October 1, 2019

October is National Physical Therapy Month, an annual campaign led by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) to raise awareness of the benefits of physical therapy.

This year, the APTA selected the theme “Choose PT” to encourage people to choose physical therapy as a way to improve mobility, manage pain, recover from injury, and prevent future injury and chronic disease.

In recognition of National Physical Therapy Month, we’re providing some helpful information on the benefits of physical therapy for seniors.

Who are physical therapists?

Physical therapists are licensed professionals who provide expert care, prescribe exercise, and educate patients on pain-free movement. As the APTA puts it, “physical therapists teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition so that they will achieve long-term health benefits.”

Who needs physical therapy?

Physical therapy can help people of all ages, but it can be particularly beneficial for older adults who are experiencing limited mobility, frailty, or joint pain. Physical therapy treatment is also commonly recommended for older adults as they recover from a fall or joint replacement surgery.

However, physical therapy isn’t just for those who are currently in pain or injured. Proactive physical therapy can prevent joint discomfort and future injuries, improve mobility, and promote healthy aging. 

What are the benefits of physical therapy for older adults?

Improved strength and balance

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults, and it’s estimated that 1 in 4 American adults over the age of 65 will fall each year. Falls are not only dangerous; they are also costly. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about $50 billion is spent each year on non-fatal fall injuries and $754 million is spent on fatal falls. Fortunately, falls are preventable, and physical therapy is one way to help.

Physical therapists are skilled at assessing potential movement problems, including an individual’s risk of falling. In physical therapy, core strengthening and balance training exercises are often prescribed to help older adults protect themselves against future falls and injuries. Working one-on-one with a physical therapist can also help older adults overcome the fear of falling and gain more confidence in their ability to exercise safely.

Safe pain management

In light of growing concerns about opioid dependency, the CDC has recommended health care providers reduce the use of opioids for long-term pain management in favor of alternatives such as physical therapy. In situations when opioids are prescribed and dosed appropriately, the CDC recommends a treatment plan that also includes nonopioid therapies, such as physical therapy. The APTA states, “physical therapists can play a valuable role in the patient education process, including setting realistic expectations for recovery with or without opioids.”

Stay active and independent

Contrary to popular opinion, getting older doesn’t have to mean losing one’s mobility and independence. Physical therapy plays a key role in helping older adults improve their strength, balance, and mobility so they can continue doing the activities they love. Participating in a regular exercise routine is also known to help prevent chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis. With the strength and confidence gained through consistent physical therapy treatment, seniors can remain active and enjoy life to the fullest as they age.

The state-of-the-art Bethany Rehabilitation Center provides easy access to quality rehabilitative care and physical therapy treatment in the comfort of our beautiful Bethany Village community. To learn more about the Bethany Rehabilitation Center, please contact us today. We would be delighted to speak with you!