Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
It is unlikely that Sir Isaac Newton ever imagined how his third law of motion would be applied to modern sports training. It is now an integral part of VALD Performance Force Plate Technology offered by OrthoKansas and LMH Health Therapy Services – the only site in the region to offer this technology for everyday athletes and orthopedic patients.
VALD force plates
Force plates are used during testing and training to help you achieve your performance goals while avoiding injury. They use sensors to detect differences in forces exerted on the ground that therapists may not be able to see with the naked eye.
“Our team can look at a patient’s bodyweight squat, especially for those who have issues with offloading — or not weight bearing — on their extremities,” said Danny Larson, physical therapist at LMH Health West Campus. . “This technology allows us to get objective feedback to inform our rehabilitation plan. Feedback shows the therapist what a patient needs to work on and how to focus their training.
Benefits for rehabilitation and training
Athletes using the VALD force plates at OrthoKansas benefit from understanding how they load weight onto their extremities following injury or surgery. Larson shared that research shows people unconsciously unload or favor a limb after injury for long periods of time, even after it feels like healing is complete.
“The problem with this unconscious unloading is that it has the potential to increase the risk of re-injury, requiring you to spend more time off the pitch or the court,” he said. “Knowing how you load your limbs helps guide your training program so you’re doing the best things possible to get back on the court and stay there.”
Comments on Loading Patterns
Patients can also use plate technology to see live how they load their extremities. This helps both patient and therapist ensure they are performing quality reps during training, allowing them to get the most out of their time and effort.
It’s not just athletes who benefit from the use of force platforms. Luis Salazar, MD, sports medicine physician at OrthoKansas, shared that many patients with lower extremity injuries can benefit from this technology.
“Force plates are a great tool for assessing discrepancies between loading, jumping, force development, and symmetry between the left and right sides of the body,” he said. “I have referred a number of patients to our sports physiotherapy providers and incorporated technology into their rehabilitation.”
Dr. Salazar pointed out that getting feedback on the plates does not increase the length of an individual therapy appointment, as getting feedback only takes a few minutes.
“Patients who use force platforms can get immediate feedback, awareness and understanding of their progress. This helps us provide an accurate timeline for their recovery,” he said.
Knee replacement surgery patients reap the benefits
An ongoing study by OrthoKansas and West Campus physical therapists is examining load patterns (or the amount of weight placed on one side of the body versus the other) over time for patients undergoing knee replacement surgery, both before and after surgery.
“Force platforms can really benefit knee replacement patients by helping them understand how they are loading their new knee over time. If they place a higher load on either knee, it may play a role in accelerating pain and arthritis in other joints,” Larson explained. “Their test results help design training programs to facilitate proper loading and weight distribution of their legs.”
The study has currently collected data from around 75 patients and plans to reassess their progress at regular intervals.
“With nearly 400 total knee replacement surgeries performed last year by OrthoKansas’ top three joint replacement surgeons, the ability to increase the number of participants can really help provide more in-depth analysis of the data. This will help in turn to identify common trends that our patients exhibit after total knee replacement surgery, helping to optimize their outcomes,” said Larson.
Integrating technology into patient rehabilitation is not new to the LMH Health team, it is something that is commonly used. West Campus therapists have access to state-of-the-art technology to help provide feedback on strength, stability, and gait.
Isokinetic testing machine
LMH Health has an isokinetic testing machine, one of the few in the state of Kansas. The machine provides the most objective measure of joint function after injury or surgery, for both upper and lower limbs.
“Isokinetic testing allows us to assess variances in movement, strength, and stability,” Dr. Salazar said. “This technology lets us know what level our patients are at and what needs extra attention, allowing us to personalize their training and rehabilitation exercises.”
When runners seek expertise on their running mechanics, they can also turn to LMH Health for answers. The RunStrong team performs a review to make objective assessments and uses video analysis to measure cadence, foot strike and highlight gaps in a runner’s form and technique.
While OrthoKansas and LMH Health have the leading providers, facilities and technology needed to raise the bar for patients through treatment and recovery, Dr. Salazar stressed that communication is key.
“It’s critical for the patient to communicate with their physical therapist to understand what their treatment plan entails,” he said. “We want you to be actively involved so that you are on your feet and safely returning to your pre-injury performance as soon as possible.”
To enjoy cutting-edge technology in your own backyard, turn to LMH Health and OrthoKansas for care. We treat patients of all ages and abilities, providing exceptional expert care for a community hospital – it’s one of the best in the world.