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Role of physiotherapy in geriatric people

Aging or getting old makes our body go through many physical changes. These changes usually cause a decrease in muscle strength, bone density, body coordination, and even make the joints stiffer, which sometimes can lead to falls

and fractures. For elderly citizens, exercising may be the key for bringing back and sustaining the physical function required in daily living. Exercise programs set by a physiotherapist can help in reducing body pain, enhancing the movement of joints,facilitating coordination, and boosting respiratory function.  Elderly people suffering from chronic diseases can also obtain benefits from physiotherapy.

Though physiotherapy cannot stop the process of aging it can help to reduce the impact that it has on our bodies. Physiotherapists are trained professionals who can identify the factors that prevent elderly people from being active and independent. Exercising on regular basis can also help to reduce the risk and impact of illnesses that are more likely to affect older people. In this blog, we will discuss the various conditions suffered by elderly people who require physiotherapy.


Conditions treated by Geriatric Physiotherapists

  • Geriatric conditions are susceptible to various illnesses usually including musculoskeletal, neurological, and cardiopulmonary problems, mental illness, balance problems, and chronic pain. Physiotherapy treatment has been successful in managing each of these ailments.

Pain from chronic conditions:

  • Physiotherapy can help to decrease discomfort due to conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis. Usually, joint pain is caused by inflammation of the joints, injuries, arthritis, gout, etc. It can restrict mobility and lead to weakness or instability to perform normal activities if left untreated for a longer time. The goal of the physiotherapist is to restore the function of the muscles, bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments.

Improve strength and flexibility:

  • Due to aging decreased strength and flexibility is one of the most common issues that almost every individual faces. Further, the condition can be worsened by the presence of other chronic conditions related to neurological issues, endocrine problems, and musculoskeletal issues. As a result of degenerative changes that occur due to old age, there is poor muscle tone and stiff joints, etc. A physiotherapist helps to alleviate pain and helps return to mobility. Some of the common causes of decreased strength are thyroid disease, anemia, and depression, lack of sleep, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and medication side effects. Physiotherapy helps to bring back strength and flexibility, and also improves patients' quality of life.

 Postural Instability and Balance Impairment:

  • Balance impairment in the elderly is due to the loss of normal functioning of muscles and bones. It is most commonly caused due to arthritis and numbness in feet and legs, eye problems, blood circulation problems, and intake of multiple medicines. Physiotherapy treatment includes balance exercises to help improve the function of muscles & bones in individuals having neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, ALS, Parkinson's disease, or suffered a brain injury.

 Risk of injury:

  • Physical therapy helps to maintain stability. The physiotherapist teaches the patient to adapt to visual, mobility, balance, and muscle loss impairments to easily complete the activities of daily living. This awareness helps to reduce the risk of injuries and re-injury. Patients who have had a heart attack, or have other cardiovascular or pulmonary conditions such as pulmonary fibrosis or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can benefit from physiotherapy by following a treatment regime that helps them to increase endurance and gain functional independence.

Prevention of risk of a fall:

  • Falls are the leading cause of accidents among aged individuals, resulting in bone fractures and other injuries. A physiotherapist can train the individual in techniques to prevent a fall.

 Maintaining an independent lifestyle:

  • Recovery from pain due to an illness or injury allows the individual to lead an active and independent life for a longer period of time. Stretching and strengthening exercises are proven to be effective for older people. Patients with foot drop, spinal injury, and stroke are provided with walking aids to facilitate independent living. The therapist works with the patient to ensure that he/she can remain as independent as possible.

Physiotherapy treatment:

Physiotherapist aims to help and address the areas which require treatment. The therapist uses his/ her information to design a tailor-made program. The program includes strengthening exercises, range of movement (ROM), balance, and walking exercises.

Physiotherapy includes exercises, workouts, and the use of electric modalities such

as Ultrasound, TENS, Shockwave therapy, Laser, etc

  • Muscle-strengthening exercises are done twice a week, one of the best

  • treatments for osteoarthritis and bone health.

  • Moderate intensity activity like brisk walking is recommended.

  • Strengthening exercises for muscles can be done against resistance, by using

  • stretchy bands.

  • Combination of moderate cardio, endurance, and balance exercises.

 Benefits of Physiotherapy in Geriatrics:

  • Physiotherapy is vital for restoring functionality, reducing pain, and thus improving quality of life.

  • Regular exercises result in improved balance, strength, coordination, motor control, flexibility, endurance, and even memory.

  • Helps to maintain cognitive function.

  • Reduces the risk of heart disease.

  • Helps to maintain the ability to carry out activities of daily living.

  • Improves mood and self-esteem.

  • Reduces the risk of falls.

  • Helps to reduce the impact of illnesses that are more likely to affect older

  • people.

  • Treats and prevents joint problems, balance disorders, risk of falls, strength decline and reduces high blood pressure and obesity.

  • Physiotherapy is proved to be beneficial for old people suffering from conditions like stiff joints, unbendable ligaments, and overall body movement. Parkinson's disease, arthritis, and neurological problems.

  • The therapy helps maintain mobility and independence.

  • The therapy is a means of attaining coordination within the body systems.

  • It also improves cardio-respiratory functions.

Physiotherapists can provide advice on how the exercises can be done safely and also strongly recommends exercises for elderly patients as a part of a daily routine. While following the exercise regime elderly people are not limited to uncomfortable living conditions or insufficient physical activities. This unique therapy is a proven methodology for elderly parents to engage in exercises for as long as their health will allow it.


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