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Reclaim Your Golden Years with Geriatric Physiotherapy

27 March 2023

Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation | Dr. Pradeep Kriplani
Reclaim Your Golden Years with Geriatric Physiotherapy

The origins of geriatric rehabilitation trace back to the mid-20th century when the population of elderly individuals began to increase in many countries worldwide. There was an increasing need for healthcare professionals with this demographic shift to developing knowledge and specialized skills to help older adults recover from illness, injury, or surgery.

Over the last century, the average mortality rate has increased by almost twenty years, with people living longer. Advancement in medical procedures, technology and treatment has made it possible. The need remains to ensure the quality of life remains maintained for the aged. Hence, geriatric rehabilitation aims to offer the aged a means to live a quality life for as long as possible.

Geriatric physiotherapy is the physiotherapy branch related to older adults' care. A physiotherapist is crucial in enabling older people to maximize their body's potential to enhance independence and mobility. Geriatric physical therapy aims to prolong independence and physical well-being and improve a patient's quality of life.

Many conditions affect the geriatric population, such as age-related problems like arthritis, joint pain, and osteoporosis. You also have comorbidities such as diabetes, cancer, heart, and Alzheimer's disease that impact your health. It is well known that poor physical conditioning in older adults leads to health problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, circulatory problems, and respiratory disease.

Moreover, over time muscle mass reduces in a process called sarcopenia, which stands for age-related muscle reduction. You feel reduced ability to carry out day-to-day tasks or feel increasing frailty. Sarcopenia affects endurance, strength, and coordination.

Exercise helps to counter the effects of age-related muscle loss on the bright side. Falls are also an issue that becomes more prevalent as we age. Many factors may contribute to this, and your physiotherapist will assess you to get to the root of the underlying issues.

The first geriatric rehabilitation programs focused on restoring mobility to older adults and physical function. Such programs offer long-term care facilities in hospitals and include interventions such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy.

With the advancement in geriatric rehabilitation, healthcare professionals began to recognize the importance of addressing physical function and emotional, social, and cognitive aspects of recovery for older adults.

Geriatric rehabilitation programs take a holistic approach to care, incorporating a range of interventions to support older adults in maintaining their independence and achieving their goals as they age.

Three important principles to consider in geriatric rehabilitation are:

 .  Variation in older adults,

 .  Maximizing activity in older adults

 .  The concept is that optimal health is directly related to optimal functional ability.

Dealing with an adult is essential since older people's capacity varies significantly from younger demographic cohorts compared to older individuals of the same age. Rehabilitation goals should focus on improving older adults' activity levels because activity optimization is vital in rehabilitating older adults, and many of the changes over time are attributable to disuse among the aged.

Rehabilitation techniques in an acute context may be aimed at stabilizing the underlying issues first, minimizing secondary consequences, such as contractures and pressure ulcers, and restoring lost functions. Geriatric rehabilitation involves a range of interventions, depending on the individual needs of the older adult.

Here are some types of geriatric rehabilitation:

Physical therapy is a common type of rehabilitation focusing on improving physical function and mobility for older adults. It includes stretching, exercises, and other interventions to enhance strength, balance, and coordination.

Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy focuses on helping older adults maintain their independence in daily living activities, including dressing, cooking, and bathing. It involves providing assistive devices, adapting the home environment, and teaching new task-completion techniques.

Speech therapy: Speech therapy is helpful with difficulty speaking, understanding speech, or swallowing in older results. It includes exercises to improve swallowing techniques, communication skills, and language.

Cognitive rehabilitation: Cognitive rehabilitation is helpful in older adults with cognitive impairment, such as attention deficits, language difficulties, and memory loss. It involves memory training, cognitive exercises, or other interventions to improve cognitive function.

Social support: Social support interventions help older adults deal with isolation or loneliness. It may include group therapy, social activities, or connecting with community resources.

Nutrition and wellness: Nutrition and wellness interventions manage chronic conditions and help older adults maintain a healthy lifestyle. It includes dietary changes, exercise programs, and stress reduction techniques.


Physical therapists recommend exercise based on the individual's health condition. Several exercises enhance flexibility, strength, and endurance and improve movements.

Various exercises within this physiotherapy are:

.  Stretching the hip flexors and lower back promotes good alignment and joint mobility to prevent stiff muscles.

.  Endurance training helps to keep the heart and lungs healthy. It also improves blood circulation with the aid of cardiovascular equipment.

.  A regular and balanced exercise routine allows them to maintain their various stabilities during standing, changing direction and walking. These balance exercises         comprise weight shifting, tandem walking, and marching.

.  Lower body exercises maintain body strength. Based on improved physical condition, you can try some exercises like step-ups, sit-to-stands, leg lifts, etc.

 Bodyweight exercises within geriatric physical therapy improve body mobility, although it also depends on physical ability.

Physiotherapy is a vital component of geriatric medicine. Different health problems impact your physical well-being, and we want to help. Your physiotherapist will assess the issue you present with, considering your medical history and other conditions. Your ability to get up and down from a chair and your walking pattern will be assessed.

Also, some balance tests are conducted to get a baseline for your current balance levels.

To Know more about Orthopedic Vs Physiotherapy

Your treatment will be completely customized to suit your needs and aim to improve these issues. Your assessment will highlight critical areas, and goal setting will be done. NeemTree Health Care provides a one-stop solution with doctors with years of clinical excellence and world-class technology for the best treatment and faster recovery.


Dr. Pradeep Kriplani

Dr. Pradeep Kriplani

Sr. Orthopedic Surgeon
MBBS, Ms (Ortho), Training in Sports Medicine

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