The Importance of Hand Washing in Physical Therapy

As the cooler months approach and the seasons change, cold & flu season begins to develop. Luckily, there are a variety of ways one can prevent sickness for one’s self in addition to preventing the spread of sickness to others. Simple suggestions include avoiding contact with individuals who are sick, staying home if sickness develops, avoiding touching the face, nose, and mouth, and covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. One of the simplest ways to prevent sickness includes a task often overlooked: correct hand washing.


Taking the time to properly hand wash is one of the easiest ways to prevent getting sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control, preventing sickness reduces the amount of antibiotics people use and the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop. Hand-washing alone can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections. Unfortunately, most people do not take the necessary time to thoroughly wash their hands. This includes rubbing hands together with soap for at least 30 seconds (or the equivalent to singing “Happy Birthday” twice). Taking the proper amount of time to lather hands will ultimately reduce the number of microbes to ones hands. An additional tip includes taking the time to scrub not just the palms of the hands, but also the backs of hands and underneath fingernails. These areas often get neglected but have the capacity to carry just as much bacteria. Another important suggestion includes thoroughly drying hands after washing because germs are more likely to spread on wet surfaces.


Most common sicknesses could easily be prevented if correct precaution is taken. If you think about the amount of things one touches throughout the day, it is no wonder hand-to-hand contact is one of the easiest ways we pick-up and ultimately spread germs. Keeping this in mind, proper hand-washing should become a priority to everyone this cold and flu season.


Naturally, hand washing is an activity that most physical therapists know not to neglect! Because we interact with so many patients throughout the day, we always want to make sure to be fresh for everyone coming through our doors.


Here’s the guide that we use for our offices:

physical therapy hand washing

The Maitland-Australian Method Explained

The Maitland-Australian method of manual therapy was developed by Geoff Maitland. This method focuses on patient symptoms and specifically how these symptoms change following specific manual therapy techniques, utilizing specific and graded joint mobilizations. These mobilizations are chosen for each individual patient based on their clinical presentation.

Upon evaluation, a thorough patient history is taken, focusing on exacerbating positions/activities and pain-relieving positions, then a movement assessment is completed. The clinician searches for the comparable sign – the movement that reproduces the patients pain most accurately. The therapist will then complete a treatment technique (often a joint mobilization of appropriate grade) and re-test the patient’s motion, looking for a reduction of their comparable sign.
If the patient’s motion is less painful and their comparable sign has been reduced, the clinician continues with this same technique. It’s that simple!

Typical bouts of hands-on techniques last 10-30 minutes based on the patient’s condition. Often, soft tissue mobilization, massage, muscle energy techniques, etc. are used in conjunction with joint mobilization in order to reduce pain and re-establish normal function.

Maitland is the father of graded joint mobilization
Grade I: small amplitude short of tissue resistance
Grade II: large amplitude short of tissue resistance
Grade III: small amplitude into 50% of tissue resistance
Grade IV: small amplitude into 50% of tissue resistance
Grade V: small amplitude, high velocity thrust and end of available range

Grades I and II are non-threatening mobilizations used to help with acute pain, reduce muscle spasms, and slightly improve range of motion, primarily used in pain-dominant patients. Grades III, IV, and V are mobilizations used to improve joint mobility, generally used in stiffness-dominant patients who have lower pain levels

The clinician will consistently re-test the patient’s motion, looking for reduction in pain levels and improved range of motion. Along with joint mobilization, modalities such as moist heat, electric stimulation, and ice (cryotherapy) are used to reduce the patient’s pain. When pain levels are controlled, a transition to non-threatening therapeutic exercise are used to build strength and stability surrounding the joint/joints that were once painful.

Many of Red Canyon therapists employ the Maitland concept and are actively pursuing a formal certification in this treatment technique. If you are interested and feel that the Maitland-Australian method will help relieve your pain, contact us today!

How Does Physical Therapy Help in Concussion Recovery?

Now that it’s July, it’s already time to start gearing up for fall sports like football, soccer, volleyball, and others. Unfortunately, anyone playing these sports, as we all know, is at risk for concussion. Head injuries have received a lot of publicity in recent news — so in this month’s blog, we’d like to answer a few questions about concussions and address how various techniques (particularly vestibular physical therapy) can be helpful in the recovery process. Read more

Manual Therapy and its Importance in Physical Therapy

What is manual therapy? Why is it an important form of Physical Therapy?

Manual therapy is defined as the skilled passive movement of joints and soft tissues to treat musculoskeletal pain and disability; it most commonly includes kneading and manipulation of muscles, joint mobilization and joint manipulation. Manual therapy is just one type of physical therapy Red Canyon offers from our two offices in Frederick, Maryland.

Read more