Physical Therapy for the Elderly
Assessment, Treatment, ConclusionInterdisciplinary approach
Physical therapy has an important role in health care delivery, and is connected with maximizing function, preventing decline, decreasing pain, and treating physical illnesses. For elderly individuals, who often have decreased physical reserve, any medical illness can lead to decline. Inactivity and bedrest, a common consequence of illness, contributes to and intensifies muscle weakness, causing deterioration in walking and loss of function. Illnesses, such as Parkinson's disease, fracture, or stroke, can affect walking and balance directly. Chronic diseases, such as arthritis, may cause pain or restriction of movement. Exercise, activity, and other physical therapy interventions can therefore have a profound effect on overall health, restoring an individual's ability to perform the daily activities required to live independently in the community.
The physical therapist typically works closely with other health care professionals, such as nurses, physicians, social workers, and occupational therapists, in order to refine both diagnosis and treatment. This interdisciplinary approach allows for integration of all domains of health to more fully address the needs of the elderly.
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