March 1, 2024
    How Physical Therapy Can Help Elderly Individuals

    How Physical Therapy Can Help Elderly Individuals

    Using physical therapy, senior patients can overcome health issues, including pain management, reducing the risk of falls, and more. They can also improve their balance, strength, and flexibility, allowing them to avoid serious injuries from falls. Although symptom improvement is significant, it is also essential to measure functional enhancements. It can be done through a variety of methods, including the use of validated applicable measures.

    Improved Mobility

    During physical therapy sessions, seniors work on increasing their flexibility and range of motion. It can make it easier for them to perform everyday tasks like tying their shoes or reaching for something on a shelf. Keeping up with mobility exercises can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis, fractures, and arthritis.

    Increased flexibility can prevent the degeneration of muscles, bones, and cartilage when these areas are not used. Falling is the most common way for older Americans to get hurt, and it can result in severe injuries like fractures and sprains of the muscles. 

    Physical therapy for elderly can help to reduce falls by improving balance and strength. It can lower the risk of injury and even death caused by falling. It is essential because it can help to keep people living longer, healthier lives.

    Decreased Pain

    As people age, their bodies experience changes that can affect balance, strength, and mobility. With exercises that enhance balance, flexibility, and power, a physical therapist—a movement specialist—can help prevent and manage these changes.

    In addition, PT can be used to reduce pain and the need for surgeries or prescription drugs in many cases. Techniques such as clinical electrophysiology (aka electrical stimulation, or e-stim) and graded exposure therapy (which involves exposing patients to situations that are painful or frightening in a step-by-step manner to help them retrain their brain away from negative thoughts and emotions) have shown great promise in relieving pain.

    Falling injuries are a significant problem among seniors, and they can lead to bone fractures, head trauma, and serious complications. Regular PT can help seniors build muscle and maintain balance, reducing their risk of falls. It can also help them avoid sedentary lifestyles, often resulting in weakness, atrophy, and poor activity tolerance.

    Improved Cognitive Function

    As people age, their cognitive function decreases. It’s common for older adults to develop dementia or other conditions that result in memory loss. It can cause them to feel discouraged and isolated from others. However, physical therapy is an effective way to improve cognitive function and prevent further decline.

    Seniors who have a physical disability can also benefit from the increased mobility, and reduced risk of falling that comes with it. It will allow them to live independently and minimize their need for long-term care.

    Research has shown that PT is beneficial for dementia patients in the form of exercising their muscles and brains, which stimulate new neural pathways and improve cognitive function. One study found that a month of low frequency, short duration, pragmatic PT improved gait and balance impairments for individuals with AD, VaD, DLB, or MCI. The researchers concluded that further clinical and research exploration for PT as a primary treatment strategy is warranted.

    Reduced Risk of Falling

    Falls in older adults pose serious health risks, including injuries that can require hospitalization and long-term care. Each year, 3 million seniors visit the emergency room for fall-related damages; 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls.

    However, falling can be something other than a regular part of the aging process and can often be prevented. Through increased strength, coordination, and balance, physical therapy programs can help lower the risk of falls. A PT can also assess the home to determine any potential hazards that may contribute to a fall.

    Moreover, by providing a high-quality, interdisciplinary healthcare approach, physical therapy can effectively manage frail elderly patients. It can improve population health, lower costs, and enhance patient experiences. The benefits of Physical therapy for older people include improved mobility, reduced pain, and less risk of falling.

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