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PT for Geriatric Care | Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia


How Physiotherapy Benefit Seniors, Especially in Geriatric Rehabilitation

Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University’s Department of Sociology, Michael Fine, calls on aged care residences to take on a restorative care approach that will allow residents to return to their homes at some point.

He told Australian Ageing Agenda that “We need to be shaping our aged care services away from this very negative, terminal decline model, towards a much more restorative approach”.

Instead of a period of deterioration, ageing should lean towards possibilities and opportunities.

Although he acknowledged that not every resident in residential care could be rehabilitated, there is room for functional gains.

Research showed that residents living with dementia regain independence and experienced slowed onset of symptoms with reablement approaches through music, social engagement programs, and exercise.

The same benefits can be gained through physiotherapy.

Seniors that undergo personalised treatments for body movements get relief from pain and regain mobility caused by inactivity and poor circulation.

How Physiotherapy Benefits Seniors

  • Reduce and manage arthritis pain
  • Build strength and stability
  • Rehabilitate pre- and post-surgery
  • Treats pain without medication and its side effects

Physiotherapy is also vital for rehabilitation in so many ways.

Roles of Physiotherapy in Geriatric Rehabilitation

Carry out a health assessment

What better way to determine the severity of mobility problems than to run some tests? Physiotherapy assessment involves a series of screening measures for therapists to develop a personalised treatment plan or expert clinicalcare.  

To test for mobility, for example, seniors are asked to walk 20 feet, rise from a chair, sit down, or turn. How long it took them to perform those tasks is then recorded. Physiotherapists then determine the best solution for older adults who were unable to do the task in 15 seconds or more.

Other tests are run to assess an individual’s physical disability, urinary incontinence, depression, vision and hearing impairment, nutrition and weight loss, and memory.

Check functional status

Is an older adult still functional in terms of personal hygiene and basic self-care activities?

Do they need to perform more complex activities to live in the community but can’t?

How does a senior score on gait and balance?

The answers to these questions will help a physiotherapist gain insight into an older adult’s functional status.

Goal setting

Based on the data collected, physiotherapists will set goals to help seniors get back on a horse, so to speak.

The ultimate goal is always to provide elders functional independence. If this seems impossible, the following goals more than suffice:

  • Relieve pain
  • Improve or maintain the range of movements (ROMs) of joints
  • Improve or maintain movement strength and endurance
  • Improve or maintain a senior’s ambulatory status
  • Improve or maintain cardiovascular endurance

Develop therapeutic intervention

Does the problem stem from stiff joints that hamper ROMs?

A physiotherapist will develop ROM exercises to maintain what little ROM a senior has and improve it. The exercises will also prevent inactivity complications, such as deep vein thrombosis, cartilage degeneration, and contracture formation.

If mobilisation is the problem, joint mobilisation and stretching techniques will be provided, such as those that can un-restrict restricted capsular tissue.

The therapeutic benefits include stimulation of mechanoreceptors, bring about synovial fluid motion, distend shortened tissue, and elongate ligamentous connective tissue.

Other therapeutic interventions are strengthening exercises, aerobic exercises, gait training, and use of orthotics.

Perform reassessment

Throughout the process of geriatric physical therapy, ongoing assessment is carried out.

This is done to determine a treatment’s effectiveness towards the goal set. If needed, treatment strategies are modified or adjusted to ensure that seniors get the most appropriate care for their particular health and physical conditions.  

Do you need help with geriatric rehabilitation? Request a booking with Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia today and take one step closer to regaining mobility and functional independence.



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