Home Gesundheit Die Vorteile der Physiotherapie für ältere Erwachsene

Die Vorteile der Physiotherapie für ältere Erwachsene

von NFI Redaktion

Donna Rice experienced sharp pain in her thigh muscles. At 65 years old, Rice, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, had been a runner for over 40 years. Even when she was in pain, she was reluctant to stop running. It was key to her social life, well-being, and overall quality of life.

She rested, stretched, and got massages – things she thought she should do. Maybe, she thought, it would get better on its own.

But that was not the case. Even after 5 months, nothing had improved. Rice knew it was time to see a physical therapist. It’s something she has noticed more with age.

„Sometimes you can get away with ignoring things, but as you get older, that becomes less possible,“ she says.

Her therapist prescribed a progressive training program tailored to her injury. She gradually built strength without overloading her body. After a few months of consistent work, Rice was able to run again.

Without them, her recovery would have been much harder and may not have happened at all. That’s because physical therapists provide „fitness with clinical precision,“ says physical therapist Gene Shirokobrod, DPT, from Elliott City, Maryland.

A good physical therapist doesn’t just ask where it hurts and give you a few exercises, says Shirokobrod. They take the time to assess your specific movement patterns and create an individual plan to help you increase strength and move better and pain-free.

In older adults, this can be especially helpful, as physical therapists can identify issues that may not seem like a big deal but could lead to bigger problems later on.

As you age, your body changes. You start to lose more muscle and bone mass and may have trouble with tasks that were once easy, like climbing stairs or getting up from your seat. Your balance may deteriorate, and you may feel more tired, weaker, and achier.

„Helping people deal with pain earlier minimizes the likelihood of losing strength and mobility. By maintaining their strength and mobility, they can stay active and in motion, helping them stay safe and independent in their homes,“ says physical therapist Abby Bales, DPT, from Reform Physical Therapy in New York.

For example, Rice, the runner from Arizona, sought treatment for her thigh injury. However, she soon discovered an additional benefit of her regular physical therapy sessions: her balance improved. And with better balance and strength, it’s less likely that Rice will fall.

This is more important than you might think. According to the CDC, one in four older adults falls each year. And falls lead to bone fractures, head injuries, and other issues, especially in older individuals. This can significantly hinder their ability to move independently and lead an independent life as they age.

„Physical therapy can make a big difference in terms of daily life,“ says Rice. „Your overall quality of life depends on your ability to move around the house and engage in everyday activities. It’s huge.“

You may think that physical therapy is only necessary after an injury or surgery, like a fall or knee replacement. However, physical therapy can be beneficial for a variety of conditions.

  • Osteoporosis: More than half of people over 50 suffer from osteoporosis. Regular physical therapy can improve bone health and reduce bone loss.
  • Arthritis: Your physical therapist can prescribe exercises and treatments to relieve pain and increase your mobility, allowing you to do more.
  • Dizziness (Vertigo): With balance issues and dizziness like vertigo, an expert „Vestibular Therapist“ can help.
  • Neurological Disorders: Diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis can be managed with physical therapy to improve daily function and safety.
  • Cancer: For certain types of cancer pain, a PT program can help alleviate pain and maintain strength for daily functioning.
  • Incontinence: Many people experience urinary issues with age, and physical therapists can help manage these problems through targeted exercises and training.

Navigating a new PT program for an older loved one can be challenging. Be as supportive as possible at first, but try not to interfere more than necessary.

If you believe that physical therapy could be beneficial for yourself or a loved one, talk to your doctor. They can recommend physicians who can address your specific needs. Also, ask a friend or colleague for recommendations. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has an online tool to find a physical therapist near you. In some states, you can see a physical therapist without a doctor’s referral.

For more information, consult your insurance provider or the APTA.

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