are using Rehabilitative Ultrasound Imaging
Tara Mund, DPT, Women’s Health Specialist
What is Rehabilitative Ultrasound Imaging (RUSI)?
Quite simply it is a tool we can use to see your muscles in action. For women, it is similar to your OB using ultrasound technology to see your baby. Physical Therapists can use different settings to look at muscle layers and determine if they are working properly.
What muscles do you look at?
Right now we are both using it to look at core muscles including the pelvic floor, transverse abdominus, obliques and multifidus. Over the next several months we will additionally be using it to assess many other muscles around the hip and deep muscles in the neck.
Does it hurt?
Not even a tiny bit. It’s fascinating to see what your body is doing or not doing, then and gain control of these muscles in an accurate way. Gone are the days when you keep wondering – am I doing this right?
How is this helpful?
We all learn differently but for most people vision is a very strong learning tool. For example when we are first learning a new exercise watching ourselves in the mirror helps initially. Learning a motor skill such as contracting the correct muscles is similar. RUSI gives us that visual feedback to know if we did it correctly or incorrectly. It’s our mirror for muscles deeper than the surface.
When would this be appropriate?
It would be helpful in any of the following conditions:
- Back Pain
- Pelvic Pain
- Hip and Groin Pain
- After you have healed from any abdominal surgery
- Incontinence issues (bowel or bladder)
- Any condition that you are suffering in which core strength is an important component
If someone is being treated by another PT would they have to switch?
Absolutely not! At Alpine we are used to collaborating with each other which allows our patients to benefit from the various specialties of individual PTs. We extend this same service to our colleagues around the area. A person can schedule 1-2 visits to focus on training their core using RUSI and incorporate what they learn into their plan of care with their primary PT, wherever they may be. Alpine PT is the only clinic in Western Montana and potentially the state that is offering this advanced training tool and we want to help as many people as possible in their healing efforts.
What should I expect from a treatment session?
Before your visit you are asked to not urinate for 1 hour prior and drink 1-2 glasses of water in that same hour. Wear something with a comfortable stretching waistband. We keep the lights low so you can see the screen easily and you’ll be on your back with your knees bent for part of the time and on your stomach or side to visualize the deep back muscles. We sometimes will use things to help you get a better contraction like a ball or a wedge. By the end of your treatment session you will given a list of things to practice on your own. It takes at least one hour visit and sometimes requires 2 visits depending on how many areas we are examining.
What are some interesting things you’ve seen so far?
None of these are 100% true but we’ve seen a few trends.
- More men than women get an automatic co-contraction of the transverse abdominus with pelvic floor contractions (Kegels).
- We have to move back and forth from looking at the screen and closing your eyes to feel it in your own body to make change in your muscle activation.
- Often the change isn’t drastic in the visit but that evening when you go home and practice; when you return for the next visit there is significant change.
- Putting someone in a slightly rotated position often results in a better multifidus contraction on the painful side and then carries over to neutral immediately after.
Will this ‘cure’ my painful condition?
A professor once told me that if someone tells you this cures everything, walk away. After 10 years of practice, I believe that more than ever. Restoring musculoskeletal health to alleviate pain requires a strong foundation, appropriate flexibility and movement strategies that do not continuously over stress tissue. RUSI helps us in the foundations and building strength from the inside out!
For more information, call Angela or Tara at our north clinic at 406-541-2606.
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