is now Compass Physical Therapy!
Posted on November 3rd, 2018

Congratulations to the Compass Physical Therapy team who won Finalist in the Medical Practice of the Year category and Winner of the Small Business of the Year at the 2018 Best in Business Awards.  It is such an honor to receive this award!  We will strive to continue to provide exceptional physical therapy services for the Madison Community and deliver customer service that is beyond expectation.  

Posted on July 13th, 2018

​Compass Physical Therapy is embarking on a new journey!  In August 2018, the company will be moving to a new location with an accompanying internal structural change.  The new location is 3825 Sullivan Street in Madison, AL and Compass Physical Therapy will occupy Suite 4 with a focus on developmental physical therapy primarily for ages 0-18 years old.  We have not forgotten our adult patients!  Long time employees, Joshua Arney and Gary Stinett, are opening their own clinic, Legacy Physical Therapy, to continue treatment of our adult population.  Compass will work in collaboration with Legacy moving forward for all of our long-standing and dedicated adult patients for a seamless transition.  Legacy Physical Therapy will also be located at 3825 Sullivan Street in Suite 2 to ensure continuity of care for our existing patients. 

After 13 years of providing physical therapy for all ages in Madison, it is a very exciting time as we journey forward into the future.  The move will allow Compass PT to add more treatment options for infants, tots, tweens and teens in all stages of development.  Special care must be taken in treating a developing body to ensure it is supplied with everything it needs to reach adulthood in a healthy state.  Compass Physical Therapy specializes in this exact type of pediatric care which is different from physical therapy for adults.  Treatment is not the same at all ages that is why it is essential for our youth to be treated by Physical Therapists who are specifically trained in this area! 

Compass PT will be adding new technology to allow us to expand in areas such as sensory integration, treatment of cerebral palsy and developmental delay.  In addition, we will be refreshing our allied health professional training seminars by offering continuing education courses right in the clinic.  Keeping in line with our community outreach tradition, we are exploring classes and support groups for parents as they navigate areas such as special needs, the healthy year-round athlete, and coping with sensory processing in the home.  Compass Physical Therapy will also be developing a program to bring play back to childhood through the Fitness Initiative with the goals of preventing injury and keeping the growing body healthy. 

Watch for more information from Legacy Physical Therapy as they launch their orthopedic clinic for adults.  The transition will occur through the month of August and will be complete by September 1st.  We at Compass PT have full confidence in Josh and Gary to carry on the rich tradition of physical therapy excellence focused on patient-centered care.  For those of you who have experienced this type of PT, you know all physical therapy clinics are not the same. 

For more information, please contact Compass Physical Therapy at 256.325.5400 or visit our website  Follow our progress on Facebook- or Twitter @PTCompassAL.  

Posted on April 2nd, 2018

​Autism.  What does it mean to you?  In the last decade the numbers have escalated from 1 in 300 to 1 in 150 to now 1 in 88.  That can be scary for many but for us in the trenches seeing it firsthand, everyday treating pediatric patients, the numbers are becoming an injustice to the parents and to the children themselves.  The saying goes "If you've seen one child with Autism, you've seen one child with Autism."  It is accurate, therefore, that the diagnosis is referred to as a spectrum.  The unfortunate side effect is that it seems EVERYONE is being placed somewhere on the spectrum regardless if they belong there or not.  When everyone is "special" no one is and all it does is slow the process down.  

My frustration began when I saw a news story of a little boy who clearly had Down Syndrome who the reporter labeled as "autistic."  What?!  He is not autistic!  He has Down Syndrome!  Why was he place on the spectrum?  It made no sense.  Since then, every child who is a little different, is delayed in speech, introverted, or has any other diagnosis like Cerebral Palsy or a traumatic brain injury is having the autism diagnosis tacked on.  Yes, yes, I get it that it is a behavioral diagnosis, but do we really need to give every child the label?  It is a grave injustice to the children who actually have autism!  

In my practice, I've seen a handful of "types", if you will, of truly autistic children.  One group is non-verbal, is on-the-go continually, sleeps very little and avoids eye contact with just about everyone.  They tend to be sensory seeking for firm contact and constant motion.  Another group is highly intelligent, incredibly articulate and intuitive.  They have a masterful command of the English language but have very little ability to see outside of black and white, steadfast rules.  This group tends to fixate on a concept and can't move past it.  A third group appears to be stuck where language is concerned but are otherwise cooperative, affectionate, and interactive.  They start with echolalia then one day have an explosion of speech like a dam breaking free, usually catching up to their peers in language once this happens but may retain some quirky social behaviors. 

Then there is the numerous children who come in with a diagnosis of autism that I ask the parents "what merited the diagnosis?" because in all honesty, in many cases I don't see why the label was given.  Most of these "others" have sensory issues which would more accurately be labeled "sensory processing disorder".  Some simply spend too much time in front of screens and have very little ability to socialize or communicate because of what I call early onset gaming that thwarts attention span, language development and social skills, not to mention makes them clumsy, have poor balance and body awareness because they rarely use any body part except their thumbs.  What I find most baffling is when a parent tells me that their child couldn't get services at school without the diagnosis, that other diagnoses "don't qualify".  What?!  So we are labeling kids who don't have autism as autistic just so they can get the services they need at the school level?  Something is wrong here.  No wonder the numbers are sky rocketing- it's false data.  This is muddying the waters and is truly unfair to everyone involved.  

If the powers that be really want to help the real autism community, not to mention children who should have a different diagnosis to get the help they need, subcategories need to be defined to allow parents, educators and professionals the ability to save time, money and resources and get these kids exactly what they need right away.  What frustrates me is the lack of information per child past the broad spectrum diagnosis so parents often spend a year or more, hundreds to thousands of dollars and countless hours of anguish trying to figure it out on their own until they happen upon the right mix of services for their child.  It is heartbreaking!  The diagnosis drives the path for getting help that is why getting the most accurate and detailed diagnosis from the start is so essential.  

And so I ask,  Autism- Really?  You should, too.  

Posted on February 22nd, 2018

Breathing- so natural, we all started doing it the day we were born.  Somewhere along the way into our adult life, we adopt a pattern of breathing that can affect the way we feel, how we sleep, and contribute to aches and pains all over our body.  As asymmetrical beings, we also develop patterns sitting at our desks, going through our daily motions of getting dress, eating, even riding in the car.  With enough repetition, some muscles turn off and just stop working while others stay on and work overtime to compensate for their dormant counterparts.  The result?  Shoulder pain that pinches when you raise your arm over head, migraines, back and neck aches, hip pain, knee pain, you name it.  It is not so much your age as your pattern.  

At Compass Physical Therapy, we utilize a treatment technique called Postural Restoration.  This approach first looks at the alignment of the body and what pattern it has gotten itself into. There are a handful that you will hear us say in the clinic- AIC, PEC, BC- that all just describe which muscles we need to turn off and which we need to turn on.  Once a person has achieved balance, it is referred to as neutral alignment.  Neutral alignment is where we all want to exist because it is in this position that the bones are hitting correctly with their counterparts, the muscles are firing optimally in collaboration with each other and pain from mal alignment is relieved.  It hurts to be out of neutral- literally.  

This is where the heavy breathing comes in.  The PRI treatment involves utilizing the diaphragm and lungs to move your rib cage which in turn move your vertebrae.  Once those line up correctly, the hips and shoulders shift into place which has a ripple affect for the knees and elbows.  These exercises are like nothing you've ever done before.  At least that is what our patients tell us.  PRI also involves taking a good look at your feet and your footwear.  With a stable foundation, your alignment improves dramatically.  The PRI institute recommends certain shoes for certain patterns that have remarkable effects on the way your entire body feels, not just your feet. 

Of all the treatment approaches we use in physical therapy, I can say without a doubt that PRI is the most effective tool I have come across in my 20 years of practicing PT.  Not only do I use it with my patients, I also use it myself as a chronic neck pain sufferer.  If you have tried other forms of PT and are not getting the results you'd hoped for, give us a call.  We will get you back to neutral!  256-325-5400.  

Posted on January 28th, 2018

​In the pediatric wing of our clinic, we see may infants with torticollis and plagiocephaly as stated in the earlier blog, "It Won't Just Go Away!" In the last year or so, the numbers of babies with severe plagiocephaly (flattened or misshapen heads) is increasing and all share one common practice: these babies sleep in a Rock -n- Play instead of in a crib or bassinet. The pattern is so clear that it is time to speak out against this product.

When measuring plagiocephaly, we use digital calipers in our clinic to determine the cranial vault asymmetry, or difference from the right side to the left side of the skull. The "normal range" is a difference of less than 5 mm cranial differential with the protocol to monitor the head shape. Most babies who are referred to us have a cranial vault asymmetry on average of 9-10 mm asymmetry, moderate plagiocephaly, which requires intervention to correct. A conservative approach is used initially with a cranial remolding helmet a "last resort" once conservative measures have not produced the desired results by ~7 months old. The babies we are seeing who sleep in a Rock -n- play are arriving with an average of 12-13 mm cranial differential which is considered severe plagiocephaly. The report of sleeping in this device is consistent across the board with the more severe cases of head deformity seen clinically. These babies more often require cranial remolding helmets to correct the asymmetry because the initial plagiocephaly is so severe.  (See first image below.)

Most parents get angry and feel they have been duped once they learn that the Rock -n- Play is the cause of the severity of the baby's head shape because it is advertised as a "sleeper." Let me clarify by saying that not all babies who sleep in the Rock -n- Play end up with severe plagiocephaly, but the ones that we are seeing clinically with this diagnosis have a consistent pattern of sleeping in this device. By design, the Rock -n- play limits movement. The baby is strapped in a reclined position with two angled side seams where the baby rests the side of his or her head or rests the chin on the chest with the back of the head flat on the surface.  (See second image below.) A body at rest in a reclined position will seek out stability, so in the Rock -n- play, it is one of these two positions. Infants do not have the muscle strength to move out of confined positions that is why it is so important to monitor what they are sleeping on and rotate them regularly. Being strapped in a position in which the body weight is primarily on the bottom prevent the baby from moving freely. 

A baby's soft spots are open until 12 to 18 months of age so during that time, the head is molding and changing shape. The sutures are open allowing the plates of the skull to move as the brain grows. It is vital to have equal contact on all parts of the head while the soft spots and sutures are open to ensure a round head shape. After the sutures and soft spots close, the head shape can only be changed surgically. This is the only window of opportunity you will have to shape your baby's head! If a baby sleeps through the night, that is 7-8 hours of laying in the same position on the same side of the head which will cause head flattening and deformation. My recommendation is a flat surface to allow baby to easily roll the head back and forth, wiggle the body in a natural movement. Without resistance from the sleep surface, this is much easier to do and much more natural. A body needs movement even when asleep. This movement and rotation of the head will help ensure a rounded head appearance. If you want something small and convenient to place next to your bed, look for something like this: (See image 3 and 4 below). It is the best of both worlds, portable as well as a flat firm surface with enough room to move around while asleep.

Many parents begin using a reclined sleeper (Rock -n- Play, swing, bouncer) because the baby has reflux. It is shown that a baby only needs to be inclined for 30 minutes to 1 hour after eating to reduce reflux so it is not necessary to keep the baby propped up all the time. Just as adults who experience reflux do not sleep sitting up, rather, wait for a period of time after eating before laying down. The same principle applies here for infants. If you feel the need to prop you baby up, put a wedge under the crib mattress to incline the surface so the baby is still free to move around during sleep, not confined or strapped in one spot all night long.

It is my mission to stop babies from sleeping in the Rock -n- Play as it is clinically proven to be a significant contributing factor in causing severe plagiocephaly. Please don't let your baby sleep in a Rock -n- Play. Send the manufacturers a message that this device should not be advertised as a sleeper!