Cedar Rapids-area residents whose health care providers recommend physical therapy aren’t always sure where to start.
Luckily, physical therapists are always happy to explain to them, their family members and any caregivers what physical therapy is all about and why everyone of any age or health condition can benefit from it.
The staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care can answer questions from patients or others and explain the different types of therapy and other care options available. The home health care agency that serves eastern Iowa utilizes the skills of two talented physical therapists and two physical therapy assistants who are happy to offer their services to help patients feel better and reduce any pain.
Explaining physical therapy
There are a lot of misconceptions about physical therapy. Some people may think of it as something that is only needed for specific trauma, such as a car accident, a fall or other injuries, and when that specific condition is improved, it isn’t needed any more.
While this type of physical therapy is common, there are a lot more options available that can help people as they age.
Generally, physical therapy can be help people who are recovering from any sort of pain, from recent injuries to general muscle aches and tension from other health conditions, such as a stroke.
A physical therapist can move limbs or other body parts to help reduce pain, swelling and inflammation, which can reduce pain from past injuries that may be hurting recently, new pain such as osteoarthritis, or sore back, shoulders, knees or other joints.
He or she can create a series of exercises for the patient to perform on their own, and then help them with other exercises during their regular visits such as stretches, bands or weights. Physical therapists have had training in what types of techniques and motions can best improve flexibility, reduce pain and build up strength.
With seniors, physical therapy can lower the risk of them falling by improving balance; lower the need for pain medications if pain levels are reduced; improve other health conditions; and help them stay as independent as possible. It can also have extra benefits as improving one’s confidence and removing fear of falling or experiencing pain.
Physical therapy differs from occupational therapy, which has specific purpose of helping someone build up specific skills so they can either return to work or perhaps get around on their own in their home, such as getting in and out of bed unassisted or cooking a meal.
Another misconception about physical therapy is that it’s all the same. In reality there are different types of PT that can use different tools, can benefit different muscles and body parts or focus on health conditions.
These can include:
- Orthopedic physical therapy. This approach focuses on the musculoskeletal system, which could include anything from general soreness to if the patient is recovering from orthopedic surgery. The general approach is to restore and improve function to bones, joints and muscles, plus increase the performance and flexibility of tendons and ligaments.
- Neurological physical therapy. Some degenerative diseases or condition may affect the brain as well as the body, so a physical therapist may help someone focus on re-learning some basic skills or adapting if there are new physical or mental impairments. While some conditions or brain injuries may be permanent, a physical therapist can assist with learning everything from basic balance to dealing with changes in vision.
- Cardiopulmonary physical therapy. People who have suffered a heart attack or related cardiac events may need to focus on improving their endurance and independence. This can include lung or respiratory conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. A therapist familiar with a patient’s medical history can create programs and techniques especially for people with these types of heart or lung challenges.
- Geriatric physical therapy. This type of therapy focuses more on common health conditions that can especially affect aging adults, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, cancers, joint problems or joint replacement. The goal can be to generally improve fitness levels and general mobility.
Physical therapists can utilize various tools to help seniors with different conditions.
For instance, carefully applied electrical stimulation can sometimes help with nerve pains. Depending on how and when they’re used, cool and heating pads can both reduce inflammation and muscle pain.
Some injuries, such as strokes, may require extra attention to affected areas that have lost motion. Physical therapists can, for instance, help someone regain use of an arm, hand or leg by not using the working limb. This also may require some mental effort, since people must instruct and visualize what a non-working limb should be doing during therapy.
Seniors can be given other exercises for specific health conditions, such as pelvic exercises for incontinence.
Above and Beyond Home Health Care makes it even easier to provide Cedar Rapids area residents with physical therapy by visiting patient homes, instead of requiring the patient to visit the therapist offices themselves. This can allow patients to be happy, comfortable and secure while they exercise in their own home.
For more information about physical therapy options for seniors, visit Above and Beyond Home Health Care .