Seniors recovering from injury or illness or those experiencing chronic pain can benefit from physical therapy in many ways. It can help relieve pain and restore physical functions such as flexibility, strength, balance and coordination.
What Is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is a method of treating medical problems or health-related issues. Physical therapists tailor treatment plans to each individual patient using a variety of techniques.
The initial goal for all forms of physical therapy is to reduce any pain and swelling and improve range of motion. For seniors, there are added goals to make activities of daily living easier and allow them to remain as independent as possible.
Physical therapy typically revolves around exercises such as:
- Weight lifting
However, it can also incorporate many other types of therapies, using a trial and error process to find the combination that best serves the patient.
Types of Physical Therapy
Cold therapy utilizes ice packs to relieve pain, swelling and inflammation from conditions like arthritis. This therapy follows the RICE method, which includes:
- Ice massage
It’s not as scary as it sounds! Electrical stimulation therapy uses electrical currents to create a desired effect in the body such as scrambling pain signals to cover feelings of discomfort.
This treatment is often used to contract muscles in stroke survivors and those with arthritis. Electrical stimulation therapy is often used in conjunction with cold laser therapy to improve healing.
Seniors with osteoarthritis and other immobilizing conditions can benefit greatly from heat therapy. In these treatments, heat is applied to the desired area to relax the muscles, improve blood circulation and loosen muscles before exercise.
Hydrotherapy heals soft tissues by increasing blood flow and relaxing the entire body. There are several variations of hydrotherapy treatments, including:
- Aquatic massages
- Sitz baths
- Steam baths
- Pool exercises
Manual therapy is performed by the therapist’s hands with the goal of relaxing the patient, reducing pain and providing more flexibility. These methods vary and can include:
- Massaging the body’s muscles and soft tissues to improve circulation and relieve pain.
- Slowly moving the joints in twisting and pulling motions to help loosen the tissues and increase flexibility.
- Quickly and forcefully moving the bones to re-align them.
Conditions Physical Therapy Helps
Combinations of physical therapy treatments might help older people with a variety of common ailments.
Physical therapy can maintain and restore balance, coordination, strength and may help relieve pain associated with arthritis.
Physical therapy can help strengthen patients’ muscles, maintain better posture and improve balance.
Muscle strengthening exercises can help patients find and use the right muscles correctly. Doing pelvic exercises, for example, helps strengthen muscles to better control the bladder.
Physical therapists design purposeful movement patterns to stimulate and retrain the patient’s brain after suffering a stroke. Constraint therapy restrains the patient’s “good” limb to retrain the weaker limb to perform everyday tasks.
Improving trunk flexibility is the focus of physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease. Patients perform exercises to avoid the robotic movements the disease produces.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s
Exercise can improve memory and delay the onset of more serious memory problems. Mirroring techniques performed by the physical therapist for patients to follow require them to draw on memory to complete.
Therapy and Rehabilitation Programs for Seniors in Atlanta, GA
For over 100 years, A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab has offered the most distinctive short- and long-term rehabilitation care for seniors in the Atlanta area. Our licensed therapists tailor programs to meet the needs of the seniors who stay with us, providing one-on-one treatment using the latest techniques and equipment.
Our key programs include:
- Vital stimulation
- Aquatic (Atlanta location only)
- Pain management
If you’re interested in enrolling in one of our programs, call us at 877-918-6413 today.