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How To Use Your Extended Healthcare Benefits

Extended Healthcare Benefits

Calgarians want more vacation time and better health benefits at work. Many of us have some extended health coverage, however very few of us are actually making use of the benefits we have.

Paramedical benefits, like massage, physiotherapy and acupuncture have seen an increase in usage over the last decade. But are only claimed by a small percentage of those eligible for the benefits. What can you do to make the most out of your extended healthcare benefits?

Direct Billing

Some insurance companies provide the convenience of direct billing for eligible services. Forget to submit your claim? Not able to pay out of pocket for your treatments? No problem. At Prairie Therapy we make it convenient to use your extended healthcare benefits. We direct bill to most insurance companies for massage therapy, acupuncture and physiotherapy services. Bring in your insurance card to your next appointment to get direct billing set up.

Book in Advance

We’ve all done it. We haven’t used our extended healthcare benefits for the year and now have only a short few months to make the most of a year’s worth of extended health benefits. You’ve worked hard to earn your coverage and it’s there to help you feel better and be healthy, so why not use it? Because so many people use their benefits at the end of the year, we suggest booking in advance to be able to maximize and use all of your extended healthcare benefits.

Find the Right Practitioners

Find the right team of healthcare practitioners to assist you with your healthcare goals. We have a team of massage therapists, TCMD’s, physiotherapists, athletic therapists and osteopathic manual therapists to help you make the most of your extended healthcare benefits. We collaborate as a team with one another to get you results. And the best part is that they are all under one roof!

All About Knee Braces- Finding the Right Support

Custom Knee Brace

Prairie Therapy offers custom knee braces from Ossur, Donjoy and Breg.  All three companies offer world-class knee brace solutions to help with orthopaedic injuries. Whether you’ve had knee surgery or are looking to avoid surgery custom knee braces can help protect and manage pain.

How much does a knee brace cost?

At Prairie Therapy we carry a wide variety of bracing products. The price of a brace will depend on the injury and severity. We have off-the-shelf products for as low as $100; custom products as high as $1500 and everything in between.

Does my insurance cover knee braces?

Most insurance plans will cover bracing products; howevereach plan is a little bit different. We encourage all of our clients to checkwith their insurance provider for their level of coverage before purchasing.

Is direct billing available for knee braces?

We are unable to directly bill insurance companies for bracing products. Our clients typically pay up front for the product and then submit the sales receipt for reimbursement.

Do I need a prescription to get a brace?

You do not need a doctor’s prescription to get a bracingproduct; however it is always encouraged to have one so that we have a clearunderstanding of your injury.

How long does it taketo receive an ordered product?

At Prairie Therapy we do carry a small stock of bracing products so on occasion you may be able to walk out same day with your purchase. For off-the-shelf products, the typical wait time is 3 days; while custom orders are roughly 7 days.

How long does a fitting appointment take?

A fitting appointment is scheduled for 30 minutes. One ofour bracing experts will take you through all the products applicable to yourinjury condition, as well as pricing, warranty and any other questions you mayhave.

Do you fix or repair knee braces?

This will depend on the level of damage to a product. We may be able to help with minor repairs or adjustments. Bracing products with more significant damage will have to be sent away for a warranty replacement or manufacturer repairs.

The difference between Athletic Therapy & Physiotherapy

At Prairie Therapy Physiotherapy and Athletic Therapy are similar.  Both will assess and educate you about your injury and healing process.  Our therapists treat hands-on as well as give you some exercises to do at home. So what are the differences and what is the best type of appointment for you?

Athletic Therapy:

Athletic Therapy is effective in treating musculoskeletal injuries. In the same way as Physiotherapy, the therapists assess and educate you about your injuries. Much like Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy will use manual therapy, exercise, and sometimes bracing and taping. The goal is to prepare you for safe recovery into an active lifestyle. 

Three key areas for recovery:

  1. Injury prevention (warm-up, conditioning program, taping, etc)
  2. Immediate Care (injury assessment, )
  3. Rehabilitation (using a variety of procedures to promote an environment conducive to healing)


Physiotherapy can restore and maintain strength, function, motion and overall well-being by addressing underlying physical issues. Like Athletic Therapy, Physiotherapists do this with a combination of manual techniques, exercises, and therapeutic modalities.  Your treatment will be tailored to regain lost function, as well as improve and optimize existing function​.

Physiotherapists use a variety of techniques such as:

Manual manipulation techniques, needling, functional testing,  fabrication and application of assistive, adaptive, supportive and protective devices and equipment.

What are the differences between Physio and Athletic Therapy?

How it’s different from Physio

At Prairie Therapy we believe in Rehabilitative Collaboration. While there are some differences between Athletic therapy and Physio, at our clinic they are similar. Some differences are:

  • Athletic Therapist’s focus primarily in the area of assessment and rehabilitation of orthopedic conditions–the muscles, bones, and joints
  • Physiotherapists training is much broader and encompassing; trained to assess and rehabilitate burn patients, stroke patients, etc.


To summarize, at Prairie Therapy, both physiotherapists and athletic therapists use therapeutic modalities,  rehabilitative techniques, physical reconditioning to promote healing. We want you to feel better and believe in working as a team.  If you start with one therapist and they think that you would be better served by another therapist, they will be happy to refer you to them.

Insurance plans can vary and this can be a determining factor in choosing which service to book. Do you know if your insurance plan covers Athletic therapy, Physiotherapy or both? Make sure to review your insurance coverage, insurance plans vary in their coverage of Physiotherapy and Athletic therapy. Also, Physician referrals are not required to receive an assessment by a physiotherapist or athletic therapist.

At Prairie Therapy our goal is to help you return to your regular activities at 100%

Learn more about Athletic Therapy and Physiotherapy here:

Do Osteopaths Help With Foot Pain?

Osteopaths Treat Foot Pain

Did you know that Osteopaths can help find the cause of foot pain? Feet are our foundation. Did you know that 30% of our body’s awareness of space come from our feet? Our feet are responsible for the vertical balance of our body, continuous weight-bearing in standing and walking and responsible for our body’s ability to move. When our feet are in pain, not only do we struggle to walk around, but it can also have a huge impact on the rest of your body.

Causes of Foot Pain

So, what causes foot pain? Here are some common causes of pain in the feet or ankles that we see and treat at the clinic are:

  • Planter-fasciitis
  • Achilles Heel or Achilles Tendinopathy
  • Ankle Sprains
  • Gout
  • Shin Splints

Osteopaths and Your Feet

With this in mind, an Osteopathic assessment of the foot should not be overlooked as this can have significant implications on the function of the entire body. Osteopaths consider the lines of gravity (anterior and posterior lines create the resultant central line of gravity), the myofascial chain, and if it is primarily a “foot issue” (ascending lesion of the foot that creates dysfunction elsewhere in the body), or a primary issue elsewhere that creates a descending lesion where the foot must compensate.

The curves of the spine, along with the arches of the foot are important for shock absorption. In the presence of a lesion or rigidity of the arches of the foot, there will be a reduction in the flexibility of the spinal curves through the synergy of the springs and vice versa. This may present as back pain, neck pain, stiffness or may influence the digestive system. Our sympathetic nervous system for most of the digestive organs is found at the thoracic levels T5-T9. In the foot, it may present as plantar fasciitis, general foot pain, changes in gait or shin splints. 


Further up the chain, there is also a relationship between the foot and cranial sphere:

  • Cubo-navicular joint with the sphenobasilar symphesis (SBS) of the cranium.
  • Tarsal sinus and vestibular system
  • Talus and atlas (first cervical vertebrae C1)
  • Lines of gravity
  • Diaphragms (tentorium of the SBS and plantar fascia)

A dysfunction between the foot and cranial sphere may present with neck pain, stiffness, headaches, changes in posture and of course poor proprioception.

The fibula is found in on the lateral side of the lower leg. In contrast to the tibia, which is much stronger for weight-bearing, the fibula is adaptive to external forces. It can adjust, compensate, stabilize, balance and regulate the tensions of the lower extremity. The fibula has a direct relationship through the fascial system from the foot to the ilium (pelvis). Because of this, a lesion found in the fibula may present as pain or dysfunction in the ankle/foot, knee, hip joint or pelvis.

Our bodies are incredible when compensating around these changes or dysfunctions. However, we can only sustain this for so long until we are no longer able to compensate further.  Osteopathy looks past the area of pain to identify the cause rather than chasing symptoms! Start with the feet!

Jackie Caione- D.O.M.P, CAT (C)
Osteopathic Manual Therapist

To learn more about how Osteopathic Manual Therapy can help with your feet, click here

Physiotherapy Rehabilitation For ACL Injuries

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the most frequently injured ligament of the knee. Those who sustain an ACL tear will likely undergo surgery to repair the tear; however, some may avoid surgery by modifying their physical activity to relieve stress on the knee. When ACL surgery is an option, physiotherapy will take into account the healing time when we provide you with rehabilitation exercises. If you don’t have surgery, a physiotherapy rehabilitation program can improve your ACL function.

Key Components of an ACL Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Program:

Strength Training

Strength training addresses the muscles of the lower limb, the core, as well as left to right limb differences. It also addresses strength imbalances which help prevent re-injury of the ACL.

Multiple Exercise Interventions

  • Locomotion: Tri-planar, direction change, acceleration & deceleration.
  • Gross Fundamental Movement skills (see the “PLAY Tools” Inventory from the Canadian Sport for Life Models – Blog to come!): Locomotion, crawl, jump, throw, kick, strike, roll and dive.
  • Exercises that require the joints to go through a full range of motion: Deep squat (single and double leg), pull-up, push-up
  • Exercises that include a concentric as well as an eccentric component co-contraction of muscles around a joint: Lunges, squats, push-ups.
  • Closed Kinetic Chain as well as in Open Kinetic Chain exercises: with a focus on activation from the core.
  • Dissociation Exercises (Upper extremity from Lower extremity and Left from Right side): Roll, crawl, diagonal neural patterns.

Proximal muscle control

Proximal muscle control is about core strength and also control of the core. In a rehabilitation program, we would look at how the core reacts in key movement patterns like landing from a jump.


Proprioception is the sense of self-movement and body position. For instance, we look at landing from a jump and frontal plane movements of both the knees (inward) and of the trunk (side to side).

Neuromuscular Training

Neuromuscular training teaches your body better habits for knee stability. When you train how your knee moves, especially when you jump, land and pivot, you can maintain a more stable position of the knee joint. Neuromuscular training is considered in tri-planar motion.

Injuries to the ACL, are especially common in team sports like soccer, skiing, basketball, and volleyball. For example, in basketball, ball handling vs. defence has been shown to have a different incidence of injury rates, with the defence having a much higher incidence.

Fatigue training

When looking at an ACL injury, we look at how the body responds to both muscular and cardiovascular fatigue. This includes the practice of sport-specific exercises when the body is tired. In Physiotherapy, we would use single leg balance exercises, jump & squat form/technique, deceleration training & direction changes.

How much and how long

Studies have shown variability in program duration and frequency, but in order to see a training effect, exercises need to have the components of progressive overload and not allow for accommodation. They cannot be stagnant and need to be progressive and challenging. Some programs have shown gains as quickly as six weeks when training 3 times per week for 90-120 minutes per session. Other programs have shown gains over an entire soccer season (4 months) when used as a warm-up (20min) prior to every training practice.

For more an evidence-based review of the literature on ACL rehabilitation programs please use the following link:

A physiotherapist will take into account multiple considerations when building a rehabilitation program for the patient with a deficient ACL. To learn more please contact us at Prairie Therapy and ask to book in with Zenia.

Will a Custom Knee Brace Help Me to Heal Faster?

Defiance Custom Don Joy Knee Brace

Will a Custom Knee Brace Help me Heal Faster?

Custom Knee Braces

No. A Custom Knee Brace will NOT help you heal faster.

This is one of the biggest presumptions that most people have with custom knee braces. They come in after recently hurting their knee, and ask about getting a brace. They want to go skiing this weekend, and just do not quite feel like they are ready.

If you cannot do it without the brace, you cannot do it with the brace.

Example of a Custom Knee Brace

Custom Knee Brace

I’m going to say this again later for emphasis, but a knee brace is NOT a shortcut for proper rehab. It does not make you stronger, it does not increase your range of motion, and it does not increase your balance. All of those things can only be gained through proper rehab, and time.

Knee Brace benefits

A brace does provide other benefits. It increases the stability of your knee joint. This will help to ensure that you do not injure the same thing more, or injure something else in the knee. It provides stability to the actual knee joint but does not make your leg any stronger. Having it on your knee will also help with proprioception, and knowing where your knee is. It reminds you not to put it into a bad position. It also gives you confidence in knowing that if you are not strong enough to protect your knee on your own, you have a bit of back up with the knee brace. Just make sure that the brace does not make you over-confident, making you try something that you would not do without it.


The primary role of a brace is prevention. There are other braces that help with issues like arthritis, patella-femoral tracking, pre and post surgery, etc. But a Custom Knee Brace is to keep you from getting hurt again. Or, it can be to keep you from getting hurt in the first place. Many people will get a custom knee brace before getting hurt to avoid injury. The last thing that we want is for people to think that getting a custom knee brace is a shortcut for good rehab. It is not.

If you cannot do it without the brace, you cannot do it with the brace.

John Reinbolt, CAT(C)