The Importance of Physical Therapy for SeniorsOther | March 20, 2014
The goal of physical therapy is to help restore and improve functionality, reduce pain and increase mobility for better strength and balance.
Falls are the major reason seniors require physical therapy.
As people age, they tend to lose flexibility, strength and often their balance, so maintaining the desired level of fitness becomes increasingly challenging. Loss of these functions could lead to a fall that could cause serious injury. Physical therapy helps improve these functions.
Osteoporosis, which is a progressive bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density, can lead to an increased risk for fractures. It is often the cause of many falls. Physical therapy and a regular exercise program help control the effects of this condition.
Strength training and exercise provided in physical therapy can also help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. People with arthritis can benefit from physical therapy because it provides exercises to help preserve the strength and use of the joints. Physical therapy also teaches therapeutic methods to relieve discomfort through both physical techniques and activity modifications.
Physical therapy is prescribed in many cases following a hospital stay. Skimping on post hospitalization therapy can cause serious repercussions.
Potential consequences of seniors skipping physical therapy, especially following a hospitalization:
- Falls – After a hospital stay, many are weak and more prone to falling. Failing to have therapy after hospitalization could potentially lead to a re-hospitalization due to an injury from a fall.
- Infections- Without active movement because of weakness that could have been improved with physical therapy, there is an increased risk for pneumonia. There is also increased potential for skin problems, such as ulcers, which may develop because of lack of movement.
- Reduced Long Term Strength and Endurance- During recovery, physical therapy can influence your strength and endurance level that you will have long after you finished your sessions.This can also cause increased blood pressure and heart rate and decreased oxygen saturation levels, which can lead to stroke, blood clots and heart attacks.
- Reduced Education- Education through physical therapy shows ways to complete activities of daily living in a more efficient way to help improve physical and mental well being and quality of life.
- Increased Pain- If you’re not moving because you are not taking physical therapy, joints tends to get stiff. Decreased mobility leads to more pain.
Physical therapy for seniors has a variety of benefits which can include not only gaining strength and balance, but also providing a renewed sense of confidence. Physical therapy can give seniors back their independence and make daily tasks easier.
Working with a physical therapist will not only reduce pain, but it will also help improve overall strength and ability and reduce the risk for injuries, helping you maintain a higher quality of life.