Navigation Links
APTA Supports Surgeon General's 'Call to Action' to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism

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

"Simple exercise can help prevent other typical symptoms experienced by people who fly, including leg cramping, toe cramping, and general lower-body aching," says former APTA President Marilyn Moffat, PT, PhD, DPT. "Sitting still for long periods may lead to swelling of the feet, which becomes obvious to many passengers when they try to put their shoes back on at the end of their flight," Moffat says.

APTA suggests that passengers not stay seated for the duration of the flight and recommends that passengers walk up and down the aisle of the plane every hour or so to work the leg muscles and ease the back -- that is, if the captain has turned off the "Fasten Seat Belt" sign.

"Performing these exercises will keep the leg muscles from contracting and will help relieve stiffness during the flight. The exercises also will help prevent fluid build-up in the legs, and stretching the back and the muscles around the torso will prevent stiffening," says Moffat. Moffat notes that if you have an existing back problem, appropriate guidance should be given to you by your physical therapist before any extensive flying.

"Sitting in such a cramped position also puts a lot of stress on the lower back, especially for people who have pre-existing back problems. If you have brought along hand luggage or a rolling case that fits under the seat, use them as foot rests to elevate your feet so that your knees are slightly higher than your hips when you are sitting," suggests Moffat.

Another consideration while flying is the dehydration that occurs from the high altitudes at which planes fly and the dry, pressurized cabin air. These conditions may lead to muscle cramping and aching, so APTA advises passengers to drink plenty of water before and during the flight.

For people who are post-operative, physical therapists can help patients return to physical activity as soon as possible in order to help prevent occurrence of a DVT.

Physical therapists are health care professionals who diagnose and manage individuals of all ages, from newborns to elders, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Physical therapists examine each individual and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapists also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

APTA ( is a national organization representing physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students nationwide. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapist education, practice, and research. Consumers can visit to find a physical therapist in their area, as well as for physical therapy news and information.


1) Aryal KR, Al-Khaffaf H. Venous thromboembolic complications following air travel: what's the quantitative risk? A literature review. Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2006;31:187-99.

2) Scurr JH, Machin SJ, Bailey-King S, Mackie IJ, McDonald S, Smith PD. Frequency and prevention of symptomless deep-vein thrombosis in long-haul flights: a randomised trial. Lancet. 2001;357:1485-9.

SOURCE American Physical Therapy Association
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

Related medicine technology :

1. New Study Supports Efficacy of Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression
2. Cell Therapeutics, Inc. (CTI) Supports Panel Discussion on Women and Lung Cancer on Capitol Hill
3. Survival Data in FDA Approval for ERBITUX(R) (Cetuximab) Supports use as a Single Agent in Patients with Advanced Colorectal Cancer
4. Cost-Effectiveness Study Supports Use of EUFLEXXA(TM) by Rheumatologists for Pain Relief in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis
5. New Data from the Framingham Heart Study Supports PAT Technology to Diagnose Early Cardiovascular Disease
6. Powerful New Efficacy Data in Moderate and Severe Hypertensive Patients Supports FDA Approval of AVALIDE(R) (Irbesartan-Hydrochlorothiazide) as the First Combination Therapy for Initial Use in Patients Likely to Need Multiple Drugs to Achieve Their Blood
7. Interim Safety Analysis Supports Continuation of Allos Therapeutics Pivotal Phase 2 PROPEL Trial of PDX in Patients with Peripheral T-cell Lymphoma
8. Interim Analysis Supports Continuation of Cell Genesys VITAL-1 Phase 3 Clinical Trial of GVAX Immunotherapy for Prostate Cancer
9. FDA Advisory Committee Supports Efficacy and Safety of Zyprexa(R) Long-Acting Injection (LAI) for Schizophrenia Treatment
10. HUYA Bioscience Intl Announces Clinical Trial Milestones in China for Promising New Anti-Arrhythmic Compound; Data Supports Desirable Safety Profile
11. New Clinical Data Further Supports Chromium Picolinates Role in Enhancing Brain Activity in Older Adults
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015  The American Academy ... Gynecologists (ACOG), and the March of Dimes cheered ... Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015 (S.799), ... of newborns born exposed to drugs, such as ... bill,s introduction, all three organizations have worked together ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015 On Tuesday, November ... bellwether trial against Wright Medical Technology, Inc. for ... Conserve metal-on-metal hip implant device, awarded $11 million ... two week trial and three days of deliberations, ... device was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous, and ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... November 25, 2015 Kitov Pharma ... (TASE: KTOV), a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development ... clinical conditions, today announced the closing of its previously ... ( ADSs ), each representing 20 ordinary shares of ... ADSs. The ADSs and warrants were issued in a ...
Breaking Medicine Technology:
(Date:11/27/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... Dr. ... Medical Associates, Inc. and Dr. Tucker Bierbaum with Emergency Medicine at St., ... observed that both STEMI and Sepsis conditions present in similar ways and require time-critical ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... , ... Inevitably when people think Thanksgiving, they also think Holiday sales and ... Friday and Cyber Monday massage chair sales to receive the best pricing ... to find the best massage chair deals, they can see all of the coupons ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... ... Jobs in hospital medical laboratories and in the imaging field lead the many ... Medical Group . These fields, as well as travel nursing, ranked at ... through the company’s website, , The leading healthcare staffing agency released ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... ... for mental health and wellness consultation, has collaborated with Women’s Web – ... their reader’s queries on topics on mental and emotional well-being relationship, life ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... , ... The holiday season is jam-packed with family dinners, ... attendees is of the utmost importance. Whether you are cooking at home for ... a try this holiday season. , Turkey Croquettes ,     Ingredients: , ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):