How Physiotherapy Supports Healthy Aging
Updated: Jan 25
Is 80 the new 60? According to Olivia I. Okereke, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, “Not only has life span increased on average, but also healthspan has increased.” Per the new Lieberman study -Because we evolved to be active throughout our lives, our bodies need physical activity to age well.
Our bodies are built to move but as we get older due to demands on our time with family and work, exercise can take a back burner. But to live the fullest life possible exercise is important. If you have the desire to get back into an exercise program but perhaps you are dealing with an existing injury or your range of motion is not what it used to be then a Physiotherapist can help. They are the ideal health professional to assess your current health status and get you moving forward with the right exercise program to support a goal of staying healthy and remaining independent.
What Is Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapists are medical experts in the science of movement. A physiotherapist's mission is a holistic approach to restore, maintain, and make the most of a patient's mobility, function and well-being.
Because they are highly skilled in movement they are trained to observe movement patterns and can identify compensations or alternate movement patterns an individual may be experiencing. This allows them to catch problems that might not seem big at the time but if the patient continues with their compensations it can lead to a bigger issue in the future. As they catch aches and pains early patients are less likely to lose strength and mobility.
Physiotherapy works through physical rehabilitation, injury prevention, and health and fitness. Physiotherapists often work as part of a multidisciplinary team in various areas of medicine and settings which include:
Sports Teams, Clubs
Benefits of Physiotherapy as We Age
The effectiveness of physiotherapy has been well documented and studied. There is a large proportion of evidence to suggest that physiotherapy will assist in a person’s recovery and overall quality of life. As we grow older our bodies usually experience a decrease in muscle strength, bone density, body coordination, and even stiffer joints, which sometimes can lead to falls and fractures.
Exercise may be the key for bringing back and sustaining the physical function required in daily living. Exercise programs set by a physiotherapist can help in reducing body pain, enhancing the movement of joints, facilitating coordination, and boosting respiratory function.
Older individuals suffering from chronic diseases can also obtain benefits from physiotherapy.
Though physiotherapy cannot stop the process of aging it can help to reduce the impact that it has on our bodies. Exercising on a regular basis can also help to reduce the risk and impact of illnesses that are more likely to affect older people.
Conditions Where Physiotherapy Treatment is Helpful
Physiotherapy treatment can be helpful in dealing with the following conditions:
Changes in Posture and Balance Instability - Balance impairment as we age is due to the loss of normal functioning of muscles and bones. It is normally caused due to arthritis and numbness in feet and legs, eye problems, blood circulation problems, and intake of multiple medicines. Physiotherapy treatment includes balance exercises to help improve the function of muscles & bones in individuals having neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
Stability Decline - Physiotherapy helps to maintain stability. The physiotherapist teaches the patient to adapt to visual, mobility, balance, and muscle loss impairments to easily complete the activities of daily living. This awareness helps to reduce the risk of injuries and re-injury. Patients who have had a heart attack, or have other cardiovascular or pulmonary conditions can benefit from physiotherapy by following a treatment regime that helps them to increase endurance and gain functional independence.
Risk of Falling - Falls are the leading cause of accidents among aged individuals, in fact 1 out of every 4 older persons falls each year.These falls often result in bone fractures and other injuries. A physiotherapist can train the individual in techniques to prevent a fall.
Maintaining Independence - Recovery from pain due to an illness or injury allows the individual to lead an active and independent life for a longer period of time. Stretching and strengthening exercises are proven to be effective for older people.
Reducing Joint Pain and Restoring Mobility - Movement is dependent on the range of motion of the joints of the body. Range of motion can be limited by either the joints themselves or by the muscles, nerves and connective tissue that surround the joints. There are different conditions that lead to the joints feeling stiff and painful as well as limited mobility. Physiotherapy treatments such as certain electric modalities, muscle-strengthening and stretching are good options for reducing joint pain and improving range of motion.
Physiotherapists recognize that each individual is unique. Therefore each treatment program is tailored to the individual's specific needs.Programs include strengthening exercises, range of movement (ROM), balance, and walking exercises. Exercise programs can include some or all of the following:
Physiotherapy includes exercises, workouts, and the use of electric modalities such as Ultrasound, Shockwave therapy and Laser, etc.
Muscle-strengthening exercises are done twice a week, one of the best treatments for osteoarthritis and bone health.
Moderate intensity activity like brisk walking is recommended.
Strengthening exercises for muscles can be done against resistance, by using stretchy bands.
Combination of moderate cardio, endurance, and balance exercises.
Our team at Couve Health are movement experts, trained in improving strength, range of motion, and overall function of the body. If you are dealing with aging issues or the lingering effect of a past injury we can work with you on an individualized program to put you on a path to an active lifestyle.