• Carrie Klaege

What is Rehabilitation Therapy?

At some point in your medical treatment, you will likely hear the term "Rehabilitation Therapy." This refers to the trio of Physical, Occupational and Speech/Language Therapy. These can be come of the most helpful and integrative therapies you will participate in as they can work in tandem to help you to learn a new way of accomplishing things in their daily lives. These therapies can work together as solutions to avoid surgery or reliance on medications.


Physical Therapy (PT) is used to help address the effects of disease, injury, and disability by using exercise, manual therapy, education, and therapeutic activity. The primary goal of PT is to improve movement and help reduce pain associated with immobility. Imagine rising stiffly from a chair or hunching painfully. Physical therapy will work to help you feel less pain when performing these simple tasks. PT can also be used to help reduce or prevent injury, which can enable a person to avoid surgery or reliance on medications.


Goals:

  1. Diagnose physical problems restricting movement because of an illness or injury

  2. Ease pain and boost mobility and muscle strength through exercises and other techniques

  3. Develop fitness and wellness programs aimed at preventing injuries and encouraging a more active lifestyle

Occupational Therapy (OT) is directed at helping you to regain some level of independence in their daily activities. These therapies can help you with cooking, bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, and more. Maybe you are losing weight unnecessarily merely because you are having difficulty feeding yourself or preparing meals. OT can regain a level of independence for you. Much of the work by an OT can be done in the home. In some cases, these adjustments may include assistive devices such as splints, braces, or canes.


Goals:

  1. Help patients with daily living skills and self-care tasks such as getting dressed

  2. Support patients with memory loss or other cognitive issues

  3. Make recommendations about adaptive equipment

Speech-language pathology (SLP) is used to help your senior with communication, swallowing, and/or eating. Communicating effectively and swallowing safely can play a huge role in a patient's ability to participate in social rituals like mealtime, make their wants and needs known, connect with their loved ones, or continue working in a specific vocation. SLPs work with individuals with a variety of diagnoses (ranging from stroke and autism spectrum disorder to head and neck cancer and traumatic brain injury).

Goals:

  1. Strengthen the muscles in the mouth, jaw, and neck

  2. Help people work on goals related to social communication

  3. Evaluate and provide treatment plans for feeding and swallowing challenges

How do these therapies work?

1. An SLP can help you communicate your fears, desires, and successes with their care team.

2. A PT would step in to strengthen weakened muscles and to hep regain some bilateral strength, keeping other muscles

3. An OT will assist you in relearning to eat, cook, open doors, button and zip your clothes, and move from sitting to standing


One of the most notable losses during aging is mobility. Even if dementia or Alzheimer's sets in, you will still want to be active, communicate, go out to eat, care for and dress yourself, or move about your living space with some ease. These are the activities that the PT/OT/SLP team can hep with to prolong a sense of independence. These three therapies are valued for anyone who has any form of mobility issues, including those with Parkinson's, dementia, stroke, or muscular degeneration.


Often the physical side of aging can be overlooked in the process of treating the emotional and mental changes. Thee is solid evidence that physical activity can be effective for stemming the progression of dementia and provide a level of happiness and independence not gained by merely working with their mental losses. The techniques used by therapists would be like those used to treat patients with brain injury from trauma, stroke, or other brain conditions such as cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis.


It is important that you like and trust the therapist you bring in as they will be asking you to step out outside of your comfort zone and you may not always understand why.

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