physical therapy

What Type of Physical Therapy is Good for the Elderly?

Physical therapy isn’t just for recuperation after a fall or injury. At Santé, many of our home health care patients receive physical therapy as part of their program. Physical therapy can help senior citizens strengthen weak muscles and increase mobility. It can also improve endurance, so that the patient can enjoy physical hobbies like gardening or golf for longer periods of time.  

Types of Physical Therapy

Nearly all types of physical therapy involve exercise, whether it’s stretching to reduce joint stress or weightlifting to build strength. Typically, a daily regimen is designed specifically for the patient, considering any illness, injury or limitations on movement. Exercises may be performed with or without assistance, depending on the patient’s needs.

Other types of physical therapy include specialized wound care, hydrotherapy, and manual therapy, in which a trained professional manipulates the body to relax strained muscles, improve flexibility or increase circulation. Massage and some forms of chiropractic care fall into this category. Seniors that experience pain or swelling that limits mobility may receive additional forms of therapy such as cold therapy (with ice massage or cold packs) to relieve symptoms.

Daily PT Exercises

Regular exercise is an important component of most physical therapy programs. According to the annual America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report, about 1 in 3 people age 65 or older don’t get enough daily exercise. While you might think that older adults should take it easy and rest, that’s not always the case.

If you don’t have any major physical limitations, the Center for Disease Control recommends a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (like walking) every week. Of course, you’ll want to take your physical condition into account. For example, if you have difficulty with balance, walking around a flat track might be preferred over a treadmill. Consult your doctor or physical therapist for recommendations on a weekly exercise regimen customized for your health and activity level.  

Physical Therapy after a Fall or Illness

Falls are a leading cause of injury for seniors, with about 1 in 4 Americans over 65 experiencing a major fall each year. Rates of illness are also higher, as your immune system may weaken as you age. If you’ve experienced a serious injury or illness, physical therapy will likely be a vital part of your recovery process. Following hospitalization, many patients opt to enter a post-acute care facility such as Santé to continue their recuperation. Here, seniors have access to an orthopedic care team that includes physicians, skilled nurses, and physical therapists trained in anatomy and the musculoskeletal system.   

Whether you are recovering from an injury or illness, or know you’re heading in for a planned surgery, physical therapy can help you gain independence and get back to daily life. Santé offers inpatient and home health care options, with therapy programs geared towards your individual needs. Contact us at 480-563-2402 for more information on our physical therapy programs, or click here to find a Santé location near you.


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