“Healthy aging” and “aging well” are used quite often, but people outside the aging services or health care sectors rarely understand the full meaning of these phrases. October is National Physical Therapy Month and a wonderful chance to remind the public of the value of physical therapy in supporting the health and independence of America’s older adults.
In the past, physical therapy was perceived as a reactionary profession; most people believe physical therapists (PTs) only work with people after they were injured. This misconception overlooks much of the value physical therapists offer the older adult community to keep them safe and independent. PTs are changing their profession to include treatment of injury and education on preventive strategies that reduce injuries altogether.
Physical therapists are highly trained health care professionals, with an expertise in movement and exercise. Their skills and knowledge base are essential when dealing with the complexities of aging. Physical therapy training includes assessment, exercise prescription, and progression, all with appropriate monitoring. All these skills can be utilized for older adults before injury happens. And if used more in this way, physical therapists can play a key role in the prevention of injury, functional decline, and disability.
Fitness at any age is made up of five key aspects:
Include PTs in your list of options and resources for aging well. The knowledge and expertise they provide can prevent or reduce issues before they arise, and make it easier for you to stay healthy and independent.
By Kele Murdin, PT, MPT
Sometimes pain relief can be accomplished through physical therapy. Physical therapy (PT) involves treatments that focus on prevention and management of injuries or disabilities. PT helps to relieve pain, promote healing, and restore function and movement.
PT is practiced by a professionally trained physical therapist. A physical therapist is a specialist skilled and educated specifically in evaluation and conservative management, including rehabilitation, of orthopaedic, neurologic, and cardiovascular conditions..
How Is Physical Therapy Used to Treat Pain?
A therapist may focus on decreasing pain with either passive or active therapy. Examples of passive physical therapy include:
An important aspect to keep in mind about physical therapy and pain relief is that each individual may respond differently to therapy. People have different types of bodies, different patterns of movement, and different habits. Physical therapists and their trained staff can monitor each individual and attempt to correct improper habits and movement patterns.
WebMD Medical Reference
In addition to medical and surgical treatment, physicians also refer patients to services that provide rheumatoid arthritis therapy practices. These are rehabilitative and therapeutic practices that are focused on restoring joint function, range of motion, and mobility.
Physical therapists deliver the RA therapy, focusing on a better quality of life and overall well-being for their patients.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis Therapy?
Rheumatoid arthritis therapy is combined with a variety of medications to provide a well-rounded individualized treatment strategy. Rheumatoid arthritis therapy is the non-medication aspect of the treatment strategy which is focused on the physical health and daily living routines of the patient.
Rheumatoid arthritis therapy practices help patients to restore their muscle strength, and adjust their daily activities, with the goal of improving physical and emotional wellness. Different types of rheumatoid arthritis therapies focus on different aspects of physical strength and wellbeing.
Rheumatoid arthritis therapy also addresses the extensive consequences that many patients experience in living with the disease. These may include family, social, physical, work or school obligations that can often suffer as a result of the ongoing condition. Targeted RA therapy helps patients overcome these many challenges.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Physical Therapy
Rheumatoid arthritis and physical therapy as part of the treatment plan. Physical therapy focuses on restoring strength and mobility, whereas occupational therapy helps patients adjust their routines and activities to their condition while preventing further joint damage.
There are also therapy specialists that patients can choose to see for specialized treatment. Depending on each patient’s unique case, these may or may not be necessary.
Physical therapists work with rheumatoid arthritis patients to maintain and improve their physical strength. This includes regular physical activity, specific exercises, and other methods to keep joints, bones, and muscles moving and stimulated in safe and controlled ways.
Rheumatoid arthritis patients who work with physical therapists on an ongoing basis find that they have more strength, flexibility, and range of motion due to the regular exercises and activities they perform. Physical therapists are responsible for developing and coordinating exercises plans, and they also actively monitor the patient’s progress.
Here are the ways rheumatoid arthritis therapy is performed by a physical therapist:
Exercise plan: Predetermined exercise routines and activities can help improve strength and flexibility.
Physical exercise also helps patients improve their overall health levels to protect against infection, illness and other diseases like heart and lung conditions.
Heat and ice treatments: Alternating between heating pads and ice packs can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
Massage therapy: Massage therapy can target specific muscles and provide tension release. Massage therapy can also improve overall levels of well-being.
Encouragement and emotional support: Dealing with rheumatoid arthritis can be very challenging and traumatic. Having a professional physical therapist motivate and encourage you provides positive emotional support.
When the diagnosis of RA is made patients can choose to work with physical therapists on a short-term basis or as needed as their symptoms progress later on in the disease course. Many patients work with physical therapists regularly for the majority of their lives.
Massage therapist: A specialist who can treat muscle pain in multiple areas of the body. A massage therapist can also help improve joint stiffness and relieve pain.
Electrical stimulation: Electrical stimulation practices like Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy, can be very effective at relieving pain. These rheumatoid arthritis therapy practices can also improve mobility and joint flexibility.
Thermotherapy: The combination of extreme cold and deep heat to soothe muscles and ease joint pain is called thermotherapy. When extreme cold is used on its own to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, this is a rheumatoid arthritis therapy practice known as cryotherapy.
Hydrotherapy: Physical therapists can also specialize in hydrotherapy, which guides rheumatoid arthritis patients through slow and controlled exercise movements in the water. It’s a relaxing form of exercise and the movements under water help to ease pressure and stiffness in joints.
How Rheumatoid Arthritis Therapy is Included in Treatment
While physical and specialized rheumatoid arthritis therapy treatments won’t cure or stop the disease, they are critical components in helping patients adjust to their disease, improve their quality of life and achieve better health and well-being.
Physical therapy combined with well-rounded medications treatments can allow rheumatoid arthritis patients to live fulfilling and healthy lives despite their disease.
Those who suffer from arthritis, back, and joint pain often dread winter weather. Every broken tree branch carries the reminder of the dangers of the cold, but why do we feel this way when the weather shifts into the snowy season? Physical therapists often treat injuries related to the cold, like those who slip and fall, but there are ways physical therapists can help you alleviate some of the aches from the cold as well.Outside Temps Affect Your Body
When the temperature drops, most people’s inclination is to swaddle themselves up to keep warm. This reaction is due in part to our muscles reacting to the cold – they tighten, contract, and become more rigid as a result. This in itself can cause soreness and aches in your body just due to prolonged contraction of muscles – you might not intentionally be flexing, but thanks to the cold your back, arms, or legs are getting a tiny workout.
Many people think that the reason behind our aches and pains during winter is simply the temperature itself – your body does contract and tighten in cold as opposed to warm, but it is not the only cause.
When you can “feel” weather moving in – unfortunately that does not indicate an intuitive quality, but it is 100% real. Your body can feel shifts in barometric pressure, from your muscles to your brain. It can shift the way your brain registers feelings in conjunction, so while most people joke about predicting the weather with their knee or hands, chances are they do have an ailment that is more sensitive to these changes in weather patterns and pressure. Particularly those with arthritis tend to feel these effects heavily – and generally the lower the pressure, the more painful the arthritis pains.
Pains and body issues will vary for everyone, so a specific seasonal plan can be put in place by your physical therapist to help you manage year-round depending on how severe you experience these changes. Some more common methods of managing body soreness in the winter is simply by creating heat in your body. Things like jumping rope indoors, thoroughly stretching, and keeping your body moving will certainly help warm up your muscles, but you can try different topical heating ointments, or even a heating pad to target certain areas of your body.
Not sure where to start? Contact Ken , Betty , or Colette at Zenergy to learn how you can manage this season’s ailments and put together a treatment plan to manage it long-term. If you are experiencing chronic pain or need help recovering from an injury, get in touch with Ken, Betty, or Colette at Zenergy Physical Therapy. Our highly-trained staff can assist you to get you active and feeling great again!
Contact us today to get started.
Patients who have been diagnosed with type II diabetes require serious intervention to help them control their blood sugar. While medication can certainly help, lifestyle changes – specifically, diet and exercise – are essential to good blood sugar control.
Unfortunately, by the time many patients are diagnosed with type II diabetes, they have already developed medical conditions that can make exercise difficult. They may be obese, have begun to develop or have already developed full-blown diabetic neuropathy, or have developed metabolic syndrome, for example. Because of that, it may be neither safe nor effective to expect patients to begin to undertake exercise on their own. This is where physical therapy can help with diabetes management.
Physical therapists work with diabetic patients frequently, so they are experienced in handling any difficulties and concerns patients may have that might otherwise keep them from exercising. Because they are so familiar with diabetes management through exercise, they can foresee and circumvent just about any problem that may arise when they construct patients' fitness programs, thus making physical therapy even more effective and preventing injury.
Benefits of using physical therapy for diabetes management
Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. This is a time of both hope and anxiety for stroke families: hope that the survivor will make a good recovery; anxiety or fear about what happens next and what to expect.
Of course, the first priority after stroke is stabilizing the patient. Once a hospitalized survivor is medically stable, they may be moved to inpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab is sometimes referred to as acute rehab and requires at least three hours of therapy a day. The goal of inpatient rehabilitation is to return patients safely to their home environment. The average stay is 15 days, although some patients may stay less and others may stay longer. Patients not able to meet the requirements of inpatient rehab may be discharged to a skilled nursing facility. After leaving inpatient rehab, survivors are typically discharged home.
“Once home, survivors may need ongoing therapy to continue to build their strength and return to the activities they pursued before the stroke,” said physical therapist Kim Brennan, administrative director of outpatient therapy and specialized services at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. In that case, survivors may be transitioned to outpatient rehab, either provided in an outpatient clinic or at home through a home healthcare agency. In outpatient therapy, survivors go into a rehab facility, which distinguishes it from home-based therapy. Prescriptions and insurance vary, but outpatient therapy is typically two or three hours, once or twice a week.
“Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required,” said Brennan. “When a patient’s medical status can be managed and monitored without IVs, nursing care and the like, then the patient can be considered for outpatient rehabilitation.”
Outpatient or Home-based Therapy?
The decision of whether to use outpatient or home-based therapy depends on the survivor’s abilities. “If the patient demonstrates difficulty getting in and out of the home, he or she would be a better candidate for home health therapy until he or she is strong enough to regularly attend therapy in an outpatient clinic,” Brennan said. “Stairs can often be a barrier to transitioning out of the house for appointments or community events, and having a therapist come to the house to practice the stairs and negotiate the rest of the home environment can be helpful. Inpatient rehabilitation simulates these activities, but everyone’s home environment is unique and presents different challenges after stroke.”
“Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.” — Physical Therapist Kim BrennanHome therapy is not considered to be part of outpatient therapy; it is a separate level of care. Home health therapy is often recommended when a patient is homebound and may require continued nursing support for issues such as wound care, blood draws, etc., in addition to therapy care.
Bridging Levels of CareAt Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, they offer a program called Day Rehabilitation, which is a bridge from acute inpatient rehabilitation to outpatient therapy. “Day Rehabilitation provides patients with three-to-six hours of therapy three-to-five days per week with the primary goal of community reintegration,” Brennan said. “Upon discharge from this program, outpatient therapy may be considered if ongoing therapy is required.” Not all rehab hospitals have a program like this.
Types of Therapies in Outpatient FacilitiesOutpatient therapy may consist of occupational, physical and speech therapy. Recreational, art, and music therapy may also be offered during inpatient rehab or at a skilled nursing facility. Brennan says that they collaborate closely with their fitness center so that patients have the option to pursue a personalized exercise program with an exercise physiologist upon discharge.
Getting the Most Out of an Outpatient Therapy RxBrennan offered a few recommendations patients should consider for outpatient care:
September is Healthy Aging Month! 7 Healthy Aging Month Tips for Seniors & Caregivers – Family Caregiver Tip
Each year for over twenty years, we have celebrated Healthy Aging Month.
It is a great time to share the latest insights from the experts about how to live a healthy life as we age.
Healthy aging encompasses many aspects of our lives, whether we are family caregivers or senior adults.
The puzzle of healthy aging is composed of pieces such as healthy eating, physical activity, preventive health care, attitude, behaviors, socialization, engagement, positive lifestyle decisions such as smoking cessation and wearing seat belts, lifelong learning, financial well-being, and more.
Tips for Healthy AgingPick a few or work on many of these tips to improve your own and your senior loved one’s lifestyle so that you can begin reinventing yourselves towards better well-being.
Here are 7 tips for healthy aging from Healthy Aging magazine:
Cash-based practices can be a good investment, even for patients with insurance. Contractual requirements from corporate health plans have intruded into the medical provider-patient relationship. Obamacare with its more than 132,000 pages of regulations has added even more layers of red tape creating a bigger wedge between therapists and patients.
Patients experience this wedge when they have to fill out more forms and provide more personal information. They feel it when sitting in waiting rooms much longer than they do in front of a physician. They experience less time with the primary care providers before they are passed on to supportive personnel. They know they are paying more but getting far less.
What are the big benefits for patients?
1. Cost effective careTherapists have the extensive education and training to be neuromuscular primary care experts. For the majority of patients’ with movement problems therapists are the provider of choice. For people with high deductibles, it makes financial sense to pay a therapist for a comprehensive evaluation and treatment.
Fifty percent of Americans will experience some type of musculoskeletal episode each year. Skilled cash based therapists are a third-party-free alternative for self-pay patients.
2. AccessibilityIn most states therapists have direct access. Patients typically have a shorter wait times in a cash practice. Most clinical prediction rules state that the sooner the patient is seen the better the outcome.
Let’s face it, patients are becoming impatient driving around town, filling out insurance forms wherever they go. The busier they are the less tolerate they become with poor customer service.
3. Transparent Affordable PricingFor the self-pay patient finding therapists who offers fair, simple and transparent prices is crucial. Cash based pricing eliminates the added administrative costs when submitting claims to insurance companies. No more “We’ll send to insurance and see what they pay” when both parties know that the charges are coming out of the patient’s pocket.
4. Protected Patient-Therapist Relationship Imagine a practice where that doesn’t demand your insurance card and ID before they say hello. Imagine a practice where money doesn’t get in the way of patients getting to know their therapist.
Taking insurance middlemen out of the equation allows therapists to present themselves as an empathic professional who understands the true cost of healthcare.
5. All Patients Are WelcomeAll patients, insured or uninsured, in network or out-of-network are welcome. Payment is by cash, check or charge. Patients aren’t rejected because of their insurance carrier. Cash practices that are designed for self-pay patients are free from outside interference to address the circumstances and needs of individual patients.
The cash practice alternative seems to satisfy a growing appetite among consumers, especially those who are under 65 and not on Medicare. Today’s healthcare consumer has become embolden to know what care cost and are demanding more transparent pricing.
Just like they do in every other area of their purchasing lives they search online, compare, asks their friends before making a wise purchase.
There is a growing intolerance towards the hidden cost of healthcare. Practices that change their billing practices from the ground up to accommodate the self-pay client will be better prepared for the next generation of healthcare consumers.
Physical therapy may be an option for individuals with autism who need help developing motor skills, have low muscle tone, or have problems with physical systems such as breathing control. Older autistic children can also benefit from carefully constructed exercise programs, which may be led by a physical therapist.
As with other autism therapies, the goals of physical therapy will be determined on an individual basis with the input of parents, physicians, and other members of the autism treatment team. It is good to practice a patient and family-centered care, so the concerns and goals of the family and patient are incorporated into the treatment plan and expected outcomes.
Physical therapy can help someone with autism learn a variety of motor skills, from throwing, catching, and kicking a ball to jumping, hopping, and riding a bike, But there are other less playful physical therapies required by autistic children, such as:
Physical therapists also become involved with rehabilitation after injuries. Occasionally the diagnosis of autism is secondary, For instance, a patient might have had a leg fracture and be in a rehab hospital for physical therapy, but we have to take the diagnosis of autism into account when designing their plan of care and structuring their therapy sessions.
A lot of physical therapy can seem like structured activities. Teaching individuals with autism to be comfortable and competent in their bodies is an important and often enjoyable part of autism treatment.
This generation grew up in a time of rapid change, which gives them different priorities and expectations than previous generations.
In eight years, millenials will make up 75 percent of the U.S. workforce.
Millennials — those age 22 to 35 — are not only the largest living generation today but also became the workforce majority at the end of 2015. In just eight years, they will make up 75 percent of the American workforce.
This generation grew up in a time of rapid change, which gives them different priorities and expectations than previous generations. Their unique upbringing and subsequent values are reshaping our economy in almost every way possible. Think Uber, Fitbit, Airbnb, Etsy, Lululemon and Twitter. Successful companies that continue to adapt as the result of the millennial trend aren’t just changing the products they sell and how they sell them –- they also are changing their cultures.
A healthier generationWith the exception of family, millennials value health the most. In a recent study, 79 percent said family was important in their lives, followed by health and wellness at 53 percent, friends at 39 percent, spirituality at 31 percent and career at 27 percent.
Wellness is a daily, active pursuit for millennials. They are eating healthier and exercising more than previous generations. They smoke less. Almost half consider healthy eating a lifestyle choice as opposed to a goal-driven diet.
Technology has enabled greater access to wellness information and has put personal health monitoring into the palms of their hands. Millennials use apps and technology to stay healthy; and while they are earning less than older generations, they are spending more on health and fitness.
Millennials and career well-beingMost of today’s leaders inherited 20th century institutions, which are known for lack of agility and punching a time clock. Institutions where seniority and top-down management rules. Institutions that value profits over people.
Millennials often are criticized for their lack of loyalty or “job hopping,” but it is critical to note they leave their jobs for one key reason — they do not share these industrial-age values. They value education, higher purpose and collaboration across organizational ranks, and they want to be recognized and rewarded for their ideas and creative thinking.
Along with their prioritization of health and wellness, it isn’t a surprise that millennials expect work-life balance. They are more likely than other generations to view work-life balance — 41 percent — and not enough free time — 36 percent — as major career concerns. Only 29 percent of Gen Xers and 20 percent of baby boomers feel the same.
Leading today’s “wellness generation”As organizations develop strategies to attract, engage and retain millennials, here are a few tactics to consider:
Kenneth Mauck, MPT,