Therapy in senior rehabilitation centers helps seniors who are in need of recovery from pain and injury. Every rehabilitation center is different and caters to various needs. Seniors enroll in a rehabilitation center when they are suffering from physical, psychological, or social/communication problems. In particular, there are three main types of therapies that are utilized in senior rehabilitation centers: physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology. It is important for seniors to enroll in a rehabilitation center if they are starting to undergo problems related to aging. Keep reading to learn about how therapy in senior rehabilitation centers could help relieve your pain and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Geriatrics | Therapy in Senior Rehabilitation Centers
Physical therapy is focused on helping a person regain their mobility to recover from their physical injuries. Physical therapists work with seniors to incorporate fitness and health into their daily lifestyle. Within rehabilitation centers, physical therapists incorporate physical activities and the use of assistive devices to help seniors regain their strength and alleviate pain from their joints.
PT for Arthritis Treatment
Arthritis is an inflammation of one’s joints that causes pain and stiffness. Two of the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis (OA) commonly occurs in the knee, lower back, and neck, as well as small joints in the fingers and toes. This is caused by a fracture of a cartilage that exists within the bones. Over time, these broken cartilages surround the joint(s) and create pain around the area. Seniors over 65 are more likely to develop OA. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation states that “one in four adults will develop symptoms of hip OA by age 85.”
On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease where one’s immune system attacks his/her joints, which causes inflammation and the swelling of tissue lines within the joints, causing pain. The Arthritis Foundation states that “about 1.5 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis (RA)” with this disease occurring in people ages 30-60.
Physical therapy could be used as a treatment for arthritis. For seniors suffering from arthritis, physical therapy helps seniors engage in physical activities to alleviate their pain and strengthen their mobility. Specifically, physical therapists help seniors engage in exercises as well as properly use assistive devices if necessary for their activities. Physical therapists tailor their treatment programs based on the location of the pain as well as the senior’s overall condition. This helps physical therapists modify activities to refrain from placing too much pressure on the seniors’ joints.
Occupational therapy is a form of rehabilitating therapy that focuses on helping patients maintain their activities of daily living (ADL). Occupational therapy looks at the patient’s environmental, physical, and cognitive aspect of rehabilitation to guide them towards being able to conduct their daily activities. This form of therapy in senior rehabilitation centers guides seniors to regain their ability to engage in their daily routines such as getting dressed and eating by themselves. Occupational therapy works towards promoting independence and self-reliance in its patients.
OT for Dementia Treatment
Dementia is an umbrella term for a brain disorder that affects memory loss and can affect one’s psychological skills. Among seniors, dementia is commonly related to Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia. Occupational therapy is a great form of treatment for dementia because it helps seniors incorporate various strategies to help them deal with memory loss. In senior rehabilitation centers, occupational therapists help seniors simplify their daily activities to aid their dementia. Occupational therapists help seniors communicate with others about their needs. They can also help manage the balancing lifestyles of a senior as well as recommend assistive devices to help them navigate their ADLs. Overall, occupational therapists help seniors suffering from dementia gain rehabilitation over their psychological and social well-being.
Another form of therapy in senior rehabilitation centers that are used for seniors is speech-language pathology. Speech-language pathology focuses on improving a person’s ability to communicate; it focuses on a person’s speech, language, and swallowing skills. Seniors who are in need of rehabilitation from stroke, head injury, or those experiencing vocal injuries.
SLP for Stroke Treatment
The National Stroke Association defines a stroke as an attack on the brain that takes place when blood flow to the brain is severed. As a result, brain cells are destroyed, causing loss of control from that part of the brain. Among the list of effects, strokes can cause paralysis, memory loss, speech problems as well as changes in one’s behaviors.
Speech-language pathologists heavily focus on rehabilitating deficits in muscle weakness within communication. Seniors enrolled in rehabilitation centers can undergo speech therapy to treat their communication problems (aphasia) as well as swallowing problems (dysphagia). Treatments can include exercises in conversations such as word retrieval in one-on-one sessions or in group sessions to encourage participation in the patient(s). Speech-language pathologists may encourage patients to utilize various forms of communication (e.g. sign language) to help them with their communication problems. SLPs also examine and develop strategies based on the severity and patterns that they see in their patients’ swallowing difficulties to help treat dysphagia.
Image courtesy of Johns Hopkins Medicine