October is National Physical Therapy Month

physical therapyOctober is National Physical Therapy Month. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits of physical therapy for all ages, including senior citizens. Thanks to physical therapy, many older adults are able to improve mobility, manage pain and recover from injury. If, at any time, you feel that you or a loved one can benefit from physical therapy, ask your doctor for a referral.

In the meantime, let’s cover the different conditions that physical therapy can help with and the benefits of adding this therapy to your care regimen.

Who Can Benefit from Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a great choice for seniors who are recovering from injury or illness, as well as those suffering from chronic pain. Physical therapy helps to relieve pain, restore physical functions and make daily tasks easier. This allows seniors to live independently for as long as possible.

Here are some of the most common conditions that physical therapy can treat:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Vertigo
  • Stroke
  • Incontinence
  • Pain in the body

What Physical Therapists Do

Older adults have to go through a lot of things like blood tests, bone density scans, MRIs and other testing. So, they are often happy to hear that physical therapy is non-invasive. In fact, physical therapy is safe enough for newborns! Each plan is tailored to the individual’s needs, strengths and weaknesses. This ensures that each treatment plan is safe, effective and comfortable.

The first thing that physical therapists focus on is reducing pain and swelling. Various techniques are applied to help with flexibility, strength, coordination and balance. Typically, these exercises include stretching, lifting weights and walking. It’s important to be patient, as there is some trial and error to this. Eventually, patients find the things that work for them.

Types of Physical Therapy

There is not one specific type of physical therapy but many. Knowing the differences between them can help patients choose the right fit.

  • Manual therapy. This type of therapy is performed by the physical therapist. The goal is to relax the patient, reduce pain and improve flexibility.
  • Cold therapy. Cold therapy relieves pain, inflammation and swelling. Treatment involves applying ice for 15-20 minutes, then massaging and rest. This therapy is best for arthritis.
  • Heat therapy. The benefit to heat therapy is that it relaxes the muscles and improves circulation. It works well for osteoarthritis and other conditions that make the joints stiff.
  • Hydrotherapy uses water to heal soft tissues, increase blood flow and relax the body. Aside from treating specific ailments, it also improves overall health.
  • Electrical stimulation. This therapy uses electrical currents to create certain effects in the body. It’s generally used in individuals who have suffered a stroke.

Physical therapy offers a wide range of benefits to older adults. If this therapy has been recommended to you or a loved one, rest assured that it’s safe, effective and comfortable.