Four Ways Physical Therapy Is Useful For Nursing Home Patients

Posted on: 8 December 2015


When people hear "physical therapy", they often think it's only something people do to recover from a major injury like a car accident or a broken hip. In truth, physical therapy is not just for recovery. It can also be used to increase the quality of life, provide drug-free pain relief, and prevent future falls or injuries.

  • Improve Flexibility – Physical therapy includes teaching, and encouraging regular stretching exercises. As people age, they become less active, which reduces flexibility. Regular, guided stretches can help to increase blood flow and loosen up tight joints and muscles that might otherwise get little use due to inactivity.
  • Strengthen Muscles – Physical therapists help patients devise a personalized weight-training program that can restore muscle tone and strength. This is especially valuable in a nursing home setting, as many of the patients are ill or infirm and get little chance to maintain muscle mass. With supervised personal therapy, patients can strengthen weak, underused muscles, helping increase healing time as well as overall health.  
  • Increase Independence – Many times, nursing home patients require an extensive amount of personal assistance with their daily living activities. By increasing muscle strength and flexibility, patients are often able to resume much of their own day-to-day care. Even common issues like urinary and fecal incontinence can be improved with physical therapy. By teaching patients how to isolate and strengthen the related muscle groups, physical therapists can help eliminate the need for adult diapers altogether, which can greatly improve the patient's self-confidence, modesty, and emotional well-being.
  • Reduce Pain Medication Dependence – Along with helping to increase strength and flexibility, physical therapy utilizes a number of non-invasive, drug-free techniques to reduce and relieve pain. Massage, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and hot and cold therapy are just some of the techniques that a physical therapist may use as part of a patient's personalized treatment plan to help alleviate chronic and acute pain.

When a person requires nursing home care, it can be frustrating and difficult for them to accept. Physical therapy is an amazing way to alleviate some of this frustration by allowing patients reclaim some of their independence by helping them to take care of themselves. Even tasks as simple as being able to brush one's own hair or use the restroom without help can go a long way to improving a person's outlook and mental well-being. Many of the patients in a nursing home can benefit from a physical therapy program, including those suffering from chronic conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson's disease, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and even urinary and fecal incontinence. 

To learn more, contact a company like Hillcrest Nursing Center