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Each month, Dr. Jacques Doueck interviews community physicians about their area of expertise and gains exclusive insight for our readers’ benefit.

This month Jacques interviews physical therapists Dr. Jack Engelberg, PT, DPT and Dr. Joey Weiss, PT, DPT co-owners of Refuah Physical Therapy located at 2918 Avenue M in Brooklyn.

What is the most common disorder you see daily in patients?

I see people who exercise or engage in sports once a week and then find themselves in pain on their days off.  I call them “weekend warriors.” Our job is to give them an understanding of how to increase their muscles’ workload without causing damage or pain.

Which injuries are most commonly experienced by runners or joggers?

 Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) – when the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh, from the hip to the shin, becomes tight or inflamed. The IT band attaches to the kneeand helps stabilize and move the joint and is a common area of soreness for people. We also see pain descend over the knee cap.

What about torn cartilage in the knee?

This sort of damage can only be determined by an MRI. Since the meniscus has a poor blood supply, it doesn’t heal well. Sometimes the surgeon can repair the cartilage or snip it off. One of the most effective preventive steps a person can take is to increase muscle strength around the knees.  Squats and other simple exercises takes the stress off the cartilage. Many people who have torn cartilages can still function if they take stress off the knee. Doing the right kind of stretching is also important. Stretching the wrong muscles causes imbalances in function. A customized exercise regimen and targeted physical education could change your life!

Explain the sort of injury that requires a knee replacement.

Osteoarthritis and weak muscles around the knee can result in a host of problems -- damage to the cartilage, arthritis, and eventually, “bone rubbing on bone”. The pain becomes so unbearable that you can’t walk and need knee replacement surgery.

Would a heavy ACE bandage have helped?

 For occasional pain in the knees, a neoprene sleeve does help by giving  “biofeedback” to the brain – a reminder not to overstress the knees while giving comfort at the same time. Once the pain is alleviated, a person can be weaned  off the sleeve.

How  does a physical therapist help children?

We help children with scoliosis and poor posture and we also help teenage females with headaches. We focus on educating kids and their parents on the proper way to sit and stand and perform activities such as sitting in front of a computer. We also help kids recover after a fall or a fracture. Being in a cast for four to six weeks causes muscles to atrophy and kids need our guidance to get back to full strength.  Once their doctor confirms  that the fracture is healed, we can help them regain full range of motion.

How do you help with headaches?

Your head weighs as much as a bowling ball and when it hangs forward due to poor posture it can contribute to headaches and TMJ (jaw pains). Besides teaching people the right exercises to do, we make sure that difficulty with one’s vision, or any other factor, is not contributing to forward head posture. Also, when a patient comes in limited range of motion, we can help them restore the head.

How does a person know they should see a Physical Therapist?

In the past, your PCP (family MD) or Orthopedist would make a referral based on your medical exam. But today, the law in NY State is that you can receive physical therapy treatment without a referral. When you have any of these conditions, self-referral is a very convenient course of action for those on a tight schedule.

Dr. Jack Engelberg and Dr. Joey Weiss have dealt with sports-related injuries, joint replacements, back injuries, arthritic conditions, neurological disorders, fractures, cardiac rehabilitation and pediatric pathologies.  They also have extensive experience in the treatment and training of athletes, marathon runners and triathletes. They’ve treated patients with orthopedic, musculoskeletal disorders as well as patients suffering from chronic pain and neurologic, and vestibular conditions. The PTs utilize stretching, mobilization, and soft tissue techniques to maximize the individual’s potential for success with his or her rehabilitation. The goal is always for the patient to return as soon as possible, to sports, exercise, work, and normal life.

Refuah Physical Therapy is located at 2918 Avenue M, Brooklyn, NY 11210. Tel.  (718) 252-0625