Canada’s senior population is growing. By 2030 – when even the youngest Baby Boomers will be 65 –seniors will make up 23% of our country’s overall population. With that dramatic increase will come a sharp rise in need for physiotherapists. Here’s why: seniors are at a much higher risk of falling than younger members of the population, and physiotherapists are some of the best health care professionals to help prevent those falls.
Physiotherapists and physiotherapist assistants help patients recover from and prevent injuries. They can help seniors improve balance, flexibility, and walking challenges that often lead to falls.
Read on to find out just how important physiotherapy is for seniors, and why preventing falls is an important part of keeping our aging population healthy and active.
The Danger of Falls for Seniors
Seniors are suffering falls at an alarming rate. Almost a third of seniors fall every year, and while half of those falls won’t lead to serious injury, the other half will.
Falling can cause injuries such as:
- head trauma/ concussion
- broken wrist, foot, leg, pelvis, back, and hip bones
- chronic anxiety about falling again
- loss of mobility and independence
- paralysis from spinal injuries
In addition, seniors that can’t get up after falling might be trapped until someone comes to help them. Depending on how long a senior is stuck lying on the floor, they can suffer from other injuries such as pressure sores, dehydration, hypothermia, starvation, or even death.
Because of the serious dangers that may accompany a bad fall, it’s crucial for seniors to take a preventative approach by working with a professional with physiotherapist assistant training.
Physiotherapists Evaluate their Patients and Provide Personalized Exercise Programs
Professionals with a physiotherapist assistant diploma begin treating their patients by first conducting a thorough evaluation.
They evaluate their patient’s:
- gait (walking ability)
- medical history
Once they have determined which areas need improvement, they recommend exercises and treatment programs that will target the patient’s specific needs. Classes such as tai chi or fall prevention classes taught by a professional with physiotherapy training are great ways for seniors to strengthen their muscles and prevent falls.
Physiotherapy Modalities Can Help Seniors Increase Range of Motion
For some seniors, the best treatment will include regular visits to their physiotherapy clinic so that they can utilize modalities that will increase their range of motion and treat any imbalances in their posture or muscles.
Physiotherapy modalities such as trigger point dry needling help release tension in tight muscles that could be causing balance problems. The physiotherapist will place acupuncture needles in the affected areas, and those needles will allow the muscles to twitch, lengthen, and resolve the trigger point –leading to a relaxed muscle and better balance.
Seniors Can Make Their Homes Safer with the Help of a Professional
Physiotherapists and physiotherapist assistants are excellent at giving advice to seniors about minimizing the risk of falling at home. Physiotherapist assistant courses teach students effective communication skills, which they will use to convey the importance of home safety, and make practical suggestions patients can use to improve safety in their living space.
These tips may include:
- install sturdy hand rails on stairs
- secure rugs so that they don’t slip, or get rid of rugs altogether
- install grab bars in bathrooms near the bathtub, shower, and toilet
- place non-slip mats in the tub and shower
- install proper lighting in staircases and other risky areas
Are you considering becoming a physiotherapist assistant? Visit Anderson College for details about our training program, or to speak with an advisor.