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APTA Supports Surgeon General's 'Call to Action' to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism
Date:9/25/2008

Physical Therapists Offer Tips on Preventing Possibly Life-Threatening Condition During Air Travel

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Sept. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) supports the recent "Call to Action" by Acting Surgeon General Steven K Galson, MD, MPH to reduce the number of cases of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in the United States.

According to Susan Scherer, PT, PhD, associate professor of physical therapy at Regis University in Denver and member of APTA's Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section, blood clots, called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can occur after periods of being immobile, such as on long plane flights.

Scherer notes that the risk of DVT increases during travel of 8 hours or more(1) and that an estimated 10 percent of passengers on long flights may develop a DVT(2). A clot in the legs may dislodge and travel to the lungs, called pulmonary embolus. The symptoms of leg DVT include swelling in one or both legs and tenderness in the calf. Symptoms of a pulmonary embolus include shortness of breath and a high heart rate. "People who experience any of these symptoms should always see the doctor, especially if they occur following a long period of immobilization," she says.

Compression stockings(2) are recommended to help reduce the risk of DVT. "The compression helps keep excess blood from remaining in the leg veins, helping to prevent clot formation," says Scherer. Physical therapists also suggest that when you have little room to move and stretch, do some simple, seated exercises to keep the blood flowing, the joints mobile, and the muscles relaxed while en route. The APTA "In Flight Fitness Guide," featuring a selection of recommended exercises, can be found on APTA's Consumer Web page at http://www.apta.org/consumer.

"Simple exercise can help prevent other typical symptoms experienced by people who fly, inc
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SOURCE American Physical Therapy Association
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