Physiotherapy can be as beneficial to elderly patients as to any subset of the population. Geriatric physiotherapy became a formally recognized specialty within physiotherapy in 1989.
Geriatric physiotherapy deals with problems of several different types in the older population. One type is issues that arise when an elderly person is out of the habit of moving and exercising and using their limbs. Physiotherapists use range-of-motion exercises and other therapies to get the person into better shape and able to function at a higher level.
The idea is not that an 80 year old will be restored to what they were physically at 20, or even 40 or 60, but that they’ll be as active and functional and able to get around as is realistic for them at 80. So they won’t be playing football, just walking or perhaps playing golf.
Geriatric physiotherapy also can help with cardiovascular health. Through such therapies as electrical stimulation, exercise, and aqua therapy, the physiotherapist can help reduce the risk of, or aid recovery from, heart disease or stroke.
The elderly are also highly prone to arthritis, osteoporosis, and other skeletal problems. In light of the fragility of some elderly patients, geriatric physiotherapists use milder, more cautious therapies. But among the things they can work on with elderly patients are basic balance and motion issues to decrease the risk of falls, since what would be a trivial fall in a younger person can often result in significant injuries such as a broken hip in an older person.
People who have had knee or hip replacement surgery sometimes have difficulty getting used to walking and everyday activities due to the changes in their body. Geriatric physiotherapy can use exercise and other therapy during the post-surgery rehabilitation period to make the person more comfortable getting around.
Really the types of therapy that can be used with elderly patients, and the problems that they can help with are great in number. Geriatric physiotherapy can be useful for people suffering from arthritis, balance issues, cancer, cardiovascular issues, dementia, knee and hip issues and replacement surgery, osteoporosis, pulmonary disease, and much more. It’s a safe bet that if you live long enough, you’ll be dealing with some if not most of these problems.
Geriatric physiotherapy provides exercise, massage, etc. aimed at achieving the highest attainable level of mobility, fitness, and overall health, while reducing pain and discomfort.