Injuries related to slips, trips and falls are unfortunately common for those over the age of 65. This is due in part to age-related diminishment of muscle strength, the shrinking of bones in size and density and a reduction in flexibility, and can be exacerbated by balance problems that many seniors experience. Physical therapy is a highly effective treatment for those who are recovering from an injury, and it can also work as a preventative measure to help people of all ages maintain or regain strength and flexibility.
Physical Therapy Overview
Physical Therapists (PTs) are licensed medical professionals who are trained and educated to detect and treat physical abnormalities in patients. PTs practice in a number of settings such as clinics, health care centers, senior centers and gymnasiums. They help patients restore physical strength and mobility by guiding them through specific stretching and strength building exercises, sometimes in conjunction with other treatments. PTs are trained to identify real-life scenarios, such as potential falls, and build a regime that can help prevent or treat those scenarios. They will also develop regimes to support patient goals, such as improving mobility enough to be able to walk unassisted or improving wrist mobility sufficiently to be able to draw or paint.
Physical Therapy Benefits
When used in conjunction with other treatments, physical therapy can be highly effective for helping patients heal from serious injuries or enabling people to improve performance with everyday activities and enjoy a fuller life. Physical therapy exercise, movement and stretching keeps muscles, ligaments and joints supple which can significantly reduce pain levels. It can help improve reduced mobility due to age-related issues such as bone loss or joint replacement, help speed patient recovery from physical injuries and in some cases may help prevent surgery. Physical therapy is even used to treat people who have heart and lung conditions by helping to recondition the lungs or strengthen and improve cardiovascular health.
Physical Therapy Treatments
Physical therapy can be helpful in treating a wide variety of physical conditions, and in some cases even reduce a patient’s need for medication. From issues related to physical injury to chronic pain or recovery from hospital stays due to illness, PT can help people of all ages regain strength and return to their prior level of mobility. Often, a physical therapist will begin with a functional evaluation to assess: balance, flexibility, posture, range of motion, gait, cardio endurance and strength. Physical therapy can help treat the following:
- Arthritis, osteoporosis or fibromyalgia.
- Injuries from slips, trips or falls.
- Sports-related injuries.
- Repetitive motion conditions, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Issues related to pelvic health, such as urinary incontinence.
- Neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease, spinal cord injuries or Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
- Cardiovascular issues, such as COPD.
Physical therapy can also help with:
- Recovery from a long-term illness, such as pneumonia.
- Prevention of issues that can occur due to lack of movement such as pneumonia, ulcers or skin infections.
- Building muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance, while helping to lower blood pressure and increase oxygen saturation.
- Alleviating pain related to cancer.
Finding The Right Physical Therapist
If you are recovering from an injury or simply feel that you would benefit from physical therapy, confer with your doctor and request a referral. There are different types of physical therapy, so it is important to select a therapist who specializes in the area that best meets your needs. For example, orthopedic physical therapy focuses on diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system; geriatric PT focuses on issues experienced by older adults such as arthritis, osteoporosis, joint replacement and balance disorders; cardiovascular and pulmonary PT helps patients manage and heal from a variety of heart and lung conditions and manage chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD. After your physical therapist reviews the information provided by your doctor, be sure to speak with your new PT about your specific therapy goals.
Getting Access to The Right Care
Although physical therapy is highly effective, it often takes multiple sessions to achieve a desired outcome. In some cases, there may also be significant benefit to maintaining regular, ongoing sessions. Lighthouse Senior Living offers on-site rehabilitation services with state-of-the-art equipment and Medicare treatment options at both our Hopkins Creek and Ellicott City locations. Our residents enjoy the convenience of regular visits from licensed physical therapists. Contact us today to schedule a virtual tour or in-person tour of our communities, located in Baltimore County and Howard County.