Make sure that you stay up to date on the latest medical trends and treatments in the Physical Therapy realm! This medical blog is here to inform and educate our patients in their rehabilitation journey for a brighter future.

Leader Times’ Report on Shoulder Lecture at Kittanning Facility

Nathan Formaini, DO - ACMH Hospital
Kelsey Cushey, DPT - Kittanning Facility Director

Experienced shoulder surgeon Dr. Nathan Formaini from ACMH Hospital is teaming up with WESTARM Physical Therapy to give a free lecture to residents of Kittanning, and surrounding Armstrong County communities who are considering shoulder surgery. The lecture is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m Sept. 21st at WESTARM’s Kittanning facility. WESTARM Kittanning Facility Director Kelsey Cushey, DPT, will join Dr. Formaini in conducting the lecture. She recently won second place in the Leader Times’ Best of the Best in 2021.

RSVP for your spot at the lecture here or by calling 724-337-6522.

Free lecture planned locally for those considering shoulder surgery

By A.J. PANIAN- Managing Editor of The Leader Times

Having grown up in Armstrong County, Dr. Nathan Formaini knows a good many people living in the area earn their respective livings through various kinds of work that can be hard on their bodies.

“The area is full of hard-working people that regardless of their orthopedic issue, ultimately just want to get better. They make excellent patients. You’re in a population that basically uses their body to earn a living,” said Formaini, a Ford City High School graduate and well-known orthopedic shoulder and elbow orthopedic surgeon since 2015 at Armstrong Orthopedic Associates.

From disorders including arthritis, rotator cuff tears and tendonitis, to sports-related injuries and fractures, Dr. Formaini treats numerous patients in the locale and also cares for many additional orthopedic issues and fractures throughout the body.

One thing he has learned is that some jobs take a heavy toll on many parts of the body, but not nearly as heavy a price as extended time off can impact a breadwinner in a household.

“When you’ve got people that are doing laborious jobs, they need their bodies to make a living and earn their money, so when they feel they need to or have to seek medical treatment, it can be a very different scenario for them — they gotta get back to work,” he said. “They tend to be more compliant, make sure they go through treatment once, and have a great outcome so they can get back to earning a living.”

Providing perspective and peace of mind to such individuals, in particular, represents one of Dr. Formaini’s prime motivations to join forces with WESTARM Physical Therapy to give a free lecture to residents of Kittanning and surrounding Armstrong County communities who are considering shoulder surgery, he said.

The lecture, which is scheduled to take place Sept. 21 at WESTARM’s Kittanning Facility11931 State Route 85, Kittanning, Pa 16201 — which is at the intersection of Route 28 and Route 85 in Indian Hills Professional Center.

It will offer those in attendance an opportunity to learn about up-to-the-minute advancements in the field of orthopedic surgery — possibly toward the end of returning them back to work sooner than they originally thought was possible, according to Dr. Formaini.

“People normally come in for evaluation in an office setting where it’s too abbreviated,” he said. “Having events like this, you can take more time to educate them and take questions while in a more relaxed setting. You can really make them feel a lot more comfortable about a lot of the unknowns — people don’t know what surgery is like — or about the issues they have or even what treatment options are available.”

Noting that some individuals put off the prospect of surgery because they simply can’t afford to take the time off work, Dr. Formaini said information that comes out of the upcoming lecture can inform attendees of updated approaches to treatment and procedural advancements that perhaps can dispel certain enduring myths.

“I think that educational events like this — I do them a lot — people that come in and they’re concerned and will say, ‘I was told I’m not going to be able to work for months.’ And you can kind of put some of those myths to bed, because there can be other options where we can get people back to work in just a few weeks.”

The rapid advances in orthopedic care changes the game every few years when it comes to what prospective patients can expect, he added.

Event to offer attendees face time with professionals

Dr. Formaini will serve as the guest speaker along with WESTARM Kittanning Facility Director Kelsey Cushey, Doctorate of Phyiscal Therapy.

“They will be discussing options for treatment of shoulder pain and other related conditions such as surgery and physical therapy,” said Patrick McClernon, marketing and communications manager, WESTARM Physical Therapy/WESTARM Home Health.

The lecture will be beneficial for anyone with shoulder/rotator cuff issues, anyone considering shoulder surgery, or even those who’ve recently had shoulder surgery, McClernon confirmed.

“Those attending can expect to learn what to expect if they’re getting shoulder surgery, how to prepare for an upcoming surgery, and also have the opportunity to ask questions or share concerns about an upcoming procedure,” he added.

The lecture will also provide a good opportunity for the community members to have face time with Dr. Formaini and Dr. Cushey and be able to ask personalized questions about their issues.

“There can be a lot of anxiety, and uncertainty that comes along with needing shoulder surgery and preparing for the therapy thereafter,” McClernon said.

WESTARM hosts the lecture series every year to help local residents through some of those concerns and help them be better prepared. View more info on the full lecture series here.

Its officials will be providing free refreshments to all in attendance.

Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by calling 724-337-6522 or by sending an email to: administration@westarmtherapy.com.

Dr. Formaini’s additional background

As per Dr. Formaini’s website — pittsburghshoulderdoc.com — he joined Armstrong Orthopedic Associates in August of 2015.

Born and raised in the Kittanning area, he graduated from Ford City High School and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh, graduating with honors.

Dr. Formaini attended the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine before completing a five-year orthopedic residency through Ohio University at Doctors’ Hospital and Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio.

He concluded his surgical training with a one-year shoulder and elbow fellowship under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Levy at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Dr. Formaini has a special interest in shoulder and elbow surgery, having completed a surgical fellowship focusing solely on complex shoulder and elbow problems.

His diagnostic skills and surgical expertise in this particular area include reverse shoulder replacement, total shoulder replacement, total elbow replacement, arthroscopic shoulder and elbow procedures, and upper extremity fracture management.

He also brings a superior level of care in the fields of general orthopedics and advanced fracture care surgery to Armstrong County and the surrounding region.

Dr. Formaini has been very active in orthopedic research and authored multiple journal publications as well as textbook chapters on various orthopedic topics.

He lectures at state, regional, and national meetings and also serves as a reviewer for research-based orthopedic journals.

Original article written by A.J. Panian, managing editor of the Leader Times.

Why Occupational Therapists Make Great Certified Hand Therapists

Hand Therapy typically addresses the biomechanical issues underlying upper-extremity conditions. However, Occupational Therapy practitioners differ from Hand Therapists by bringing an added dimension to this specialty practice. They use an occupation-based and patient-centered approach that identifies the participation needs of the patient—whatever he or she needs to be able to do in daily life that is fulfilling, necessary, and/or meaningful—and emphasizes the performance of desired activities as the primary goal of therapy.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapists ask, “What matters to you?” not, “What’s the matter with you?”

In simplest terms, Occupational Therapists (OTs) and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTAs) help people across their lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities also known as occupations. Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include:

  • An individualized evaluation during which the client/family and Occupational Therapist determine the patient’s goals.
  • A customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals.
  • An outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan.

Occupational therapy services may include comprehensive evaluations of the client’s home and other environments (e.g., workplace, school), recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers.

Hand Therapy

Hand therapy, a specialty practice area of occupational therapy, typically centers around treating orthopedic-based upper-extremity conditions to optimize the functional use of the hand and arm.

Conditions seen by a Occupational Therapist specializing in hand therapy would include, but are not limited to:

  • fractures of the hand or arm
  • lacerations
  • amputations
  • burns
  • surgical repairs of tendons and or nerves.

Acquired conditions such as tendonitis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are also treated by occupational therapy practitioners specializing in hand rehabilitation. Therapists who treat clients with conditions of the hand or arm can do so without additional formal education in most states. However, many practitioners choose to gain several years of experience before treating hand clients, and therapists may choose to become Certified Hand Therapists (CHT) through the Hand Therapy Certification Commission.

Why an Occupational Therapist Makes a good Certified Hand Therapist

An Occupational Therapist makes a great Certified Hand Therapist with the understanding of functional daily activities involving the hand, awareness of occupational job demands, and extensive knowledge of injuries/impairments and the rehabilitation of the hand and upper extremity. Occupational Therapists specialize in getting patients back to the activities that they need to do and want to do.  Many of those activities do require the use of their hands.  OT’s training to break down an activity step by step allows us to effectively assess what our patient’s specific needs are. There is a level of commitment required to obtain and maintain a Certified Hand Therapist Certification (CHT) which places a strong demand for continued education. The extra training and knowledge of anatomy required to obtain the CHT credential sets the OT/CHT up for a great balance of assessing the patient’s specific needs and goals while having an intricate knowledge of where to begin to get them moving toward those goals.

Schedule an Appointment with one of our experienced Occupational/Hand therapists today


Cheswick & Sarver


Lower Burrell


Leechburg & Kittanning 

Why Find a Physical Therapist for Parkinson’s?


Physical therapists can be helpful at all stages of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Movement impairments in the initial stages of the disease are not always obvious. By not engaging a physical therapist with a neurological specialization as part of their medical team, people with Parkinson’s often miss the window of opportunity to address these impairments early. Talk to your doctor about getting a baseline physical therapy evaluation and then continue with periodic re-evaluations.

According to the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, the largest clinical study of Parkinson’s disease through our Centers of Excellence network, increasing physical activity to at least 2.5 hours a week can slow decline in quality of life. The Parkinson’s Foundation has identified specific care approaches associated with better outcomes across patients who seek expert care at our designated care centers. Among others, best practices include early referral to physical therapy and encouragement of exercise as part of treatment.

A physical therapist is uniquely trained to design an exercise routine that targets specific motor impairments. Physical therapists also have an opportunity to provide frequent, direct feedback to help make you aware of how to exercise most effectively and safely.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.

In the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, your face may show little or no expression. Your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinson’s disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time.

Although Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured, medications and therapy can significantly improve your symptoms. Occasionally, your doctor may suggest surgery to regulate certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease signs and symptoms can be different for each patient. Early signs may be mild and go unnoticed. Symptoms often begin on one side of your body and usually remain worse on that side, even after symptoms begin to affect both sides.

Parkinson’s signs and symptoms may include:

  • A tremor, or shaking- usually begins in a limb, often in your hand or fingers. You may rub your thumb and forefinger back and forth, known as a pill-rolling tremor. Your hand may tremble when it’s at rest.
  • Slowed movement (bradykinesia)- Over time, Parkinson’s disease may slow your movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Your steps may become shorter when you walk. It may be difficult to get out of a chair. You may drag your feet as you try to walk.
  • Rigid muscles- Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of your body. The stiff muscles can be painful and limit your range of motion.
  • Impaired posture and balance- Your posture may become stooped, or you may have balance problems as a result of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Loss of automatic movements- You may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling, or swinging your arms when you walk.
  • Speech changes- You may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking. Your speech may be more of a monotone rather than have the usual inflections.
  • Writing changes- It may become hard to write, and your writing may appear small.

Risk factors for Parkinson’s disease include:

  • Young adults rarely experience Parkinson’s disease. It ordinarily begins in middle or late life, and the risk increases with age. People usually develop the disease around age 60 or older.
  • Having a close relative with Parkinson’s disease increases the chances that you’ll develop the disease. However, your risks are still small unless you have many relatives in your family with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than are women.
  • Exposure to toxins. Ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides may slightly increase your risk of Parkinson’s disease.


No specific test exists to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Your doctor trained in nervous system conditions (neurologist) will diagnose Parkinson’s disease based on your medical history, a review of your signs and symptoms, and a neurological and physical examination. Sometimes it takes time to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Doctors may recommend regular follow-up appointments with neurologists trained in movement disorders to evaluate your condition and symptoms over time and diagnose Parkinson’s disease.

A Physical Therapist can provide:

  • Education and self-management advice.
  • Exercise routines that have been associated with improvements (or slower declines) in mobility, quality of life, and disease severity.
  • Answers to questions about the type, intensity, frequency, or duration of exercise that is best for you.
  • Ways to maintain safety when exercising.
  • Help with:
    1. Normal physical activity routine
    2. Walking: slowness, small steps, or freezing (feeling glued to the floor or difficulty getting started)
    3. Balance or stability
    4. Posture
    5. Pain
    6. Moving around the house (getting up from a chair, moving around in bed)
    7. Getting around (in/out of a car or bus, elevators, stairs, and uneven ground)
  • Addressing fear of falling, have fallen, or are worried about your safety.
  • Other health problems that affect mobility, including joint or muscle pain from arthritis, problems with endurance due to a heart or lung condition, a broken bone or surgery

Setting Movement Goals with your Therapist

Every patient works with their physical therapist to set individualized movement goals. Physical therapists can help you optimize your exercise routine based on the latest research, re-learn challenging tasks, or stay safe and independent in the home. Some of the most common movement goals for people with Parkinson’s include:

  • Learning about exercises
  • Improving walking, balance, or posture
  • Addressing fall risk
  • Treating pain

Before your first visit, think about your movement goals and write down your problems and questions. This will help you to organize your thoughts. You can do this for future visits, too.

To learn even more about Parkinson’s Disease, check out this video created by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today. If you’d like to donate to the Michael J. Fox Foundation you can do so below. 

Schedule an appointment with Tara Today

Tara Porter, MPT

Leechburg Facility

Kiski Park Plaza
1001 South Leechburg Hill Road
Leechburg, PA 15656

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Myofascial Decompression Techniques aka Cup Therapy

Myofascial Decompression or Cupping being performed on the back of a patient

What is Cup Therapy?

Myofascial decompression or cupping is a therapy that helps treat musculoskeletal disorders by using suction to create negative pressure underneath the cup. Originally, fire was used to create the suction, but more recently a simple pump is used. The negative pressure helps to decompress the area by lifting the skin and the layer of tissue underneath the skin, the fascia, up into the cup. This creates space for the underlying tight muscle to lay down and relax. Cupping also helps bring blood flow to the area in need. Blood carries important nutrients to the tissue which help with healing.

Questions about CUpping?

Myofascial Decompression or Cupping is used as an adjunct to other physical therapy treatments to decrease pain and improve mobility. Cupping Therapy is an increasingly popular so we asked Lower Burrell Facility Director Will Jones, DPT, some commonly asked questions about cupping. Below are his responses.

Q: Can you describe the cupping process to me?

A: At its core, cupping is a massage in reverse. Instead adding pressure to muscles and connective tissue (as in massage), cupping creates expansion and space in the tissues and promotes blood flow. For most cupping sessions, the recipient is positioned lying face down to address muscles on the back, neck or shoulders. Once the patient is lying in a comfortable position, the cup is placed on the skin and a suction gun draws out the air from the cup creating a vacuum inside the cup. The result is skin, and the muscles underneath being pulled upward for a bit of a stretch. 

Each cup placement is left for a few seconds to a couple of minutes, which is all that is required to get a beneficial effect. In a typical cupping session, we do two to five placements on different muscles, depending on the size of the affected area. For most people, the experience of cupping is rather neutral – meaning it does not feel especially good or bad while the cups are on the skin. The sensation is more of a pulling or grabbing that becomes less intense the longer the cup is left in place.

Q: What is really happening to create relief?

A: My explanation would be that the vacuum of the cups gives the muscles/connective tissue a stretch and expansion. As the local muscles are stretched and given more space, blood is pumped through the muscles and circulated through the local area. This means that cupping is addressing the two main causes of muscle tension & pain. One is poor blood flow, and the other is shortened or contracted muscles and connective tissue. Relief is found in the focusing on those two things along with the right physical therapy.

Q: What types of people can benefit from cupping therapy?

A: Cupping can be used on things like myofascial restrictions, and tight muscles in the upper back, shoulders, and neck. The classic presentation would be the sensation of tight “knots” in the shoulders where the tension can be radiating up to the neck. These upper body areas are especially amenable to cupping therapy because the muscles involved are smaller and close to the surface of the body.  Cupping can also be helpful for low back pain as there are often restrictions of the soft tissue in this area due to prolonged sitting.

Q: What should I expect after treatment?

A: It is common for patients to experience some skin marking with this treatment. This can range from red rings that quickly disappear or some mild bruising due to the pulling of blood to the surface. Treatments are typically painless, and the discoloration usually disappears after a few days.

Take a minute to watch this piece on Cupping as seen on Good Morning America!

Schedule an Appointment with one of our experienced therapists today

Lower Burrell

3160 Kipp Avenue Lower Burrell, PA 15068

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