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It is time to celebrate the 4TH of July with some fun in the sun…but don’t forget to protect your skin! A little awareness and some precautions can go a long way to make this holiday weekend safer!

Despite the fact that we have limited exposure to sunny days in NEPA (50%), skin cancer still exists in large numbers. Skin cancer is the most common cause of cancer in the United States. While there are several types of skin cancer and not necessarily all are deadly, procedures to remove these skin cancers are both costly and frequently result in unsightly scars. The most dangerous type of skin cancer, called melanoma, results in an estimated 10,000 deaths per year. The good news? Nearly all skin cancers are preventable!

UV rays and Skin Cancer

The majority of skin cancers are caused by harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Two major types are UVA and UVB:

Aging

In the field of anti-aging, advertisers make lofty promises for many products that claim to contain or boost collagen. Whether or not these work is a whole other discussion, but what is collagen and what does it have to do with wrinkles?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is found in nearly all tissues and organs, and plays a crucial role in maintaining structural integrity. Unfortunately, collagen production naturally decreases with age. This causes many of the findings we associate with older age, such as sagging skin and wrinkles, as well as joint pain. Collagen also works together with another important protein called elastin, which helps to maintain elasticity – a feature commonly associated with youthful skin.

When exposed to UV rays, these proteins can become damaged. For instance, studies have shown that skin exposed to UV rays increases the expression of proteins called matrix metalloproteinases, or MMPs. You can think of these MMPs as collagen’s enemy, as they cause their degradation. This results in a decrease in collagen’s structural function leading to loose and wrinkled skin. UV rays can also stimulate the production of reactive oxygen species. These are substances such as hydrogen peroxide and bleach, which further cause destruction of skin’s microscopic structure.

Sunscreen Tips & Tricks

So, you’re convinced and have decided to keep your skin healthy and youthful – what next? With so many different products on the market, choosing a daily sunscreen can become a difficult task. Here are a few pointers:

Sunscreen – Chemical vs. Physical Blockers

Another consideration when choosing a sunscreen is chemical versus physical blockers:

If preventing skin cancer isn’t incentive enough to wear sunscreen daily and avoid excessive sun exposure (and indoor tanning booths!), then consider the rapid effects on aging the sun’s rays can have. While a tan may look good for a week, avoiding exposure to UV rays will both delay and prevent aging for years.

For more information on skin cancer and prevention, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s website (https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/) and contact your physician for specific concerns regarding spots on your skin.

Guest Contributor: Eduardo Ortiz, MD, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine 2018

NEXT WEEK! Read Dr. Mackarey’s Health & Exercise Forum – every Monday. This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's Articles. check out our exercise forum!

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Due in great part to improved awareness and advances in treatment and early diagnosis, the survival rate continues to improve. The American Cancer Society relies on information from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database to provide survival statistics for different forms of cancer.

While the overall 5-year survival rate for breast cancer is 90% and the 10-year survival rate is 84%, the survival rate for those fortunate to have early detection and treatment is even more encouraging. For example, when breast cancer is determined to be “localized” (no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast), the 5-year survival rate improves to 99%! AWARENESS AND EARLY DETECTION ARE CRITICAL!

BREAST CANCER PREVENTION TIPS

Maintain Healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) – studies repeatedly show that obesity increases the risk of breast cancer. A healthy BMI for women falls between 18.5 and 24.9. To find out your BMI visit: www.calculator.net

Maintain a Healthy Diet – the Mediterranean Diet emphasizes plant-based foods such as vegetables, beans, whole grain, fruits, nuts and seeds, and plant-based oils, especially olive oil. Avoid sugared drinks, refined carbs and fatty foods and eat fish or chicken instead of red meat. 

Limit Alcohol Consumption – While no alcohol consumption may be optimal, up to one drink a day for women is acceptable.

Avoid or Limit Hormone Replacement Therapy – Studies show that menopausal hormone therapy increases the risk of breast cancer. For those who must take hormones to manage menopausal symptoms, limit the time period to less than three years and avoid progesterone.

Consider Estrogen-Blocking Drugs – For women with a family history of breast cancer or those over 60, consulting your physician about the pros and cons of these drugs.

Do Not Smoke – Studies show that smoking increases the risk of breast cancer.  Visit: smokefree.gov for help with smoking cessation.

Breast Feed – According to the scientific literature, women who breast feed for at least a year in total have less risk of developing breast cancer. So, breast feed as long as possible.

Participate in Research – What can you do to help? Participate in clinical trials studying new and more effective ways to detect and treat breast cancer. Visit the National Cancer Institute

Limit - Manage Stress - According to a recent long-term study, both men and women have a higher incidence of cancer in those who did not manage chronic stress well. Life is full of potential stress and it cannot be avoided. But, you can learn to handle stress better. Exercise, meditation, and counseling are some options to explore. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) videos.

Exercise – A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association from Harvard has found that regular exercise can improve the survival of patients with breast cancer.

Benefits of exercise in women with breast cancer:

Current research supports the fact that exercise may not only prevent, but also improve breast cancer survival.  The following guidelines are proposed:

Source: Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit our Health and Wellness Page!

Lung Cancer is a deadly disease. Until recently, a chest X-ray, often used only after patients developed symptoms, discovered the disease when it was in its late stages. Over the past few years, however,  an effective and safe screening test has been developed and those who are at high risk for lung cancer can now be screened annually using low-dose spiral CT scans.

Lung Cancer Facts:

FACT 1: Each year over 250,000 people in the United States are newly diagnosed with lung cancer.

FACT 2:  90% of individuals who have lung cancer will eventually die of the disease, making lung cancer the most deadly cancer in the United States for both men and women. 

FACTS 3:  85% of all lung cancers are caused by smoking.

FACT 4:  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 22% of people aged 18 years and older residing in Northeastern, PA smoke.  

FACT 5: The best prevention measures are; not smoking or using tobacco products, and avoid second-hand smoke or high air pollution environments.

One of the reasons for the high mortality rate in lung cancer is that the disease is often not discovered until it is advanced and treatment options are limited. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of lung cancer are easily mistaken either for a mild illness or for things such as “smoker’s cough”.  By the time many patients are diagnosed, their disease is advanced and may involve lymph nodes or other organs. 

For some cancers, there are established screening tests that help to identify these cancers at an earlier stage.  For example, routine screenings through colonoscopies, mammograms, and pap smears are well established and have saved thousands of lives.  Historically, lung cancer has not had such a screening test. This however, is about to change. This past summer, the United States Preventative Task Force (USPTF), an independent committee charged by congress to evaluate the most current data and make recommendations for disease screening, released a draft of a new proposal for a lung cancer screening test.

The USPTF now recommends that all persons who are at high risk for lung cancer should be screened annually using low-dose spiral CT scans.  High risk persons are identified as those who are between the ages of 55 and 79, who have a history of 30 pack years or more of smoking, and who are either still smoking or who have quit within the last 15 years.  A “pack year” is defined as smoking 1 pack of cigarettes a day for a year. For example, a person could have 30 pack years of smoking if they smoke 1 pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years.  Similarly, they could have a 30 pack year history by smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 15 years.

CT, or computed tomography, scans are a form of three-dimensional imaging used by clinicians to visualize the organs and other anatomy of patients.  The scan can detect abnormalities on a patient’s lung with much earlier and with greater sensitivity than an x-ray.  Much like a mammogram, low-dose CT scans do not diagnose cancer but are a way to identify patients with abnormalities that need to be investigated further for the possibility of cancer.  This new screening test will allow physicians to see possibly cancerous abnormalities of the lung before the disease can spread and become impossible to cure.  The scan is non-invasive and generally considered very safe. Low-dose CT scans carry about 5 times less radiation than traditional high-dose CT scans and are equivalent to about 15 x-rays.

It is projected that this new screening practice will save the lives of between 15 and 20% of those diagnosed with lung cancer by detecting cancers before they can progress to the point that they are resistant to medical treatment.  The draft of the new proposal for lung cancer screening that the USPTF released this summer was based off of a landmark article in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2011. Once the final document is published, clinicians will be encouraged to adopt these screening practices and insurance companies will use these recommendations to adopt their policies regarding coverage for testing.

While this screening is a major step in the detection and treatment of lung cancer, it is not a substitute for quitting smoking.  The best proven methods to prevent lung cancer and its deadly consequences is to not smoke, use other tobacco products, and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.

If you or a loved one need help quitting tobacco products, you may contact your physician or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.lung.org.  For more information on the new lung cancer screening guidelines visit: www.cdc.gov

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer:

NOTE: These signs and symptoms can be attributed to many different causes and are not exclusive to lung cancer. Always discuss your symptoms with your physician.

Who should be included in annual low-dose spiral CT screening for lung cancer?

Patients who fit all of the below criteria:

*A pack year is defined as 1 pack of cigarettes per day for a year

Medical Contributor: Sarah Bashaw, MD is a graduate of TCMC (presently GCSOM).

Medical Reviewer: Greg Cali, DO, Pulmonologist, Dunmore, PA

Read “Health & Exercise Forum” – Every Monday.  This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor  in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit: mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum/

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there is good news to report!

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association from Harvard has found that regular exercise can improve the survival of patients with breast cancer. I have discussed these findings with local physician, Dr. Christopher Peters of Northeast Radiation Oncology Center and he says that he regularly councils his patients about the value of exercise in the recovery from breast cancer. As found in the study, he recommends aerobic exercise such as walking and/or biking and mild resistance exercise. He also encourages patients to enroll in a formal rehabilitation program, especially to prevent a frozen shoulder if invasive surgery was performed.

Previous studies have shown many benefits of exercise for breast cancer patients including improving immune functioning and controlling depression. However, new research recently presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting was the first report to conclude that physical exercise may improve survival in breast cancer patients. Additional studies have shown other benefits of exercise. For example, a study conducted at Vanderbilt University found that women who had high activity levels throughout life were less likely to develop endometrial cancer. At the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, researchers found that exercise with moderate intensity can reduce serum markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein), which, when elevated, are associated with chronic disease and poor cancer survival.

In the current study, conducted at Harvard University, researchers compared survival rates in women with breast cancer with exercise levels in terms of metabolic equivalent (MET) hours per week. While women with high activity levels of exercise had the best outcomes, even women with moderate exercise benefited.

Benefits of exercise in women with breast cancer:

  • May increase breast cancer survival
  • Lessen risk of endometrial cancer
  • Improved C-reactive protein levels
  • Improve autoimmune function
  • Control Depression
  • Psycho-Social

In conclusion, current research supports the fact that exercise may improve breast cancer survival.  The following guidelines are proposed:

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Exercise is Important in Prevention

In 2000, President Bill Clinton dedicated March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The purpose of this designation is to increase public awareness of the facts about colon cancer – a cancer that is preventable, treatable and has a high survival rate. Regular screening tests, expert medical care and a healthy lifestyle, which includes a proper diet and exercise, are essential for prevention. Several studies have demonstrated that exercise can also help prevent colon cancer. 

The American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be approximately 150,000 new cases of colorectal cancer in 2021. Of these, 52,980 men and women will succumb to the disease. It is the second-leading cause of U.S. cancer deaths for both men and women combined. The good news is incidence and mortality rates are dropping both nationally as well as in northeast Pennsylvania. The bad news is northeast Pennsylvania still has increased incidence and mortality rates when compared to the national average.

The Research

Studies show that prevention of this disease is multifaceted and includes: engaging in daily exercise, eating a low-fat diet with little red meat, avoiding smoking, drinking in moderation and having regular colonoscopy screenings.

Catch It Early

Early detection is the key to survival. Death from colorectal cancer can be eliminated if caught at the earliest signs of disease. Colorectal cancer progresses very slowly, usually over years. It often begins as non-cancerous polyps in the lining of the colon. In some cases, these polyps can grow and become cancerous, often without any symptoms. Some symptoms that may develop are: blood in stool, changes in bowel movement, feeling bloated, unexplained weight loss, feeling tired easily, abdominal pain or cramps, and vomiting. Contact your physician if you have any of these symptoms.

The risk of colon cancer increases with age, as 90 percent of those diagnosed are older than age 50. A family history of colon cancer increases risk. Also, those with benign polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease are at greater risk and should be screened more frequently.

Prevention of Colon Cancer:

How Exercise Prevents Colon Cancer:

The intestine works like a sewage plant, recycling the food and liquid needed by your body. However, it also stores waste prior to disposal. The longer the wastes remain idle in your colon or rectum, the more time toxins have to be absorbed from you waste into the surrounding tissues. One method in which exercise may help prevent colon cancer is to get your body moving, including your intestines. Exercise stimulates muscular contraction called peristalsis to promote movement of waste through your colon.

Exercise to prevent colon cancer does not have to be extreme. A simple increase in daily activity for 15 minutes, two times per day or 30 minutes, once per day is adequate to improve the movement of waste through your colon. This can be simply accomplished by walking, swimming, biking or playing golf, tennis or basketball. For those interested in a more traditional exercise regimen, perform aerobic exercise for 30-45 minutes four to five days per week, with additional sports and activities for the remainder of the time. For those in poor physical condition, begin slowly. Start walking for five to 10 minutes, two to three times per day. Then, add one to two minutes each week until you attain a 30-45 minute goal. 

Medical Contributor: Christopher A. Peters, M.D

Dr. Christopher Peters is a partner of Radiation Medicine Associates of Scranton (RAMAS) and serves as medical director of Northeast Radiation Oncology Centers (NROC). He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Sources: American Cancer Society/Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, and CA Cancer J Clin.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment.

If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician.

For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit: https://mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum/

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Lung Cancer is a deadly disease. Until recently, there was not an effective and safe screening test. A chest X-ray, often used only after patients developed symptoms, discovered the disease when it was in its late stages. This is about to change. Those who are at high risk for lung cancer can now be screened annually using low-dose spiral CT scans

Lung Cancer Facts:

FACT 1: In 2019 over 225,000 people in the United States were newly diagnosed with lung cancer (615 people/day).

FACT 2:  90% of individuals who have lung cancer will eventually die of the disease, making lung cancer the deadliest cancer in the United States for both men and women (19% 5-year survival rate). 

FACTS 3:  85% of all lung cancers are caused by smoking.

FACT 4:  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 22% of people aged 18 years and older residing in Northeastern, PA smoke.  

FACT 5: The best prevention measures are not smoking or using tobacco products and avoid second-hand smoke or high air pollution environments.

One of the reasons for the high mortality rate in lung cancer is that the disease is often not discovered until it is advanced and treatment options are limited. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of lung cancer are easily mistaken either for a mild illness or for things such as “smoker’s cough”.  By the time many patients are diagnosed, their disease is advanced and may involve lymph nodes or other organs. 

For some cancers, there are established screening tests that help to identify these cancers at an earlier stage.  For example, routine screenings through colonoscopies, mammograms, and pap smears are well established and have saved thousands of lives.  Until recently, lung cancer has not had such a screening test.

In 2013, The United States Preventative Task Force (USPTF), an independent committee charged by congress to evaluate current data, recommended that all persons who are at high risk for lung cancer should be screened annually using low-dose spiral CT scans.  High risk persons are identified as those who are between the ages of 55 and 79, who have a history of 30 pack years or more of smoking, and who are either still smoking or who have quit within the last 15 years.  A “pack year” is defined as smoking 1 pack of cigarettes a day for a year. For example, a person could have 30 pack years of smoking if they smoke 1 pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years.  Similarly, they could have a 30-pack year history by smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 15 years.

CT, or computed tomography, scans are a form of three-dimensional imaging used by clinicians to visualize the organs and other anatomy of patients.  The scan can detect abnormalities on a patient’s lung with much earlier and with greater sensitivity than an x-ray.  Much like a mammogram, low-dose CT scans do not diagnose cancer but are a way to identify patients with abnormalities that need to be investigated further for the possibility of cancer.  This new screening test will allow physicians to see possibly cancerous abnormalities of the lung before the disease can spread and become impossible to cure.  The scan is non-invasive and generally considered very safe. Low-dose CT scans carry about 5 times less radiation than traditional high-dose CT scans and are equivalent to about 15 x-rays.

This screening practice can save the lives of between 15 and 20% of those diagnosed with lung cancer by detecting cancers before they can progress to the point that they are resistant to medical treatment. While this screening is a major step in the detection and treatment of lung cancer, it is not a substitute for quitting smoking.  The best proven methods to prevent lung cancer and its deadly consequences is to not smoke, use other tobacco products, and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke. If you or a loved one need help quitting tobacco products, you may contact your physician or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.lung.org.

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer:

NOTE: These signs and symptoms can be attributed to many different causes and are not exclusive to lung cancer. Always discuss your symptoms with your physician.

Who should be included in annual low-dose spiral CT screening for lung cancer?

Patients who fit all of the below criteria:

*A pack year is defined as 1 pack of cigarettes per day for a year

Contributions: Sarah Bashaw, MD: participated in this column as a third year medical student while studying at TCMC (GCSOM).

Medical Reviewer: Greg Cali, DO, Pulmonologist, Dunmore, PA

Read “Health & Exercise Forum” – Every Monday.  This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor  in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

Read all of Dr. Mackarey articles in our Health Care Forum at: https://mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum/

💥💥This week in “Health & Exercise Forum “Lower Blood Pressure with Tia Chi!” by Dr. Paul Mackarey in “The Scranton Times Tribune”💥💥 
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“For those with prehypertension or hypertension and are unable to tolerate the repetitive and prolonged weight bearing stresses of running, walking or cycling, these results have tremendous implications. The slow, gentle and controlled movements and positions of Tai Chi coupled with controlled breathing and meditation may be a valuable alternative.”
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✨✨For full article visit mackareyphysicaltherapy.com or click the link in the bio✨✨

#physio #physiotherapy #physicaltherapy #rehab #exercise #getPTfirst #exercisescience #manualtherapy #kinesiology #dptstudent #fitness #injuryprevention #move #movement #movementmedicine #scranton #electriccity #nepa #orthopedic #scrantontimes #timestribune
💥💥This week in “Health & Exercise Forum “Cycling: Prevent Exercise Ruts: PART 2!” by Dr. Paul Mackarey in “The Times Tribune”💥💥 
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 It is essential to reassess and update your program to prevent stagnation. 
Make sure the routine has all three fundamental components of a well-balanced exercise program; cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training. Moreover, to be truly healthy, one must work toward a “Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit. Therefore, in addition to traditional exercise one must incorporate the following: nutrition; meditation, relaxation techniques, yoga, core fitness; functional/sports specific training; leisure sports and activities
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✨✨For full article visit mackareyphysicaltherapy.com or click the link in the bio✨✨

#physio #physiotherapy #physicaltherapy #rehab #exercise #getPTfirst #exercisescience #manualtherapy #kinesiology #dptstudent #fitness #injuryprevention #move #movement #movementmedicine #scranton #electriccity #nepa #orthopedic #scrantontimes #timestribune
💥💥This week in “Health & Exercise Forum “How to Prevent Exercise Ruts!” by Dr. Paul Mackarey in “The Times Tribune”💥💥 
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 The purpose of this column will be to offer suggestions on how to improve or get more out of a “stale” exercise program. Step one is to build an exercise program that is grounded in the basics. Step two, which begins after the basics have been mastered, includes the components necessary for a healthy mind, body and spirit connection and translates into functional activities of daily living including work and leisure sports.
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✨✨For full article visit mackareyphysicaltherapy.com or click the link in the bio✨✨
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#physio #physiotherapy #physicaltherapy #rehab #exercise #getPTfirst #exercisescience #manualtherapy #kinesiology #dptstudent #fitness #injuryprevention #move #movement #movementmedicine #scranton #electriccity #nepa #orthopedic #scrantontimes #timestribune
💥💥This week in “Health & Exercise Forum “Cycling: Tips For Cancer Prevention!” by Dr. Paul Mackarey in “The Times Tribune”💥💥 
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 February is National Cancer Prevention Month and March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Unfortunately, according to a study conducted by Northeast Regional Cancer Institute (NRCI), our area has a higher rate of cancer compared to the rest of the United States. Residents of NEPA must be vigilant!
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✨✨For full article visit mackareyphysicaltherapy.com or click the link in the bio✨✨
▪️
#physio #physiotherapy #physicaltherapy #rehab #exercise #getPTfirst #exercisescience #manualtherapy #kinesiology #dptstudent #fitness #injuryprevention #move #movement #movementmedicine #scranton #electriccity #nepa #orthopedic #scrantontimes #timestribune #cancer