GERIATRIC PHYSIOTHERAPY Helps the elderly stay agile

January 27, 2021

As we humans grow older, we become susceptible to different agerelated conditions. Arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, cancer, fractures, joints that require replacement, stroke, decreased body balance, incontinence, and what not! The aged therefore requires special care and attention. That’s where physical therapy comes in. Geriatric physical therapy isn’t just the route to wellness, it also focuses on the treatment of the above mentioned conditions, thereby helping to improve the lifestyle of the adult population

Orthopaedic physical therapy, for instance, focuses on damage and injuries to musculoskeletal variety, as well as assists in recovery after orthopaedic surgeries.

For the aged with cardiovascular conditions, cardio pulmonary physiotherapy plays an important role. For those who have had a heart attack, or those with weak lungs, breathing issues, etc., physiotherapy will work wonders in improving their endurance,as also promote functional independence. Finally, people with neurological conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, physiotherapy will help improve their balance and mobility, thus enabling them to carry on their day to day activities. Today, when we’re witnessing a pandemic, we know how susceptible elderly people are, and how physiotherapy is helping them with breathing exercises to enable them to enhance their endurance, mobility and physical functions. Physiotherapy is hence an important and integral part of the treatment for Covid-19.

Geriatrics and Physiotherapy

Geriatrics is the branch of medicine that focuses on health care of the elderly. It aims to promote health and prevent and treat diseases and disabilities in older adults.

Physiotherapy plays an important role in geriatrics rehabilitation. Geriatric physiotherapy became a speciality in the study of physical therapy in 1989. Since then, physiotherapist have worked to understand the problems facing the ageing population. There is a long list of problems geriatric physiotherapists deal with including Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Balance disorder, Cancer, Cardio Vascular Diseases, Incontinence, Joint replacement, Pulmonary diseases, Stroke, etc.

Three major areas

  • Deconditioning: A problem that occurs because the patient simply doesn’t use his limbs. This problem can be addressed by reconditioning the body through a range of movements and strengthening the exercise pattern.
  • Cardio Vascular Diseases: For conditions like heart disease and stroke, exercise, aqua therapy, electrical stimulations and more therapy can be used.
  • Musculoskeletal problems such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis: Owing to osteoporosis, the aged suffer from issues like lack of balance and steadiness in gait. Geriatrics physiotherapy helps in restoring body balance and gait, thus preventing people falling down.

Benefits of geriatric physiotherapy

Geriatric physiotherapy aims to help the elderly to maintain functional independence and overall well-being. It also helps in:

  • Improving and managing the range of motions of various joints.
  • Maintaining the strength and endurance of the muscles.
  • Performing day to day activities without the need of a helping hand.
  • Building strength and stability required for independent living.

Why it’s important

As we age, our body undergoes multiple degenerative changes, leading to loss of strength in muscle tone which restricts mobility and flexibility. We experience changes in social and emotional functioning with the increase in age, affecting our quality of life and general well being. Geriatric care is important as it involves a sequence of preventive and intervening measures that provide the elderly the care and support essential to improve and manage their functional independence and quality of life.

By Venkatesh Kumpala

Mr. Venkatesh Kumpala is the Consultant Physiotherapist at Indiana Hospital

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