A Guide to Physical Therapy in a Skilled Nursing Facility

A Guide to Physical Therapy in a Skilled Nursing FacilitySkilled Nursing Facility


With age, you may notice your usual movements become challenging. This change may threaten your safety because of the increased chances of a slip or fall. Our skilled nursing facility (SNF) experts often consider physical therapy a crucial aspect of the residents’ care program. With a robust plan and access to professional services, you can reduce pain, improve mobility, and enjoy independence in your senior years. Here is a comprehensive guide to physical therapy, its advantages, and how it can enhance your quality of life after retirement. Read on to learn the essentials and make an informed decision.

How Can Physical Therapists Help You?

Many seniors have physical ailments due to specific health conditions, long-term illness, and inadequate movement. Physical therapists diagnose physical abnormalities and help restore and maintain mobility and bodily functions. This therapy can help you stay independent by diminishing pain and enhancing functionality and mobility.

Whether you use a wheelchair or a walker for assistance, physical therapists are vital in improving mobility and making your life easier. They concentrate on promoting physical function after an injury or serious illness. They work with physicians and other medical professionals in a skilled nursing facility to design individualized care plans that address your unique needs. Depending on your requirements, these programs may focus on boosting coordination, improving flexibility, enhancing strength and endurance, and more. Working closely with you and your family, these healthcare professionals identify potential hazards around in place and recommend modifications and safety features as needed.

Short-Term Residents

If you want short-term care in a skilled nursing facility, physical therapy will typically be a part of your program for transitional care. It aims to help you recover and rehabilitate from a severe injury, illness, or medical event. The experts will ensure your well-being and independence and help you regain the best functional ability. They will also help you prepare for life after your stay at an SNF. The physical therapy care plan often includes the following:

  • Enhance the function and strength of limbs weakened by a stroke and restore efficient movement.
  • Reduce inflammation, pain, and stiffness induced by arthritis and improve joint flexibility.
  • Improve balance and regain mobility after hip fractures and similar orthopedic injuries.
  • Recovery from joint replacement surgeries.

Long-Term Skilled Nursing Facility Residents

If you want to stay in a skilled nursing facility for the long run, physical therapy plays a crucial role in your overall care. The therapists can help you in the following ways:

  • Help manage progressive health conditions, such as Parkinson’s or arthritis, by slowing the disabling effects of these degenerative diseases.
  • Regain independence and ensure safety by dealing with mobility problems with the help of balance and gait training.
  • Maintain the best possible range of motion and flexibility and strengthen the abdomen and back muscles when using a wheelchair.
  • Regulate the effects of osteoporosis with regular exercise and strength training.

5 Benefits of Physical Therapy in Skilled Nursing Facilities

Minimize the Risk of Falling

Studies show that falls are among the most common accidents among older adults, often causing bone fractures and other injuries. Physical therapy in a skilled nursing facility helps you recover quickly from a fall. Moreover, the specialists will create a safe environment and help you learn how to prevent falls.

Reduce the Chances of Injuries

Balancing and improving your gait is essential to prevent tripping or falling. Physical therapy will help you learn the crucial aspects of mobility in your senior years, lowering the risk of injuries and re-injury.

Decrease Chronic Pain

If you have medical conditions like osteoporosis or arthritis, physical therapy can alleviate any discomfort and help offset any further symptoms. This way, you can manage chronic pain.

Reduce Prescription Drug Reliance

If you need several prescription drugs to soothe your chronic pain, physical therapy can help reduce your dependence on medications. In addition to enhancing your well-being, it is also a more cost-effective treatment option.

Maintain Your Independence

Recovering from an illness or surgery and managing your pain in the later years is easier when you choose physical therapy. Doing so will help you lead an active independent lifestyle for longer.

4 Types of Physical Therapy for Seniors

Geriatric Physical Therapy

This therapy emphasizes your needs and treats balance problems, osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, and recovery after joint replacement surgery. The specialized interventions help reduce pain, improve fitness, and restore mobility.

Orthopedic Physical Therapy

This type of therapy helps you recover from orthopedic surgeries and treats injuries to the musculoskeletal system. It aims to restore and strengthen bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons and ensure optimal functioning.

Neurological Physical Therapy

It differs slightly from mainstream physical therapy because this therapy treats the body and brain. It is helpful if you experience neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or ALS or have suffered a brain injury. The therapists will guide you to adapt and accommodate balance, mobility, visual, and muscle loss impairments to manage activities of daily living.

Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy

If you are prone to heart attacks and other pulmonary or cardiovascular conditions like pulmonary fibrosis or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), this form of physical therapy can help. It can help increase endurance and functional independence.

5 Common Consequences of Ignoring Physical Therapy

Not completing physical therapy, especially after your hospital stay, can have the following consequences:

  • Falls – If you experience weakness and are vulnerable to falls, failing to complete physical therapy may increase the chances of mishaps and severe injuries.
  • More Pain – Muscles and joints that do not move often get stiff. This slows the healing process after hospitalization and may lead to more pain.
  • Infections – Restriction to a bed increases the risk of pneumonia due to inactivity. Moreover, the lack of movement may cause skin conditions such as ulcers.
  • Reduce Endurance and Strength – Physical therapy ensures proper recovery and improves resilience. Missing this critical step can increase heart rate, high blood pressure, and lower oxygen saturation. It may also lead to blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, and other severe health conditions.
  • Less Recovery Support – This therapy focuses on wellness, physical health, and recovery education. It helps improve mental and physical well-being and enhances the quality of life. By ignoring physical therapy, you will forego crucial support.

FAQs about Physical Therapy in Senior Nursing Facilities

Which Exercises Should You Avoid in Later Years?

Healthcare professionals recommend that seniors avoid abdominal crunches, squats with weights, deadlifts, leg and bench presses, long-distance running, and high-intensity interval training.

How Often Should You Do Physical Therapy?

Experts often advise joining physical therapy sessions for 3-4 visits per week immediately after your hospital stay to ensure maximum benefit. They may reduce it after the initial evaluation, considering your progress.

How Long Does It Take for Physical Therapy to Work?

The therapist will track your progress to note strength improvement, range of motion, and functional ability. It may take 6-8 weeks to heal, depending on your health and ability to recover.

Get Comprehensive Care in Our Skilled Nursing Facility

The Holiday Retirement offers the best skilled nursing facility in Rhode Island to help you recover from your hospital stay. Whether you want short-term support or seek long-term professional assistance, our friendly and experienced staff can help you. We will ensure you receive the required services and help to regain your health.

For more details about our skilled nursing facility for seniors, book a tour by filling out our online form. You can also call us at 1-401-765-1440 if you have any questions. We will happily answer your queries and provide complete guidance so that you can make the right choice.

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