5 Benefits of Physical Therapy for Seniors
Physical therapists are movement experts, helping people recover their mobility after an injury or surgery or manage symptoms of a chronic condition. Decades of studies find physical therapy speeds recovery and helps people regain the highest mobility possible.
At MOTION, our physical therapists are skilled in working with all ages, from children to senior citizens, and at all levels of fitness. We understand that in certain populations, such as older adults, recovery can be more challenging.
Many of our senior clients come to us after sustaining an injury from a fall. One in four people aged 65 and older falls every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC warns that falling once doubles a person’s chance of falling again.
Not only can falls lead to broken bones, decreased mobility, infections from prolonged immobility, and chronic pain, but they can also lead to depression. We teach our older clients how to reduce their risk of falling and how to improve their overall fitness and mobility. As they regain their independence, their mental and emotional outlook can also improve.
Many seniors also suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes or arthritis. Physical therapy can help older adults learn to relieve or manage debilitating symptoms.
Physical Therapy for Conditions that Commonly Affect Seniors
MOTION therapists work with our older clients to improve strength, range of motion, balance, and coordination so they can maintain their independence and ability to perform everyday tasks.
We believe education is key to maintaining an active lifestyle. That’s why we teach our senior clients fall prevention strategies and how to perform daily tasks more safely.
Besides post-surgical, post-illness, or post-injury recovery, physical therapy can help treat the conditions including:
- Cardiopulmonary disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Incontinence, pelvic floor dysfunction
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
How Senior Citizens Benefit from Physical Therapy
As people age, they often struggle to maintain the strength, flexibility, and endurance they once had. Their balance and vision often become impaired, leading to a greater risk of falls and other injuries. Their bones become brittle, increasing the possibility of fractures. Without interventions, conditions like diabetes or heart disease can worsen and even become deadly.
Fortunately, physical therapy is a proven, safe approach to better physical and mental health. The benefits of physical therapy for older adults are many. PT helps seniors recover more rapidly from surgery or illness, helps manage symptoms of chronic conditions, reduces the risk of falls, and makes performing daily tasks safer and easier, enabling older adults to live more confident, independent lives.
1. Quicker recovery from acute injuries or after surgery
Multiple studies find that a lack of movement after surgery or during a lengthy illness can cause loss of mobility, impaired function, muscular atrophy, and complications like pneumonia, impaired heart, and reduced lung capacity.
Our MOTION therapists help senior clients resume movement as quickly as possible in a safe and supervised environment. We guide our clients in exercises and other modalities that are carefully designed to reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness, improve cardiovascular and lung strength, increase muscle strength, improve coordination and balance, and increase flexibility.
2. Reduce the risk of falls and injuries
Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury deaths in Americans ages 65 and over, according to CDC statistics, with more than 30,000 fall-related elderly deaths per year. Injury from a fall is the number one reason doctors refer their senior patients to physical therapy. But working with a physical therapist before experiencing a fall can help minimize the risk of it happening at all.
Impaired balance, coordination, and muscle weakness increase the risk of a fall. At MOTION, our skilled physical therapists work with senior clients to improve balance, muscle strength, range of motion, and flexibility so they can feel confident when moving around.
Besides helping our clients regain functional mobility, we teach them how to remain active and independent without increasing their risk of injury. We educate our senior clients on how to safeguard their homes from fall hazards, how to perform everyday tasks safely, and how to use assistive devices effectively.
3. Manage pain without medications
As seniors age, they often suffer from pain associated with arthritis, nerves, muscles and joints, and other conditions. While doctors can prescribe medications to ease pain, drugs can have unwanted side effects.
Studies find physical therapy to be an effective way to manage pain caused by certain conditions without dangerous side effects. MOTION therapists work to treat the source of pain, using massage therapy and other modalities, including:
- Ice and heat
- Water therapy
- Electrical stimulation
- Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found physical therapy as effective as surgery for the relief of pain caused by lumbar stenosis, without the risk of prescription medications.
4. Manage chronic conditions
Chronic health issues affect people of all ages. Seniors, however, are especially vulnerable to such conditions as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, diabetes, stroke, COPD, arthritis, incontinence, osteoporosis, lower back pain, and other conditions.
Research compiled by Sage Journals supports the benefits of physical therapy for managing symptoms of certain conditions. Our highly trained MOTION therapists work with a variety of chronic conditions and are deeply committed to helping clients improve symptoms as much as possible. Here are examples of our treatment goals for various conditions:
- Stroke. Stimulate the part of the brain that controls movement, constraint-induced movement therapy, and other approaches to regain mobility.
- Parkinson’s disease. Reduce or control tremors and improve trunk flexibility.
- Multiple Sclerosis. Maintain balance and stability.
- Fibromyalgia. Strengthen muscles, increase range of motion, reduce inflammation.
- Dementia. Improve memory and slow the progression of more advanced memory problems.
- Incontinence. Strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
- COPD. Increase aerobic capacity.
- Diabetes. Control weight, lower blood pressure, harmful cholesterol, and blood glucose levels, and raise healthy cholesterol.
- Osteoporosis. Strengthen bones, lessen bone loss, and educate on fall prevention techniques.
- Arthritis. Strengthen muscles that support joints, reduce pain, improve range of motion, and teach clients how to protect joints.
See our MOTION blogs for information on how we treat back or neck pain.
5. Promotes Independence
Perhaps the greatest benefit of physical therapy for older adults is that it helps them enjoy a more confident, independent lifestyle.
By working in partnership with a MOTION physical therapist, seniors learn how to reduce their risk of falling, as well as symptom management and prevention skills, how to regain and maintain strength, balance, and flexibility, and how to manage pain without drugs. Our senior clients also learn the safest ways to perform their daily activities.
As older adults become more physically fit, they also become more mentally healthy. All these efforts lead to a stronger immune system and a greater quality of life.
By practicing the home exercise program designed by their physical therapist, seniors can continue to enjoy an active life long after they complete their clinical program.
Why Seniors Choose MOTION
Since 2015, MOTION has provided transformative physical and occupational therapy services to clients of all ages. At MOTION, our mission is “to get you back to what moves you” as quickly as possible.
We understand, appreciate, and respect our senior clients. At MOTION, we are committed to helping them reduce their risk of falls and injuries, regain mobility and independence, increase their physical and mental health, and improve their quality of life.
No matter what your age, we know how important an active lifestyle is to you. We can help get you there. Contact us today to schedule an in-clinic or telehealth appointment.