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Reducing Opioid Abuse: Motion Is Lotion

Physical therapists explore a new model for pain management.

Physical therapy to prevent opioid abuse

In an innovative move, researchers at the Division of Physical Therapy at West Virginia University School of Medicine have created a model of care for doctors of physical therapy students to consider. Their mission involved looking at how to implement movement interventions throughout care to reduce opioid abuse and misuse.

Instead of turning to medications for pain management and risk opioid abuse, faculty members encourage students to promote healthy physical activity in general and specific movement therapy as needed throughout the recovery process.

“I think it comes back to movement,” said lead author Anne Swisher, PT, PhD, professor and director of scholarship development in the department of physical therapy at West Virginia University School of Medicine. “One of the catchphrases we like to use is, ‘Motion is lotion for the joints.’ And we know that regular physical activity releases the body’s own opioid chemicals. That’s the so-called ‘runner’s high’ that makes us feel good. Physical therapists can partner with people to work through their barriers to becoming more physically active.”

Learn more about this research in PTJ (2021; 101 [2]).

See also: Exercise and Pain: Teaching Clients to Follow the Signs

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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