5 Benefits of In-Home Physical Therapy
By: Susan McConnell, PT
PT Selfie - Physical Therapists, Brett Wells and Susan McConnell having fun with HR Recruiter, Amy Stone.
October is National Physical Therapy month! Here at Well Care, I'm proud to be part of a clinical team that helps patients recover in the comfort of their own home. I've been with Well Care Home Health for 19 years, and I've seen firsthand how our patients benefit from in-home Physical Therapy. As Physical Therapists, we're movement specialists and trained experts of the musculoskeletal system. It is our passion at Well Care to provide top-notch patient care in this area.
Here are 5 key benefits of in-home Physical Therapy:
1) Prevent falls & major injuries.
As people age, their physical strength and balance tend to decline. This puts patients at risk for falls and opens the door for potential serious injuries. Well Care's Physical Therapists will travel to patients' homes to assess their muscle strength and overall body awareness. We first look for signs to see if there are weak muscles, balance issues, or changes in how someone walks. Our PTs use techniques that measure a patient's bio-mechanics, which is their ability to use their own bodies correctly and efficiently. We then look for certain cues or movements that can cause injuries, teach patients exercises and how to improve posture as needed.
Specifically, our team uses the "Beyond Balance Fall Prevention Program," which is based off of the Otago Exercise Program, a nationally-recognized program that taps into the specific patient population at-risk for falls. The methods used in this popular program significantly reduce the risk for falls. Our PTs work directly with patients to customize the program based on their individual needs. It's truly a win-win for all involved in the care plan.
2) Pain Management.
Physical therapy is an essential tool for pain management. In fact, with the nation's opioid crisis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging health care providers to reduce the use of opioids in favor of safe alternatives like physical therapy.
It's part of a national campaign by the American Physical Therapy Association called #ChoosePT. The campaign urges patients and health care providers to choose physical therapy over medications when possible for safe pain management. While pain is personal to each patient, physical therapy is incredibly effective and can be managed in multiple ways, including with modalities like ice packs, electrical stimulation, TENS, exercise, or stretching. Well Care's Physical Therapists implement a specific course of treatment approved by the individual patient's MD.
Once a care plan is established, our Physical Therapists teach patients effective ways to use their bodies in the most efficient manner possible. This includes education for caregivers, too. Caregivers play a vital role in their loved one's recovery after illness or surgery. As Physical Therapists, part of our job entails showing caregivers how to properly use their own body mechanics in order to protect themselves and the patient. We help patients and caregivers identify potential environmental hazards in the home and teach them certain techniques to decrease the risk of falls. Some of this can be as simple as removing certain objects from the home that may increase the risk of a fall, like area rugs or large pieces of furniture. We will also teach caregivers in particular how to safely transfer patients without injuring themselves.
Part of the education process also includes assessing the need for adaptive equipment, like ramps, hand rails, canes, or walkers if stairs become too much. We'll team up with our Social Work colleagues to facilitate getting this equipment in place so the patient and caregiver remain as safe as possible.
4) Improved Mobility & Surgery Recovery.
For patients who are incapable of getting to an outpatient facility following a major surgery, in-home Physical Therapy may be a necessity, either in the short term or for a longer period of time. Well Care's Physical Therapists come out to the patient's home to continue the skilled care that began in the hospital setting. We ensure all surgical wounds are healing properly, especially after orthopedic surgery. Our PTs test the patient's strength and range of motion, with the main goal of getting them back on the path to complete wellness, improving their functional mobility in the home.
5) Regain Independence & Resume Normal Routine.
While some of Well Care's patients require intensive, in-home physical therapy, others require short term assistance getting back to their normal routines. Our Physical Therapists provide skilled services to help patients resume their typical, every day lives and regain their independence. A pneumonia patient suffering from weakened lung capacity may need to practice walking to the mailbox again. We also help patients get back on track after fighting the Flu, or assist with worsened COPD and Congestive Heart Failure conditions. Based on the patient's specific condition and personal goals, we team up with our clinical colleagues, caregivers, and the patient's doctor to develop a customized treatment plan.
Talk to your doctor about in-home physical therapy, and see if it's right for you. If so -- #ChoosePT! You won't regret it!