So how do we get them back into shape so they can be mobile and optimize their ability to perform normal daily activities? The answer lies in a Mind-Body approach to healing and wellness. I've seen a scenario too many times where a senior will use a few weeks of their physical therapy sessions, which are covered under their health insurance, after an accident or illness, only to lead to very minimal results at best. The first problem with this scenario is that physical therapy typically only focuses on an individual affected area of the body. But, our bodies have 600 muscles and 300 bones that all work together in harmony. Limiting muscle strengthening and range of motion type exercise therapy in one area of the body is like getting a tune up on your car on say just the rear left side. Your car certainly isn't going to last long and perform optimally.
The second problem is that once people's physical therapy runs out from their health insurance they think they are finished and the extent of their rehab is over. However, most bones take 6-9 months just to heal after a break or shatter, so just doing physical therapy for a few weeks isn't even scratching the surface of the rehab process. Many athletes train for months and even years for a competition, so just to think that a few weeks of physical therapy is going to be remotely adequate for the human body (at any age) to become better is misguided.
The third problem with inadequate exercise therapy for seniors after an accident or illness is mental. Seniors need to be mentally stimulated and need friends and family around them as a support group to build up the confidence and hope that are required to overcome an accident or illness at their age. All of this works together to help optimize the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of neuromuscular connections between the brain and the body. A happy and mentally stimulated senior is much more apt to start making progress and build some momentum than a senior that is all alone with limited social engagement and limited activites to keep their brain stimulated. Proving seniors 80 plus years of age with consistent, longer duration, full body exercise therapy along with a mentally stimulating and positive environment are the keys to success in post accident and/or illness rehabilitation.
80 is the new 60 and 100 is the new 80!
Jack Witt, MS, CPT
Fitness and Health Coach