Physical Therapy in the Fall

by Howard Gerber on November 24, 2011

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With the leaves blow from the trees and snow flurries begin to flutter, consider changing up patient routines to prepare them for the new environment they are about to confront. People who have suffered an accident or injury may have been seeing you for the past several months, they may even be showing progress, but the change in the weather will likely have a few surprises in store for them. If they have never used their crutch, cane, or walker on the ice, how will they know how to do so properly? Right now, they still have the safety of familiar weather conditions, but in a few weeks, they will be facing snow and ice for possibly the very first time since they began therapy. What are you going to do to help them?

Knowledge

Sometimes just being aware there could be a problem is more than half the fight. It is quite possible your patient has not even thought about the upcoming winter season and what it could mean for their mobility. If you point out to them the possible challenges they will be facing, they still have time to prepare themselves mentally and physically.

Preparation

Just how should they prepare themselves physically? If they are accustomed to being able to shovel snow but are unable to do so in their current condition, now would be a good time to enlist friends or family for assistance. Have them schedule someone to come help them when it snows so they won’t be stuck without any help at the last minute. Review their normal winter routine and ask them if there is anything they think they will have trouble with. Brainstorm solutions for these problems and help them follow through with their plan of action.

Action

Think of ways you can change your patient’s physical therapy routine to help prepare them for the slippery conditions they may encounter. Additional flexibility and stability exercises may make them surer of their footing. Strength training for core muscles may help them recover if they do begin to slip. Obviously the exact changes will depend on the problems and abilities of individual patients, but take time to consider what can be done for each patient.

 Of course not all therapists and patients live in areas where snow and ice are a problem. What about those living in southern Florida or Texas where the temperatures stay moderate for most of the year? Sit

Back and enjoy the cooler temperatures! For those of you in snowier regions, what will you do to prepare your patients?

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