2015-07-01 by Mark Harrington
Canada’s senior population is growing. By 2030 – when even the youngest Baby Boomers will be 65 –seniors will make up 23% of our country’s overall population. With that dramatic increase will come a sharp rise in need for physiotherapists. Here’s why: seniors are at a much higher risk of falling than younger members of the population, and physiotherapists are some of the best health care professionals to help prevent those falls.
Physiotherapists and physiotherapist assistants help patients recover from and prevent injuries. They can help seniors improve balance, flexibility, and walking challenges that often lead to falls.
Read on to find out just how important physiotherapy is for seniors, and why preventing falls is an important part of keeping our aging population healthy and active.
The Danger of Falls for Seniors
Seniors are suffering falls at an alarming rate. Almost a third of seniors fall every year, and while half of those falls won’t lead to serious injury, the other half will.
Falling can cause injuries such as:
- head trauma/ concussion
- broken wrist, foot, leg, pelvis, back, and hip bones
- chronic anxiety about falling again
- loss of mobility and independence
- paralysis from spinal injuries
In addition, seniors that can’t get up after falling might be trapped until someone comes to help them. Depending on how long a senior is stuck lying on the floor, they can suffer from other injuries such as pressure sores, dehydration, hypothermia, starvation, or even death.
Because of the serious dangers that may accompany a bad fall, it’s crucial for seniors to take a preventative approach by working with a professional with physiotherapist assistant training.
Physiotherapists Evaluate their Patients and Provide Personalized Exercise Programs
Professionals with a physiotherapist assistant diploma begin treating their patients by first conducting a thorough evaluation.
They evaluate their patient’s:
- gait (walking ability)
- medical history
Once they have determined which areas need improvement, they recommend exercises and treatment programs that will target the patient’s specific needs. Classes such as tai chi or fall prevention classes taught by a professional with physiotherapy training are great ways for seniors to strengthen their muscles and prevent falls.
Physiotherapy Modalities Can Help Seniors Increase Range of Motion
For some seniors, the best treatment will include regular visits to their physiotherapy clinic so that they can utilize modalities that will increase their range of motion and treat any imbalances in their posture or muscles.
Physiotherapy modalities such as trigger point dry needling help release tension in tight muscles that could be causing balance problems. The physiotherapist will place acupuncture needles in the affected areas, and those needles will allow the muscles to twitch, lengthen, and resolve the trigger point –leading to a relaxed muscle and better balance.
Seniors Can Make Their Homes Safer with the Help of a Professional
Physiotherapists and physiotherapist assistants are excellent at giving advice to seniors about minimizing the risk of falling at home. Physiotherapist assistant courses teach students effective communication skills, which they will use to convey the importance of home safety, and make practical suggestions patients can use to improve safety in their living space.
These tips may include:
- install sturdy hand rails on stairs
- secure rugs so that they don’t slip, or get rid of rugs altogether
- install grab bars in bathrooms near the bathtub, shower, and toilet
- place non-slip mats in the tub and shower
- install proper lighting in staircases and other risky areas
Are you considering becoming a physiotherapist assistant? Visit the National Academy of Health and Business for details about our training program, or to speak with an advisor.
2015-04-22 by Mark Harrington
Kinesiology is commonly considered a complementary health science, which can be used in accompaniment with medicinal or physical health treatments—such as physiotherapy. In the simplest terms, kinesiology is the study of movement in the musculoskeletal system. The knowledge gained from this study is used to correctly identify any improperly functioning muscles and bones.
Students earning their physiotherapist assistant diploma know that physiotherapy is designed to manage a patient’s existing injuries by applying routines which optimize muscle movement and physical activity. It’s no surprise then, that kinesiology is commonly confused with physiotherapy. In fact, kinesiologists often work with physiotherapists to treat patients.
Read on to discover exactly what kinesiology is, and how it can be used hand in hand with physiotherapy to rehabilitate patients.
Physiotherapist vs. Kinesiologist
While physiotherapists address a patient’s mobility issues, a kinesiologist’s job is to study the mechanics of the human body, and determine why certain body parts may function incorrectly. Kinesiologists are often employed in medical research industries, researching the various complications of the human musculoskeletal system. In contrast, physiotherapists focus specifically on hands-on treatments to target issues with physical movement.
Kinesiology for Injury Prevention
The main objective of kinesiology is to prevent injuries from occurring, through the promotion of physical activity and healthy body choices. This is different from a physiotherapist, who works with patients to rehabilitate their bodies after an injury has already occurred.
Kinesiologists know that regular physical therapy can actively work to reduce a patient’s risk of injury and chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Through the promotion of physical activity, kinesiology also helps strengthen muscles and bones, improve mental health, and even help extend the independence of elderly patients.
How is Kinesiology Used in Physiotherapy?
Students taking physiotherapist assistant courses might be wondering: what does kinesiology have to do with my area of study? While injury prevention is one goal of kinesiology, so is injury management and performance enhancement. Physiotherapists will often use kinesiology in their patient treatments, or even have kinesiologists on their rehabilitation team along with physiotherapist assistants. A kenesiologist’s expertise in the function of the human body is of indispensable value in the treatment of a patient’s injuries.
Professionals entering a physiotherapist assistant career have likely heard of kinesio taping. Kinesio taping is often used in physiotherapy specifically for treating athletic injuries. This special tape, which is similar in texture and elasticity to human skin, works to give support and stability to muscles and joints. The technique for applying the tape to the body is based on knowledge of the placement of muscles, the flow of the circulatory system and the locations of other musculoskeletal systems which are featured in kinesiology.
What do you know about kinesiology? How will you apply your knowledge of kinesiology to the treatment of patients?
2015-03-04 by Mark Harrington
If you’ve ever been in a car accident, or suffered from a sports injury, you may have received physiotherapy to aid in the healing process. Physiotherapy is also applied to patients with amputations, arthritis, strains (especially in the spine), or who have had any sort of medical operation. Physiotherapy helps make movement and everyday living easier for a patient through a series of treatments that are tailored to each patient’s needs. If you’re thinking of becoming a physiotherapist assistant, here are some of the most common treatments you’ll discover in your physiotherapist assistant courses, and the benefits associated with each technique.
Range of Motion (ROM) Exercises
Although rest is often prescribed during preliminary stages of recovery from broken bones or surgery, extended periods of immobility may actually prolong or thwart the healing process. For this reason, physiotherapists often prescribe range of motion exercises to promote movement, encourage joint mobility and facilitate circulation. Frequently moving the affected joints and muscles will prevent muscle atrophy and related postural problems. ROM exercises are used by a range of healthcare practitioners – for example, students learn range of motion techniques in personal support worker training to help patients with restricted mobility improve their flexibility and maintain their independence.
Soft Tissue Mobilization
Also referred to as therapeutic massage, soft tissue mobilization can help relax a patient’s muscles and reduce swelling in certain areas, making this treatment excellent for relieving pain associated with athletic injuries. Soft tissue massage also helps circulate blood and lymph flow, and reduce tissue swelling around the inflamed joints.
Electrotherapy is a more recent evolution of energy-based physiotherapy techniques. In this form of treatment, electrical stimulation is provided by attaching electrodes to the skin. The electrodes cause the muscles to shorten, which in turn helps prevent atrophy—best used in patient with paralysis or severely reduced range of motion. Electrotherapy may also be used in conjunction with laser and ultrasound therapy.
Cryotherapy and Heat Therapy
Sore, stiff muscles are a common complaint of both people with desk jobs and professional athletes. If a patient complains of muscle tightness anywhere on their body, it may be beneficial to apply heat or cold to the aggravated areas. Heat therapy includes the application of hot packs or even paraffin wax. Cryotherapy may involve ice pack application or an ice massage.
Anyone studying to become a physiotherapist assistant is probably familiar with the colourful, neon tape that is sometimes used on patients. Kinesio tape can be applied straight to the skin, and is a great way to stabilize the joints and muscles while the patient undergoes treatment. Additionally, the flexibility of the tape means that it doesn’t interfere with range of motion exercises, making it a perfect tool to use when stretching and flexing muscles.
While ultrasound isn’t normally associated with physiotherapy, in recent years, doctors have been able to utilize sound waves to treat injuries in the body. Ultrasound frequency provides a gentle method for targeting damaged tissue with soft beams. Like a mini massage, the sound waves of the ultrasound stimulate and are absorbed by the ligaments, tendons and fascia. This treatment can be used for patients suffering from arthritis, tendonitis and muscle strain.
Do you know of any other new physiotherapy treatments?