Physical therapy can help improve mobility, function and motion as well as effectively manage pain after an illness, injury or surgery. Sometimes functional mobility is so limited that the ability to safely leave the home is actually impeded. When this is an issue, receiving physical therapy in the home may be the best option.
One of the benefits of receiving therapy in the home is in the area of fall prevention and safety. Falls are the leading cause of death by injury in persons over the age of 65.1 According to the National Institute of Health, more than 9,500 deaths occur each year in persons over the age of 75 from fall related complications. Because most people prefer to go home after a hospital stay or surgery, receiving therapy in the home can help prevent falls by improving the home environment, identifying fall risk factors and addressing muscle weakness, gait abnormalities and balance impairments.
All physical therapists focus on function but there is no better place to truly evaluate a patient’s functional mobility than in the home. Just like patients, no two homes are exactly alike. Some homes have small awkward rooms, while others have winding staircases or unusual furniture. Therapists help improve access in the home, working on ways for patients to safely get from room to room and improving their ability to maximize function in each room. For example, therapists may provide focus exercises and techniques for getting out of bed, reaching into cabinets, and stepping in and out of the shower. Therapists will also work with patients on strengthening as well as improving range of motion and balance in specific areas of the home. Therapists will also modify home exercise programs based on the area of the house where patients perform their exercises.
Being in your own home for physical therapy also comes with benefits. Homebound patients may find it comforting to receive treatment in a familiar place. This can be also be helpful if the patient is new to therapy, allowing them to focus on their care with few distractions. In addition, home health services, when appropriate, make therapy services more accessible and convenient, not just for the patient, but also for caregivers or family who may be assisting them.
Once home rehab goals have been achieved, the therapist will be able to assist in transitioning the patient to the outpatient setting. This includes making sure patients can walk community distances and safely access their vehicle in order to attend outpatient therapy. The therapist will also coordinate care with the outpatient therapist and physician to ensure that there is no lapse in care for an optimum outcome.
Optimizing functional ability and helping patients return to the activities that they enjoy are always the focus of physical therapy in all settings. For patients that are experiencing limited functional mobility that may be impeding access to outpatient services, receiving therapy in the home may be the most appropriate setting for an optimal rehab outcome. For more information, contact a Home Health Therapy clinician by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 630-575-6218.
1. “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 May 2018, cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6718a1.htm.