Physical therapy has many benefits for seniors. It helps aging patients to live more independently, recover from surgeries and manage the pain caused by any of the conditions that affect elderly people (arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.). It can also help patients to recover from or prepare for surgery, and it’s now available online through virtual physical therapy platforms, making it an accessible option for seniors.
In this article, we’ll dive further into the benefits of physical therapy for seniors.
How does physical therapy help elderly people?
Here are just a few of the ways that physical therapy supports aging patients:
- Reduces fall risk — One out of 4 people over the age of 65 falls every year, and 20% of falls result in a serious injury such as head trauma or a broken bone. Physical therapy offers a way to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility and improve balance, all which can aid in fall prevention. With a reduced risk of falling, patients are able to move better, strengthen their muscles even further and live more active lives.
- Aids in post-surgery recovery — Recovery times can be long for older patients, as our muscles don’t repair themselves as quickly as they do when we’re younger. Physical therapy patients are introduced to therapeutic exercises that strengthen the muscles around the surgery site to expedite recovery times. Therapy treatment can also help reduce some of the pain symptoms that occur after hip surgery, knee replacement surgery and other procedures commonly performed on older patients.
- Helps for surgery preparation — Physical therapy doesn’t just help people recover from surgery; it can also help patients prepare for surgery. “Prehabilitation” helps people to strengthen their muscles before their procedure to limit the amount of atrophy that occurs afterward. Physical therapy can help instill confidence in patients, as they feel more prepared for their procedure and recovery.
- Supports the management of chronic pain — A 2020 study found that 65% of people aged 65 and over struggle with chronic pain. Physical therapy benefits seniors by helping them become stronger and more flexible so that they have an easier time moving and supporting their own weight. Physical therapists also coach patients in how to improve their posture and movements to reduce pain triggers.
- Offers an alternative to pain relief medication — For some patients, physical therapy offers a medication-free method for managing pain. Through therapeutic exercises and movement coaching, physical therapists help patients manage and reduce pain symptoms, sometimes eliminating pain entirely. While physical therapy doesn’t provide pain relief for every patient, it can be beneficial for seniors who want to avoid taking potentially addictive medications.
- Fosters independence — Musculoskeletal pain and fall risk can prevent seniors from performing simple tasks on their own, drastically affecting the person’s independence and quality of life. Physical therapy helps patients become stronger and more flexible, which can decrease their need for assistance.
- Is available online — Virtual physical therapy empowers patients to receive treatment at home using a computer or mobile device. This option is available for seniors and patients of all ages. Virtual therapy offers many of the same benefits as traditional in-person therapy while removing some of the physical barriers that prevent people from seeking treatment. With no travel required, virtual physical therapy can benefit seniors who have reduced mobility.
You are never too old to start physical therapy
Some older people avoid physical therapy because they believe it will no longer work for them, but this is not true. PT treats patients of every age for a range of conditions. It can be particularly beneficial for senior patients who have a high risk of falling, as it can help them improve their balance and live more independently.
Plus, virtually physical therapy makes seeking treatment easier than ever. At Agile Virtual PT, we take pride in our ability to improve the lives of seniors, and we can connect you with a virtual physical therapist.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.