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

luding 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 t
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SOURCE American Physical Therapy Association
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