The Baker Beacon

Combat Depression with Exercise

Posted in The Baker Beacon

Imagine going to the doctor with symptoms of depression and she hands you a new prescription: Do two sets of squats, 15 bicep curls, 10 laps around the track and call me in the morning. Though this is not (yet) an accurate picture, experts are starting to recognize that regular exercise is not only good for your mood but may help combat depression, too.

Until physicians and other healthcare providers universally prescribe exercise as an alternative treatment for depression, it’s best to turn to a group of professionals who are already in the know: physical therapists. PTs are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health illnesses like depression and understand how the disorder can interfere with a person’s ability to enjoy life.

An individualized care plan starts with a thorough assessment and detailed patient history so the PT can capture the limitations of the illness and understand the goals the patient would like to achieve. Each custom treatment plan includes some combination of flexibility, strength, coordination and balance exercises designed to achieve optimal physical function and to help shed the layers of depression.

Chronic Injuries

For patients suffering from depression, it can be stressful and overwhelming to think about incorporating exercise into their lives either for the first time or after a long hiatus. Because the illness’ symptoms often include fatigue and loss of interest in activities, it can be difficult for patients to take that first step, both literally and figuratively. But physical therapists excel in motivating patients to perform exercises both safely and effectively. In fact, another bonus of seeing a physical therapist to get started on a new exercise program, is that he’s trained to identify other injuries or illnesses that require a special approach.

You don’t have to have depression to reap the benefits of exercise. In fact, the mood-boosting pastime can help anyone who might be temporarily sad or otherwise not themselves. Major life stressors—divorce, loss of a job, and death—are difficult for anyone and regular exercise is a great way to help people through a tough time.

With regular exercise, you’re guaranteed to see improvements in the following areas:

  • Strength and flexibility
  • Sleep
  • Memory
  • Self-confidence
  • Energy
  • Mood

Even minimal changes in any of these areas could change your outlook on the day and your ability to participate in activities you once enjoyed. So, what are you waiting for?

How to Stay Healthy When Life Gets Hectic

Posted in The Baker Beacon

When life gets busy and we’re in a time crunch, healthy living often takes a backseat to the rest of life’s priorities. Late nights at work or a busy family schedule keep us looking for “fast” food and skipping our workout routines.

Here’s 4 things you can do to stay healthy while on the go:

  1. Buy and Use a BPA-Free Water Bottle. Water helps flush toxins and transport nutrients, so staying hydrated is key. Kepp your water bottle with you and refill it frequently.
  2. Eat Breakfast! As we rush through our morning routine, it’s easy to forget the most important part: Breakfast! A healthy breakfast may increase energy and the ability to concentrate, lower cholesterol and help with weight control. Consider healthy options like bananas, veggie omelets, hard-boiled eggs, raisins, or whole-wheat toast.
  3. Choose HEALTHY Snacks. Healthy snacks are a good way to get extra fruits, veggies, and whole grains into your diet. These healthy options can go a long way toward weight loss.
  4. Get Moving! Exercise is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle. With a busy schedule, it’s easy to miss a few workouts here and there. Consider these options to incorporate more movement into your day: walk or bike to work, do a quick 10 minute exercise at your desk, walk in place while watching television, or download a few quick and short workout videos from YouTube.

4 Tips for Meeting Your Health Goals

Posted in The Baker Beacon

As the New Year begins, we all find ourselves setting goals. Too often, however, we give up on our goals before the year is even over. So, we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to help you reach your 2017 health and fitness goals!

    1. Make a Plan. You may have goals in mind, but you’ll need a road map to get there. Brainstorm your goals and write down clear steps towards accomplishing them. Think of it like mile markers on your way to finishing a marathon. Is your goal to exercise 3 times a week? Start with the goal of walking once a week.
    2. Find an App. Let technology be a part of your 2017 goals. There are several apps out there that can track your activity and your eating habits. You can also find apps that offer workout videos and online training partners to help motivate you. Plus, a little healthy competition never hurt anyone.
    3. Choose an Interesting Activity. Exercising can be hard enough to fit in your schedule. If it’s an activity that keeps you interested, you’re more likely to make time for it. If running really isn’t your thing, consider a cycling class, kick boxing, or even a dance class.
    4. Build a Support Team. The truth is you’re not going to meet all your goals on your own. Along the way, you’ll need friends, family members, or trainers to encourage you and inspire you when the going gets tough. Find a friend with similar goals and workout together. Or, consider joining a group that will motivate you.

Let’s work towards a healthier 2017 together!

Equipment Spotlight: ProPrio 5000

Posted in Equipment Spotlight, The Baker Beacon

At both The Center for Integrative Rehabilitation in Germantown, Maryland and the Brain and Balance Center in Frederick, Maryland, we have some incredible equipment that we’d like to introduce to you.  Over next few months, you’ll see them highlighted in our “Equipment Spotlight” as we share just what makes each piece so special.

Today, we’d like you to meet the ProPrio 5000

Dr. John Baker and Sue Paul recently had the opportunity to visit the Baltimore Ravens UnderArmour Training Center, and that’s where they met the PROPRIO 5000. It was love at first sight.

Here at the Brain and Balance Center, we like to call it “The Bull”.

This bellowing bull is comprised of a 36-inch diameter platform that can tilt as far as 25 degrees in any direction and at varying speeds. At the same time, a Dynamic Motion Analysis is used to measure the user’s center of mass movement. This computerized, programmable, multi-directional, multi-speed platform can be used for both reactive and anticipatory balance training.

In other words, this machine helps your balance during everyday tasks like walking or climbing stairs and in unexpected events like slipping or losing your balance. With the help of the ProPrio 5000, your balance, posture, strength and mobility can improve following an orthopedic or neurological injury.

For more information on the ProPrio 5000 and all of its applications visit us at

Staying Steady

Posted in The Baker Beacon

Staying Steady: Balance Problems and Treatment

It’s estimated that at any given moment, 6.2 million American adults struggle with a chronic problem of balance, dizziness, or both. And, the problem only increases with age.

Effective balance involved comfortably controlling and maintaining your body’s position when walking, climbing stairs, standing, or even sitting.

This grand balancing act is no easy process! It requires your muscles to work smoothly with several sensory systems. Any interruption or issue in any of these systems can lead to dizziness, loss of balance, and falls.

  • Vision: Eyes send impulses to the brain that provide visual cues identifying how a person is oriented relative to other objects.
  • Somatic System: With any movement of the legs, arms, and other body parts, sensory receptors respond by sending impulses to the brain. These impulses help our brain determine where our body is in space.
  • Auditory System: Nerve signals from your inner ear are sent to the brain with more information about your body’s motion, equilibrium, and spatial orientation.

As we grow older, these systems also weaken. Our eyesight fades and our muscles ability to sense surroundings declines. So, balance problems can come from a variety of physical and neurological issues.

The good news, however, is that balance problems aren’t something you just have to live with.

Depending on the cause, your doctor can prescribe a variety of treatments including diet and lifestyle changes, balances retraining exercises, medication, or even cognitive behavioral therapy.

At Baker Rehab Group, we provide balance treatment through physical therapy.

Under the guidance of our trained professionals, patients participate in exercises that involve specific movements of the head and body. These exercises teach the brain and body how to compensate for any weaknesses helping reduce the effects of balance problems. Contact Baker Rehab Group’s Brain & Balance Center to learn more about our treatment options.

Equipment Spotlight: The NeuroCom Balance System

Posted in Equipment Spotlight

This spiffy piece of equipment works primarily on balance and mobility training. Assisting with both injury assessment and rehabilitation exercises, the NeuroCom is ideal for concussion management, fall prevention, neurorehabilitation, and vestibular training.

The NeuroCom Balance System is comprised of a fixed 18″x 60″ force plate that measures the force exerted by the patients’ feet as they sift their weight. There are 15 standardized assessments that measure balance, gaze stability, weight bearing, and limits of stability. The force plate and the assessments work together to evaluate and strengthen each individual’s stability and balance limits.

NeuroCom’s advanced computerized assessment tools differentiate among the sensor and motor impairments that contribute to balance problems and limit patients’ daily activities, including:

  • Ineffective use of vestibular, somatosensory, and/or visual inputs to postural balance control.
  • Ineffective use of vestibular and visual systems for gaze control.
  • Delayed, weak, and/or asymmetric automatic motor responses.
  • Impaired center of gravity alignment and control.
  • Impaired planning and coordination of weight transfers.

And, don’t forget the games! Individuals are able to improve balance through various games and challenges. Finding your stability and balance limits, and improving them, is fun!

For further details on the NeuroCom Balance System, visit us at

Healthy Habits for the Holidays

Posted in The Baker Beacon

Staying healthy during the holidays is tough! There are so many holiday parties with friends, family, and coworkers that often involve late nights and lots of good food. While the parties can be full of fun, they usually leave us a little sleep-deprived and carrying a few extra pound by the time it’s all said and done. We want to see you stay fit and feeling well, so we’ve put together three healthy habits to keep in mind this holiday season.

  1. Plan Ahead: When headed to an event or party, eat something high in protein before you go. You’ll feel fuller longer, helping you make wiser eating decisions. Decide how much food you want to eat before you pile it on to your plate, and if you feel full, stop eating. When you’re not at parties, make an extra effort to eat healthier. Eating fruit in the morning and a salad for lunch will give you room to indulge a little at dinner.
  2. Get Enough Sleep: Sleep is an important necessity and too little of it can be dangerous. Sleep deprivation can cause accidents, injuries, contribute to weight gain, and lower immunity. If you have an early morning or late night coming up, consider going to bed early the night before. Winter cat naps are also a great way to catch up on sleep. Drink a cup of hot coffee or tea right before your nap, and you’ll wake up 20 minutes later rather than 2-3 hours later.
  3. Stay Active: Stay committed to your exercise routine. Don’t let late nights keep you from your morning workout. You can also sneak in exercise by using the stairs, walking a few blocks instead of getting a cab, or parking further away from store entrances. Find ways to work out as a family with a game of touch football, soccer, or an evening stroll around the neighborhood. Getting your heart rate up more often means you’ll feel less bad about a missed workout.

Stay committed to staying fit this holiday season and you might come out of it feeling and looking better than you did going in!


3 Gifts to Get the Therapists in Your Life This Christmas

Posted in The Baker Beacon

1. T-Shirts

Who doesn’t love t-shirts? Help the therapist in your life show off how much they love what they do!

Physical Therapy Shirt from ZazzleSpeech Therapy Onesie from EtsyOccupational Therapist Shirt from Zazzle

2. Artwork and Prints

Every office could use a little more color. Consider purchasing one of these therapy inspired prints. Patients and visitors will enjoy them for many years to come.

Physical Therapy Inspired PrintSpeech Therapy Inspired PrintPhysical Therapy Inspired Print

3. Travel Gear

For the therapist that is always on the go, consider one of these three fun options: PT-Themed water bottle, 100 Year of OT lunch cooler, or a silly speech therapy mug.

Physical Therapy Inspired Water BottleOT Inspired LunchboxSpeech Therapy Inspired Coffee Mug


Staying Active: Home Exercises for the Winter

Posted in The Baker Beacon

Workout routines don’t often survive the winter. With cold weather, snow, and short days, it’s not really a surprise. It’s hard to get to the gym when you’d much rather be at home with hot cocoa, warm blankets, and maybe even a fire in the fireplace.

This year, don’t let winter ruin your plans! We’ve put together 5 exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home.

  1. Jump Rope. Find an old jump rope or buy a cheap one. Jump roping is a great way to get moving! Plus, you don’t need a big space to do it in.
  2. Stairs. Walk up and down them during commercial breaks of your favorite shows. If you don’t have access to stairs, grab you biggest book or a steady chair and start stepping up and down. Put on your favorite radio station to give more inspiration.
  3. The Plank. Looking to strengthen your core? Then this is the exercise for you! Get in pushup position and hold it for 30 seconds each day (or as long as you can). If you’re feeling good, try holding it for an additional 10 seconds.
  4. Jumping Jacks. This one might remind you a little of elementary school but is a great cardio workout. Do a round of jumping jacks during those commercial breaks, too.
  5. DANCE! Get your favorite upbeat music on your radio, computer, phone, etc. and start dancing. Get your heart rate going as you waltz, salsa, or spin around your house. The best part? You can pull out all of your crazy dance moves because no one but your family is watching.

Not a big fan of these workouts? Check out! You can access many home workouts and find the one that fits you and your schedule best. Most importantly, just get moving!

Stroke Recovery: How Therapy Can Help

Posted in The Baker Beacon

Nearly 800,000 Americans suffer from a stroke each year.[1]

That leaves many survivors with the tough task of relearning. They have to start parts of their life over as they work on walking, talking, and even processing and remembering as they once did. And, it leaves many family members and loved ones with the challenge of taking this journey with them.

The good news, though, is that there are many caring and capable people willing to help. Physical, occupational, and speech therapists all play an important role in the relearning process.

The damage suffered from a stroke can vary from patient to patient. Each stroke looks different based on how much damage occurred and what part of the brain was affected.[2] Stroke survivors face a variety of problems including pain, numbness, or muscle weakness. These can lead to difficulties with sense of touch and difficulties with swallowing and eating. Problems with language and thinking are very common as well.

Therapy helps patients regain their independence and their ability to take care of themselves. Here are a few ways in which the individual therapies can help recovery after a stroke.

Speech Therapy

Stroke survivors may develop aphasia. They’ll have difficulty speaking, finding words, and understanding what others are saying. Speech therapists use repetition and reading and writing exercises to help survivors learn how to communicate.[3]

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists help with any movement problems. They use exercises and activities to help survivors regain strength, coordination, balance, and control.[4]

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists help survivors relearn self-care skills. They focus on daily activities such as bathing, getting dresses, eating and cooking.

The biggest key to success: don’t give up hope! Recovery from stroke is often a long process. Some skills come back quickly and others take more hard work and more time. But, improvements and growth can come even years into the recovery process.