These Geriatric Physical Therapy Exercises Can Prevent Serious Injuries
It’s no secret that elderly people are typically more vulnerable to certain injuries than those that are younger. Numerous factors – such as limited mobility – put them at a greater risk of common accidents, like falls. Arthritis is also a condition where pain management is necessary. However, studies show elderly people are also more likely to sustain severe or even life-threatening injuries as a result of such accidents. That’s why it’s extremely important for older adults to mitigate these risks. This is where geriatric physical therapy comes into play.
Geriatric physical therapy can help. By coordinating with a Geriatric Certified Specialist (GCS) in physical therapy, older adults can learn how to maintain balance and stay safer throughout their daily life.
There are various geriatric physical therapy exercises that may help. Keep in mind that while you may be able to perform them on your own, it’s also smart to work with an expert to learn proper techniques. A Geriatric Certified Specialist in physical therapy will help you learn how to perform the following movements as safely as possible, as well as to treat common injuries and ailments at the same time.
Basic Geriatric Physical Therapy Balance Exercises
Standing on One Leg is a Geriatric Physical Therapy Technique That Tests Balance
Balance disorders are among the leading contributors to injury in elderly people. Thus, learning how to stay balanced is key to avoiding harm.
This doesn’t necessarily involve performing difficult movements. To get started, you can hold onto a chair or other supportive fixture, and balance on one leg. The aim here is to try to maintain the center of gravity of your ankle.
After a few moments, switch to the other side. This basic physical therapy exercise for the elderly helps to provide a baseline idea of how strong your sense of balance currently is. For geriatric patients, a few symptoms may impact balance. These include dizziness, arthritis, headaches, knee or back pain, or something more serious like Multiple Sclerosis.
Wall Push-ups With the Supervision of a Geriatric Specialist in Physical Therapy Improve Balance
Wall push-ups are often effective at helping elderly people strengthen their sense of balance. This geriatric physical therapy exercise involves standing arm’s length from a wall, maintaining a firm footing, and leaning towards the wall (with feet still planted on the ground). Then, perform a basic push-up motion vertically. Repeat approximately 15 times.
You should perform this exercise under the supervision of a Geriatric Certified Specialist in physical therapy first. They can track your form to make any proper adjustments. Also, they’ll make sure you don’t fall when pushing yourself back to the original position. Having proper form when performing this exercise helps improve balance and posture, which is helpful for those experiencing conditions like osteoporosis. Bone health is important to consider, no matter how old you are.
This type of exercise is also a great way to re-train and strengthen your rotator cuff after an injury. Pain management and physical therapy techniques should help patients, but they also need to challenge them.
Work With a Certified Specialist in Physical Therapy on Heel to Toe Walk
This is another exercise that should be performed in the presence of someone familiar with geriatric patient-centric therapy exercises at first. It involves a degree of movement that can make it challenging when you first attempt it.
Start by placing a length of tape along the floor in a straight line measuring about 10 feet. The goal is to walk across the straight line by bringing the heel of one foot in front of the other foot so it touches the toes. Repeat with the next foot until you have walked the entire length.
The Staggered Stance Geriatric Physical Therapy Exercise Prepares You for Heel to Toe
If the above exercise is too difficult at first, this modified version (also known as “staggered stance”) can help you improve your balance until you’re ready to try the heel to toe walk again.
Place a chair directly next to the length of tape from the previous exercise. Start by standing with your feet together and your hands at your side. Step forward with your right foot if the chair is to your left, or your left foot if the chair is to your right. Bring the heel of the foot to your toes. Keep yourself steady by holding onto the chair with the closest hand.
Remain in this position as long as you feel you can comfortably maintain your balance. Eventually, you’ll reach the point where you’re able to attempt the full heel to toe walk again.
General Pain Management Conditions for Geriatric Physical Therapy Patients
The overall goal of geriatric physical therapy is to help patients regain balance, mobility, and strength. For these reasons, many physical therapists treat patients that have been diagnosed with diabetes. Though much of the population has this diagnosis, it makes life extremely difficult for the geriatric population. Common diabetes exercises include many of the ones listed above, making physical therapy an ideal choice for managing this condition. Seeing a specialist not only helps build strength, but it improves confidence over time, too.
Physical Therapy for Geriatric Exercise
Remember that although these balance exercises help prevent injury, the safest way to learn them is to work with a Geriatric Certified Specialist in physical therapy at first. Studies confirm that elderly people who work with physical therapists to strengthen their balance are less likely to experience such common accidents as falls.
To find a physical therapist that can assist with your or an elderly loved one’s treatment, use the BetterPT clinic location tool website, or download the app. For patients that don’t feel comfortable or cannot get to a clinic for appointments, consider using telehealth. The BetterTelehealth platform gives you access to physical therapy in the comfort of your own home. Convenient, right?
By coordinating with a professional Geriatric Certified specialist in physical therapy near you, you can learn how to keep yourself safe and injury-free for years.