News

New Equipment at Great River Health Systems Strengthens Spines and Measures Results

April 5, 2011

Great River Center for Rehab and Clinics is using spine-rehabilitation equipment that’s taking the aches away from chronic neck and lower-back problems. MedX® cervical and lumber extension machines are recognized as the “gold standard” for treating and reducing pain and dysfunction through specific strengthening exercises.

Great River Health Systems is the only facility in the eastern half of Iowa to offer the MedX equipment in its physical therapy program. Referral from a physician is required.

Developed by the founder of Nautilus® exercise equipment, MedX cervical and lumber extension equipment resembles traditional exercise machines. Besides isolating and strengthening spinal muscles, the extension machines accurately measure muscle strength.

“Based on patients’ tested strength, MedX equipment is used to strengthen the deep extensor muscles that support the spine. They often are dormant or underused in patients with chronic neck and back pain,” said Daniel Miller-Jacobs, doctor of physical therapy and outpatient rehabilitation supervisor at the Center for Rehab and Clinics. “When used with body-mechanics training and specific therapeutic exercise, MedX equipment can provide significant and lasting improvement in spinal functions. We’re seeing people whose muscle function is 20 percent below normal return to normal function in just a few weeks.”

During Med-X treatment, physical therapists also may use other forms of treatment, such as electrical stimulation, gentle massage, ice and heat therapy, and ultrasound.

Weight-bearing and resistance exercises can greatly reduce pain and increase mobility from herniated or degenerating disks. Disks are soft, gel-like cushions between the bones of the spine that allow the backbone to move. When a disk between two bones in the spine presses on the nerves around the backbone, it’s called a herniated disk. It can cause pain in the neck, back, arms and legs, depending on the location of the damaged disk. Disks that become herniated usually are in an early stage of degeneration.

Patients challenge affected muscles by performing repetitions on the equipment. Physical therapists increase resistance in small increments during the course of treatment.

“MedX cervical and lumbar extension helps people get better even after several failed attempts at other forms of treatment,” said orthopedic surgeon Doug Foster, M.D., Great River Spine Clinic. “It applies sports-medicine principles to a very specific group of spine muscles. In football injuries, players aren’t released until the knee is strong again for less chance of re-injury. In the same way, we test muscle strength before, during and after MedX therapy to make sure patients are healing and increasing strength.”

Follow-up studies of patients show cervical and extensor muscles remain strong after treatment ends. Patients who have had treatment report better function at work and home, and during recreational activities.

Patients and physicians who would like more information about therapy using MedX cervical and lumbar extension machines may call Great River Center for Rehab and Clinics at 319-768-4100.