Working with the elderly population in the greater Peterborough area can present some unique challenges for rehabilitation. For this demographic, travelling from their homes — sometimes in remote corners of the Kawarthas — to physiotherapy clinics may not be desirable or even possible.

In cases where a senior is discharged from hospital and sent home to convalesce before they are able to complete basic daily functions, a private physiotherapy solution can help them improve their mobility and get back to daily living. By bringing our mobile physiotherapy for seniors into Peterborough homes, we are able to remove barriers to accessing treatment and work on real world goals where they are most comfortable.

Private Physiotherapy for Seniors After Hospital Care

Last August, I was contacted by a local occupational therapy company regarding a client who was likely in need of a physiotherapy assessment and intervention after she returned home from the hospital. The client was an elderly woman living with two family members in her Peterborough home, prior to her hospitalization.

Earlier in the month, she was taken to the hospital due to acute weakness, and several complications were addressed during her time in the hospital. Fortunately, she made a steady recovery, and was seemingly strong enough to return home with the support of her family two weeks after her admission.

Once home, it was clear to her family members that she was not nearly as strong and mobile as she was pre-hospital visit. She was very deconditioned and fatigued from her time in the hospital. She was previously able to walk back and forth from her bedroom to the family room and to the washroom using a Rollator walker, able to sit in a chair for her meals, and able to enjoy time in her chair in the living room with her family.

Unfortunately, after her stay in the hospital, she was no longer able to do these activities. Despite her family members best efforts, she was unable to sit up at the edge of her bed, unable to stand up with assistance, and had not been able to leave her bedroom since arriving back home.

After her return home from the hospital, she had received a physiotherapy assessment and a few treatment sessions by a physiotherapist through the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). As reported by her family, the client had been very tired and not a lot could be accomplished during these sessions.

Propel Physiotherapy Peterborough’s Mobile Physiotherapy for Seniors

Looking for further assistance, the family had reached out to their private community providers for more treatment. After discussing the current physical impairments with the occupational therapy company, it was recommended they reach out to us at Propel Physiotherapy Peterborough because we provide mobile physiotherapy for seniors in their homes.

With the client’s consent to engage me, I was able to discuss their needs with the occupational therapist so that a collaborative approach could be used for the client’s care. After my experience working in an inpatient hospital and working with clients with complex injuries, I highly value collaboration with other health care providers. By regularly communicating with other professions, it can help me to fully understand a client’s needs, such as cognitive, psychological, or emotional impairments, and it is often very useful when problem solving issues that come up during treatment.

Before determining my approach to a treatment plan, I spend ample time talking to the client, or in this case, the client’s family, about their daily routines, mobility challenges, and goals.  After further conversations with the client’s family, it was determined that the client had a small window of time when her energy seemed to be the greatest, so we were able to schedule the initial assessment during that time.

During the initial assessment, the client was able to participate in a transfer to sitting at the side of her bed and with assistance from her family and myself, was able to stand up with her walker four times. This was the first time she had gotten out of bed since coming home from the hospital. Her family was surprised and very happy to see this!

I believe the combination of taking the time to understand the client’s needs and abilities, along with developing a rapport during the start of our session allowed the client to have this much success during our first session.

In addition to completing the initial assessment and treatment during that first session, I also educated the client’s family on some basic exercises, which they could carry out with her until our next session. As a physiotherapist, we only have a limited amount of time that we can directly interact with the client. Therefore, the education, planning, and implementation of an individualized exercise program is one of the most important aspects of our treatment. We are like the ‘coach’, trying to get the proper skills, knowledge, and motivation into our ‘players’. Without this consistent home exercise program buy-in, it’s unlikely that the client will see the progress the are seeking.

In this case, the family was very motivated to help and was diligent with these exercises. This clearly made a difference because the next time I saw the client, a few days later, her energy and motivation had definitely improved. During the second session, she was able to walk with her walker and my assistance all the way to her living room and back (with a good rest in her living room chair in between!).

Despite some regressions and a few sessions which weren’t as productive, she continued to improve over the next several weeks. After each small improvement, I was able to educate the client’s family about home exercise progressions that they could work on with her between sessions.

Her sitting tolerance eventually returned to pre-hospital levels, she was able to walk with increasingly more confidence and independence, and even her cognition and awareness were noticeably improved by the time of discharge.

After nine physiotherapy sessions, over six weeks, the client had fully returned to pre-hospital function and the family was able to continue with her exercise program and walking on their own. With education and practice, they had even developed a new way of walking with the client, which improved the client’s safety and independence, and decreased her physical reliance on her family when walking.

A couple of months after the client was discharged from my care, I received a message thanking me for my help and letting me know that this client had continued to get stronger and was doing great!

My Approach to Mobile Physiotherapy for Seniors

A couple of key takeaways from this client interaction:

  • Mobile physiotherapy allows scheduling to be flexible in order to fit a client’s needs
  • Developing a rapport with a client and family during sessions is valuable and needed in some cases
  • Taking the time to find the client’s motivating factors and goals is key to any rehabilitation, no matter how big or small the goal may be (in this case, the client’s goal was to be able to walk to her living room and sit in her chair again, and this motivated her to walk again!)

At Propel Physiotherapy, we provide personal and professional treatment for people of all ages, across a wide spectrum of injuries and conditions. Our training and experience working with elderly clients with a range of complex injuries, including stroke, hip replacement, and Parkinson’s Disease, has made us one of Ontario’s leading centres for neurological and orthopedic rehabilitation.

Contact me for a complimentary consultation today.

Written by

David Friesen
David FriesenRegistered Physiotherapist
David Friesen is focused on developing innovative and individualized programs to rehabilitate people who have sustained a neurological injury, including stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, as well as complex orthopedic injuries. At Propel, he pursues his passion for helping people work towards their full potential, no matter their limitations or backgrounds. The capacity for recovery following a neurological injury is his driving force.

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