Female Athlete Triad: A Trio of Health Concerns for the Casual and Professional Athlete

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, March 6, 2014 — APTA explored the topic of Female Athlete Triad with APTA member and physical therapist Laura Stanley, PT, DPT, SCS, and Kelly Waicus, MD, CAQSM, in its latest Move Forward Radio episode, Female Athlete Triad: Recognizing and Treating the Nutrition-Based Condition. The "Triad," is a syndrome that involves an imbalance among an active female's energy levels, bone mineral density, and menstrual function that can lead to a series of health concerns.

Triad, which occurs as a result of intense physical activity combined with poor nutrition, can develop gradually over months, or even years, without any immediate symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they include irregular menstrual cycles, changes in eating habits, and fatigue. Triad may occur both in women who are "casual" athletes and those who compete professionally.

"Unfortunately some of the things athletes tend to start experiencing are also often symptoms that are relatively difficult or uncomfortable to talk about," said Stanley. "So from a diagnosis or detectability standpoint, many of the signs are underreported."

Physical therapists who treat physically active females often identify these symptoms by encouraging open communication and developing positive relationships. Their approach to patient care involves a multidisciplinary treatment method that involves the patient, her family, and other health care professionals. A physical therapist can also prescribe an appropriate exercise plan based on the patient's symptoms.

"Physical therapists have a really unique opportunity to be a part of the overall intervention for helping athletes deal with this," said Stanley. "We have an opportunity to be the bridge between the athlete and other referral sources, such as a physician, a nutritionist, and a sports psychologist."

APTA's "A Physical Therapist's Guide to Female Athlete Triad" provides more information on the condition and ways in which a physical therapist can help.

The American Physical Therapy Association represents more than 88,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat, and find a physical therapist in your area at www.MoveForwardPT.com. Consumers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@MoveForwardPT) and Facebook.

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