This year, one-third of all Americans 65 years old and older will experience a fall. Some will quickly brush off the dirt and go about their day, but others won’t be so lucky. The physical therapy profession has long been involved in fall-prevention efforts, guiding our seniors to ambulate safely, maintain mobility longer, and be more independent.
Falls rank among the top burdens on our healthcare system—with $34 billion shelled out for fall-related injuries in 2013 alone—and threaten the health of our nation. Falls land a member of our nation’s elderly population in the emergency department every 13 seconds, and every 20 minutes an older adult dies from fall-related trauma, reports a survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering.
Moderate to severe injuries incurred during a fall can lead to further health declines and loss of independence among our seniors. A team approach with a solid foundation of communication is crucial to adequately prepare for the steady stream of baby boomers crossing the 65-year-old threshold. As part of a medical team, PTs are trained to identify each patient’s risk factors, provide education and preventive strategies, and address impairments. The biggest risk factors for a fall include balance/strength impairments, medication interactions, safety issues in the home and community, and visual impairments.
A new study published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in February 2016 titled “Exercise and Fall Prevention: Narrowing the Research-to-Practice Gap and Enhancing Integration of Clinical and Community Practice,” reinforces the premise that falls are preventable with risk assessment and exercises that incorporate elements of balance, gait, and strength training. In fact, the study says, exercise has been shown to reduce the incidence of falls by up to 40%.
This could be music to the ears of U.S. adults who expressed concern in the Carnegie Mellon survey about an older parent falling, 54% of 1,900 participants to be exact. A PT exercise program to prevent falls among the elderly includes core strengthening, lower extremity resistance exercises and balance training.
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study also reveals some of the evidence-to-practice challenges in addressing this global public health crisis. Falls and their associated healthcare costs can be reduced by better integrating research on exercise intervention into clinical practice and community programs, the study says. As healthcare increasingly embraces prevention and wellness strategies, strong communication between physicians, physical therapists and other key stakeholders will help to capture our elders most at risk for falls. Education, risk assessment, evidence-based falls prevention classes in the community and skilled physical therapy interventions are the basis for a solid plan of attack.
About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org
The automobile industry recommends regular oil changes to keep your car running at its peak performance. Chances are that you adhere to the guidelines outlined in your car manual as closely as possible, and probably even have a favorite business nearby that performs the services.
Just like a car, the human body thrives on a tune up from time to time. People may not be born with maintenance and performance manuals, but we ought to follow the advice and guidelines of trusted medical sources. Members of the Private Practice Section of the American Physical
Therapy Association would like to see scheduling time with a physical therapist to treat and prevent injuries become as routine as going for an oil change.
Educated and trained in the movement and function of the human body, physical therapists help patients reduce pain, restore function, prevent disability and improve workout performance. Contrary to popular belief, the movement specialists don’t just want to see you when you’re sidelined with an injury. They’re also available to teach you exercises that prevent injuries and help you participate more fully in daily activities.
At In Home Therapy of Grand Rapids we prefer to see a person for balance and home safety prior to a fall/injury rather than after a person has a fall and injuries their self. It is easier to improve/correct your balance, strength or home safety before an injury occurs. However, like taking your car in for service after an accident, we will also treat you after an injury.
Just like oil changes are only one piece of a car’s maintenance schedule, physical therapy is part of an overall focus on health and wellness. According to recent research, lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity can have a significant impact on health. For example, being physically active can improve the health of patients with chronic diseases and lead to a better quality of life.
A car is an investment, one that needs to be protected by changing its fluids and otherwise making sure it performs well on the road. Going to physical therapy is one way to protect your biggest investment: Your health. Actively protecting your health improves your chances of living a long, active and productive life.
I look forward to hearing from you for your regular tune up.
Tim Batt, PT
What’s the difference between Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy? That is a common question people have when starting therapy. This article will attempt to explain the difference. First both a Physical and Occupational Therapist are required to be licensed by the state of Michigan. You can verify a license using the state of Michigan website https://w2.lara.state.mi.us/VAL/License/Search.
The American Occupational Therapy Association describes Occupational Therapy as “In its simplest terms, occupational therapists help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services may include comprehensive evaluations of the client’s home and other environments (e.g., workplace, school), recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers. Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team.”
Some therapy clinics refer to Occupational Therapist as the therapist that works on the shoulder, elbow and hand. In the home setting common problems Occupational Therapy works on addressing issues to manage daily activities such as dressing, bathing, cooking.
The American Physical Therapy Association describes Physical Therapy as “Licensed health care professionals who help patients improve or restore mobility, and in many cases helping patients reduce pain, and avoid the need for surgery and the long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects. Physical therapists examine, evaluate, and treat patients whose conditions limit their ability to move and function in daily life. Your physical therapist's overall goal is to maintain, restore, or improve your mobility and help reduce your pain.”
In the home setting common problems Physical Therapy works on addressing are home safety. This includes fall prevention, safety recommendations, equipment recommendations, balance improvement. In addition to these safety issues home physical therapy also treats common musculoskeletal problems like limited shoulder movement/pain, low back pain, neck pain, joint replacement therapy.
Tim Batt, PT
This is a new addition to the website. This first blog is planned to discuss the benefits of receiving physical/occupational therapy in the home. In upcoming editions I plan to discuss the difference between physical and occupational therapy and other issues that need to be discussed.
First, if you receive a referral for physical/occupational therapy you have a choice of which company to work with. Your physician may encourage you to choose one provider but ultimately you have the final decision. Some considerations for choosing a therapist may include insurance coverage, location, experience, and specialty.
I am going to focus on location and specialty. People often think of physical/occupational therapy as a clinic or a building. For most people this is all they are familiar with. However, in addition to this you may receive therapy in the home. For many people this is more convenient. Receiving therapy in the home maybe more appropriate for someone that has transportation issues, young children that you can’t find childcare for or if the issue you are having may be more functional to treat in the home. This may include safety issues with showering, difficulty with dressing, etc.
For most insurances they do cover therapy provided in the home. For instance Medicare has 2 benefit levels: Medicare A and Medicare B. The Medicare A benefit covers therapy in the home, but an individual must meet strict guidelines. For Medicare B, this is the benefit that covers therapy at a clinic. This is also the benefit that covers In Home Therapy of Grand Rapids providing your therapy in the home. Under the Medicare B benefit the strict guidelines of Medicare A are not required.
For the second part experience/specialty. When selecting a therapist to treat your problem, look for someone with experience treating the problem. The therapists at In Home Therapy of Grand Rapids specialize in providing therapy in the home and each one has over 14 years of experience treating clients in their home. This experience can help discover problems that aren’t easily identified without experience. For instance, with home safety having years of experience can identify equipment needs to make the home safer or make the task easier. Some other areas that are addressed can be home safety, use of night lights, having clear pathways to walk. Providing therapy in the home is also beneficial on addressing problems in the real environment rather than in a clinic trying to simulate your bed or your stairs.
If you have any questions feel free to email or call to discuss your situation.
Tim Batt, PT
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