Now hiring: Full time outpatient Neuro/Geriatric PT

We are ready to welcome an EXCELLENT Outpatient Neurologic + Geriatric focused Physical Therapist to join our growing team! As a member of this group, you can expect to receive and contribute to a dynamic and interactive group with experienced and collaborative PTs in a state of the art facility – featuring clinical research, the latest in technology, and peers with board certifications + decades of experience in your field! Work alongside recognized experts, and develop your practice built on evidence, objective measures, and the principles of both exercise in aging and neuroplasticity. Applicants should be ready to grow their practice and reputation through improving patient function and quality of life in this environment of care that includes: underwater treadmill with overhead unweighting, BWSTT, accelerometry and body-worn sensors, computerized dynamic gait assessments with forceplate-enabled treadmill, and more!

Interested and qualified applicants should send send resumes to:

Welcome Zane Wise, PT, DPT !!

NWRA is thrilled to welcome back, Zane Wise. Zane came to us from Willamette University as an aide and was immediately a part of the family. He moved on to George Fox University for PT school in 2014, and was a stellar student. We are and were fortunate enough to host his practice in Salem, at our Capital Manor and 3220 Orthopedic sites. WELCOME BACK ZANE!!

Support Our Local Races #SOLR

#SOLR. Support our Local Races! Calling all competitive runners! Our rehabilitation clinic is sponsoring a local race and offering a raffle for those entered under our code to the local Memorial Day Half-marathon/10K/5k organized by Run With Paula. The registration page is: We are offering a free 1 hour of personal training and a free 30 minute underwater treadmill experience to two separate raffle winners among those registered under our discount code: NWREHAB

Yes, another NWRA testimonial!

I highly recommend Northwest Rehabilitation Associates!  Everyone on the staff at Northwest Rehab is polite and helpful.  Scheduling sessions is easy on the phone or in person.  The exercise equipment is varied, providing many types of workouts.  Everything is clean and well maintained, creating a comfortable atmosphere.

They have one of the very few underwater treadmills in Oregon, in the small heated therapy pool, which has been a great help to me.  This is the only place I’m able to walk without crutches and climb up and down steps; this is building my strength and balance and boosting my confidence!

Whitney Gray was assigned to me and I could not be more happy or satisfied with her instruction and guidance.  She answers all my questions thoughtfully and knowledgeably, listens to my concerns, and her easy-going attitude and ability to adjust easily to challenges makes each session pleasant and beneficial.  I appreciate Whitney’s professionalism and friendliness.  Working with her has made my journey to strength, increased mobility and pain reduction enjoyable with enough challenges to help me reach my goals.

A big Thank You!! to Whitney, owner Mike Studer and all the Crew at Northwest Rehabilitation!

KH,  Another (more than) satisfied Salem resident…

Welcome Grant Bortnem, PT, DPT, OCS

NWRA is proud to welcome and host the practice of Grant Bortnem, PT, DPT, OCS. Grant graduated with an Exercise Science degree from Oregon State University and his DPT in physical therapy from Pacific University. He obtained his OCS – Orthopedic Clinical Specialist designation in 2007 and has continued to push himself in learning how to provide this expert-level of care ever since.

We are most pleased to welcome Grant, as he embodies the “Specialist Care with a Personal Touch” that NWRA proudly stands-for. He is both attentive and objective, possessing the ability to meet each patient exactly where they need to be for exercise intensity, mode of instruction, and pain tolerances.
Grant and his family live in West Salem. Watch for Grant on the road cycle, behind a book, playing with his son, literally horsing around, or even playing music…a man of many interests and talents.

NWRA and Geriathletics: A testimonial

From a Salem-area endurance athlete, came this:

I am writing to thank you and the staff at NWRA for making such a significant improvement in the quality of my life.

I realize you have your technical ways of assessing my progress. But I want to share with you my assessment and translate to you that progress into the actual changes I have realized in my day to day living.

In August 2015 I lost my hearing and most of my balance. For a month I walked with a cane. That change in my life and shock to my  abilities was almost incomprehensible for my endurance athlete spirit.

One day while out on a personal errand, I tripped and fell down a number of concrete steps. After that, I was nauseous every day, the entire day. My balance improved some in autumn 2015 but my balance was still hugely impaired.  Walking was unsteady and uncomfortable. I would regularly collide with the walls and doorways in my own home. Sleeping was sporadic – I would wake during the night with vertigo, cold sweats, and even greater nausea. Training to maintain my health and fitness was crushing. My first day back in the weight room, my one hour routine took three hours and at the end I was so physically sick I had to go to bed for 6 hours. I had also lost my balance in the water, so I had lost my swim stroke and one of my special pleasures in life – long distance swimming.

NWRA has changed my life. I walk with much more comfort, confidence and stability. I have zero vertigo – which is a blessing hard to describe or imagine unless you have lived with constant nausea for many months. I can now lay horizontal without vertigo and nausea; so i mostly sleep through the night. My weight room training is near normal. I run 30+ miles a week and my running form and stability continue to improve. I have a swim coach and am relearning to swim. And I can cycle at an acceptable level. In summary, I feel significantly better than I did before I came to NWRA and I’m able to comfortably be more active.  NWRA has helped me regain much of my balance; and because of that, I have been able to regain a quality life.

The improvement in my balance and consequently in the quality of my life is major. I am so very grateful for what NWRA has done for me.

Thanks to you and your staff so very much for your skills, your insights, your patience, your kindness, your encouragements, and your help. I particularly value the way you personally can judge my capabilities and set goals that challenge me and stretch my abilities while maintaining my confidence and motivation.


Welcome Scott Newberry, PT, DPT!

NWRA is thrilled to welcome Scott Newberry, PT, DPT! Scott will be joining our team starting in January! He is moving to Oregon from Texas after graduating from a well-established PT program, generating some of the best PTs in manual therapy, Hardin-Simmons University. In addition to his classroom performance, Scott excelled in the application of manual therapy and was granted one of the most sought-after clinical rotations, at the Steamboat Springs site – a center for the Institute of Physical Art and Functional Mobilization Therapy. Welcome Scott!”

High-Intensity Interval Training


       HIIT is an acronym that stands for high intensity interval training. It is the one of the more modern principles of exercise science, being applied now more commonly in performance training, rehabilitation after sport-related injury, as well as neurological rehabilitation.  HIIT is a means by which the subject, athlete, or patient can participate in an elevated intensity or dosage of exercise (weights, speed or resistance training over a shorter total application while realizing similar or greater-man benefits as compared to more moderate levels of intensity carried out for longer periods of time. HIIT has research-proven applications in swimmers, runners and cyclists that has included 40 and up to 60% reduction in training volume while realizing similar benefits to matched subjects that participate in greater volumes (running mileage, swimming yardage, cycling minutes or miles).
       In neurologic rehabilitation applications, subjects that participate in high intensity interval training are able to access the levels of intensity necessary to promote or facilitate Neuroplasticity that would have been otherwise inaccessible to them had they been attempting to achieve moderate levels for longer periods of time. In yet another application, HIIT has been shown to be effective in underwater treadmill-training applications for persons with osteoarthritis of the knees and hips. Persons with OA can expect to realize less pain, greater endurance, greater function, higher quality of life, and more strength through applications of HIIT using the underwater treadmill environment and work against the resistance jets.
  1.      Billinger S, Boyne P, Coughenour E, Dunning K, Mattlage A. Does aerobic exercise and the FITT principle fit into stroke recovery? Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2015;15(2), 519.
  2.       Yázigi F, Espanha M, Vieira F, Messier S, Monteiro C, Veloso A. The PICO project: aquatic exercise for knee osteoarthritis in overweight and obese individuals. BMC Musculoskelet Disorders. 2013;14: 320.
  3.      Bove A. Pulmonary aspects of exercise and sports. Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc Journal. 2016;12(2), 93-97.

Fall Prevention: Those with good habits live long!

Those with Good Habits Live Long

The science of rehabilitating elderly patients that face weakness, imbalance, or both is improving and must continue to advance in both proficiency and popularity. The cost of functional dependence, due to care giving expenses, or the medical care after a fall – is saddling our economy and Medicare to a greater extent each year.1

Many medical professionals have the opportunity to influence the quality of life in our aging population, whether it be directly in exercise, rehabilitation, pain control or indirectly in the referral to those that can. To this end, this article will review the true science and practical capacities to improve strength, balance and endurance after 65, detail the financial attributes associated with falls, debunk the myths of aging, and suggest avenues for meaningful change.

The Myths of Aging – “Too old to improve?”

 Myths of aging are both pervasive and insidious. Many healthcare professionals and more laypersons continue to hold the opinion that, “falling is a part of aging” and that , “an individual over 80 cannot gain strength”. When elderly patients believe these to be true, it can be even more subversive. The facts are, balance rehabilitation in the elderly and strengthening for those that have lost conditioning – are effective.2-5

The financial and societal impact

“Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.”6

The cost of medical care after a fall is over 13,000 on average.7 If a hospitalization is required, over $35,000 per fall. If you were concerned about medical costs expanding in the U.S. – you may consider prioritizing falls screening and prevention, should you consider product of 11 seconds x $13,000? By 2020, the annual cost for healthcare after a fall (including emergency, surgical, hospitalization and rehabilitative) will exceed 43.8 billion dollars. 8 To improve the application of falls prevention, the CDC developed a sophisticated falls screening tool, known as STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accident and Death Injuries).9

A change in the reimbursement landscape…

 The financial incentives of preventing a fall, as detailed above, have now expanded into financial DISINCENTIVES (penalties) of readmission due to a fall. Beginning in October 2008 Medicare stopped reimbursing hospitals for certain injuries if they were the result of a fall that occurred during hospitalization. Earlier this year, the test markets for Medicare’s Commission on Joint Rehabilitation (CJR) program started, which essentially places a financial cap for the cost of post-surgical care.10 Clearly, a fall prevented means dollars saved – affecting the entire continuum of care.

Reimbursement changes have not, and will not, stop there. Estimates are that by 2019 the MACRA (Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act). APTA Director of Regulatory Affairs Roshunda Drummond–Dye says that members of the profession can be assured that it’s only a matter of time. “It’s clear that CMS hasn’t forgotten physical therapy,” she said. “MACRA is the first tangible step toward mandating a payment system that bases reimbursement on quality of care and outcomes…”11. Therapists should hold themselves accountable and take pride in standardized, objective measures and data collection regarding fall prevention and strengthening in the elderly. If what you are doing is not working – change it! If what you are doing IS working – measure, refine, disseminate, and continue to apply “it”.

Importance of and evidence for intensity in training

People over 65, even over 85 can and should improve – if the science is applied with the appropriate dosage. No matter whether we are speaking of pre-habilitation (before joint replacement) or falls prevention (when STEADI indicates the need); “dosage matters”. Frequency, intensity, time and type (FITT)12 must be considered in regard to strength, endurance and balance training. It takes hard work to improve in any of these capacities, as Bette Davis said, “Old age is no place for sissies.” Many times, therapists’ under-dose or practice without sufficient intensity, allowing their own perceptions to limit the (intensity) of care, before the elderly patient’s body does.

Strength training

Readers are directed to excellent literature on the science of strength training in the elderly. 2-5 While it is an injustice to attempt to summarize the research here, a few points of application should be highlighted:

  • Training should be 3x/week at a resistance that is 80% of a person’s one repetition maximum – for 2 sets of 8-10 repetitions.
  • Consider High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) applications – especially in conditions of lower impact (water, body weight support, etc)

Strengthening does not have to be equipment-based. Consider 10 repetitions of sitting to standing with some intensity, three times per week. This can be adjusted to include upper extremity support, at different heights, with controlled eccentric loading, etc.

With bed rest after medical complications, pneumonia, fall, or surgery – the ill-effects of disuse atrophy are more prevalent in the elderly. However, there appears to be some confusion when it comes to seeing a difference between “getting stronger with aging” and “recovering strength in old age”. There is no disputing that the aging process includes sarcopenia, decreased force production and loss of both type I and type II muscle fibers. So,“Do we lose strength as we age?” Yes, we do. However, “Can seniors regain strength after inactivity or medical complication?” Yes. BOTH are true. Rehabilitation plays a key role after periods of deconditioning, or in response to reversing the effects of disuse. We need to recognize, apply, and educate on these facts.

Endurance training: Muscular and cardiovascular

As with strength training, I will not attempt a meta-analysis on endurance training in the elderly here. Some of these cited articles have defined the science of endurance “dosage”.2 A summary includes:

  • Muscular endurance training includes 3-5x/week at a resistance that is 50-60% of one repetition maximum, for 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
  • Cardiovascular and muscular endurance training programs can include High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) applications – using a preferred modality of exercise: dance, swimming, walking, running, elliptical, cycling, etc.2, 13
  • Patients can benefit ideally from 30 minutes of sustained exercise, or an accumulation of 30 minutes, spread throughout the day (ex. 3 sets of 10 minute bouts).

Again, as with the confusion about gaining strength with aging, we debunk the myths and clarify, “Do we lose aerobic capacity as we age?” Yes, we do, as a function of heart rate, cardiac output and VO2 max. However, “Can seniors regain endurance” after periods of deconditioning, or in response to reversing the effects of inactivity – again, yes.

 Balance training

 Who is at risk for falls? The science of balance rehabilitation is becoming more sophisticated each month, through research on valid testing/screening, through technology for examination, and technological advances in treatment. As noted above, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a comprehensive approach to falls screening, called STEADI in 2012. Using fall history, performance on a 3-item battery and other risk factor calculations, this is a quick, reliable, and user-friendly tool that should be a staple of fall prevention for all primary care practitioners.

Technological advances in balance testing help therapists to more accurately define the parameters of a balance problem, and more precisely rehabilitate the same. Recent advances include wireless gyroscopes capable of detecting three-dimensional motion for sway, coordination and symmetry; as well as forceplate-enabled treadmills, for motion and ground reaction force analysis. 14

We know that balance activities must be processed regularly to be effective. Some citations report 50 hours of practice15, others report 1-7x/week5. We do have more to learn about the science of dosage both for frequency AND difficulty. A recent study from the 2014 meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine revealed the effectiveness of four recommendations (and their respective utilization) to prevent falls in the elderly: physical therapy (81%), exercise (71%), Vitamin D (46%), and opthamology (46%). The intervention tracked 32 subjects and  found that of the 28/32 patients who fell prior to the FC visit, only 12/28 fell after the FC visit. The average number of falls in the 6 months prior to the appointment was 2.97 versus 0.28 in the 6 months following the appointment.16

What we do know, is that with the aging process, even community-dwelling elderly experience a reduction in sensory and motor conduction velocity. This leads to increased reaction times. When combined with sarcopenia – the result is reduced power (force applied within a constrained time) for a quick and effective balance reaction. Balance, therefore, cannot be trained in isolation from strength and endurance.

Additionally, the battle against the epidemic of falls has led to policy and practice changes, bringing us community-based fall-prevention programs that are both affordable and accessible. The most well-known and widely practiced of these—OTAGO, Tai Chi, Stepping-On, and a Matter of Balance—are endorsed by the NIH and CDC fall-prevention action committee.1, 17, 18  We are coming to believe that many falls can be prevented through increased exercise and regular activity, as the OTAGO exercise program has shown.17

Go forth and prevent!

No matter if you are in a position to directly provide rehabilitative or exercise interventions, or make the necessary referral to those qualified to do so. Know that it is not only possible to improve – it is evidence-based that we can effect a positive change. If we continue to perpetrate the message that failing function is a part of aging that we cannot impact, we create a self-fulfilling prophecy for all of our community-dwelling elderly. We can do better to help those that have lost strength, endurance, or balance. We must commit to them, or they have no reason to commit to the work that it will take to improve. Be ready to effect a change – to your practice and your patients – before National Falls Prevention Awareness Day (the first day of Fall, every year) on September 24th, 2016. Perhaps, it is time to change the phrase and meaning of, “Old habits die hard”, to, “Those with good habits, live long.”.


  1. Studer MT. Fall Prevention: The science, statistics, and solution. Physcial Therapy Products. 2015 October. 22-25.
  2. Studer MT. The aging endurance athlete: An analysis of the latest evidence for optimal training schedules, expected gains, and recovery strategies. Topics in geriatric rehabilitation. 2016 January; 32(1):34-38
  3. Borde R, Hortobágyi T, Granacher U. Dose–Response Relationships of Resistance Training in Healthy Old Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.z). 2015;45(12):1693-1720.
  4.  Aagaard P, Suetta C, Caserotti P, Magnusson SP, Kjaer M. Role of the nervous system in sarcopenia and muscle atrophy with aging: strength training as a countermeasure. Scand J Med Sci Spor. 2010;20:49–64
  5. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc :41, 687–708; 2009
  6. National Council on Aging. Available at: Accessed June 24, 2016
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Cost of Falls Among Older Adults. 2012. Available at: Accessed June 24, 2016.
  8. Adams PE, Martinez ME, Vickerie JI, Kirzinger WK. Summary health statistics for the US population: National Health Interview Survey, 2010. Vital Health Stat 10. 2011;251:1-117.
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention and Control.STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries) Tool Kit for Health Care Providers. Available at: Accessed June 24, 2016.
  10. American Health Care Association. Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Final Rule Summary. Accessed June 24, 2016.
  11. American Physical Therapy Association. PT In Motion. New MACRA Systems Could Affect PTs by 2019: Here Are 5 Things You Need to Know Now.
  12. Brubaker PH. Steps for Improving Physical Activity Orientation Among Health-care Providers of Older Cardiovascular Patients. Current geriatrics reports. 2014;3(4):291-298.
  13. Effectiveness of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT) and Continuous Endurance Training for VO2max Improvements: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials.Milanović Z, Sporiš G, Weston M.Sports Med. 2015 Oct; 45(10):1469-81.
  14. Studer MT, Horak F. • The Future Of Movement Monitoring: Body-Worn Sensors for Accurate Measures of Function and Progress. Physical Therapy Products. 2014 July;10-12
  1. Sherrington C, Tiedemann A, Fairhall N, Close JC, Lord SR. Exercise to prevent falls in older adults: an updated meta-analysis and best practice recommendations.N S W Public Health Bull. 2011;22(3–4):78–83.
  2. Abstracts from the 37th Annual Meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine.Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2014;29(Suppl 1):1-545.
  3. Avin KG, Hanke TA, Kirk-Sanchez N, et al. Management of falls in community-dwelling older adults: clinical guidance statement from the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association. Physical Therapy. 2015;95(6):815-834.
  4. Thomas S. Does the Otago Exercise Programme reduce mortality and falls in older adults? A Systematic review and meta-analysis.Age Ageing. 2010;39:681-687.