Welcome the The Home Physical Therapist.
The goal of this blog is to be an informational resource for family caregivers as well as professional caregivers. In blog posts and articles I will share insights on how a home physical therapist may approach a particular issue or use a specific piece of equipment.
In general, the role of a home physical therapist is to address patient physical rehab in 5 different areas. 1) Patient strengthening, 2) Patient mobility, 3) Medical Equipment needs, 4) Needs for other disciplines, 5) Caregiver training.
After a hospitalization for surgery or illness, it’s not uncommon for the patient to be deconditioned and weak. We all take it for granted, but, weakness caused by simply lying in the bed can be a life changer for the worse in many cases. Physical therapists can help with this to develop individual exercise and strengthening program for the deconditioned patient.
And, along with weakness, there usually comes a problem with safe home mobility. But, in many cases, such as a knee replacement or a heart surgery, weakness may not be the primary case for problems moving around. Most people, after a surgery, have to deal with pain, fatigue, and a number of other things that make moving around a problem. Some just aren’t quite sure what to do or how to do it safely. That’s another area where your doctor may want a home physical therapist to help get you moving safely.
In this day and age, family doctors rarely make house calls. With specialists like surgeons and cardiologists, it’s next to “not at all”. Because of this, it’s not hard to understand that they doctor doesn’t really know what your living situation is like. Do you have stairs in the house? If so, how many? Is the bathroom small? is there a shower or grab bars? How easy is it to get into or out of the house? And can you do it safely? Is there anyone around who can help?
Because there is really no way for your doctor to have a good idea about these answers, they may ask the home physical therapist to evaluate the situation. Home therapist can act as the “doctor’s eyes and ears” when in the home. If there is a particular piece of equipment that’s needed, recommendations are made to the doctor and equipment ordered.
Many times, what’s needed is not something that is covered by typical health insurance companies. Grab bars in the bathroom (or anywhere else in the home), ramps for entry and exit from the home. Transport wheelchairs to be used outside the home. All of these the therapist can recommend to the patient or family to help make rehabilitation easier and safer.
With that in mind, home PTs can also recommend that another discipline may be needed to help you recover more quickly at home. In most home health care companies, there are nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, speech and language pathologists, and home health aides available to help make the patient safe at home and address health care issues.
But, one of the main things that a home physical therapist can help with is caregiver training. In many cases, a loved one has opted to return to the home rather than going to a rehab center when they are discharged from the hospital. It’s understandable that people want to be at home and feel it’s more convenient and comfortable. But, most caregivers are surprised at how much is involved with caring for an adult who is sick or injured.
Many caregivers find out that caring for someone who’s had a stroke, had surgery, or for what ever reason can’t move safely on their own, there’s not an easy way to help them even get out of bed. Unlike with children, you just can’t pick up and adult and get them into or out of bed. Nor is it easy to get them into or out of a shower. There’s a fear on the part of the patient and caregiver that they might fall and this makes it even worse. Caregivers need training in how to safely move the patient while protecting themselves at the same time. This is another big reason that home physical therapy is called into cases.
The role of caregiver can be overwhelming at times with frustrations and responsibilities. One of the biggest reasons for frustrations is actually not having a clear picture of how to do something. Or, possibly “trying too hard” and wearing yourself out.
There are many different aspects of care giving that can be made a little easier. Like getting someone out of bed and to a wheelchair without the fear of them falling. Or, knowing what the best way for someone with a sore leg to get up and down a step or two. Simple things like these can add up and relieve a lot of pressure and stress.
Helping with these little improvements is the whole focus of this blog. That is, to show you that there might be an easier way to help someone move around a bit without feeling like you’re going to drop them or like your back is breaking.
My Name is Bryan and I have been practicing physical therapy for over 20 years. In all that time, I’ve worked in a lot of different settings and environments. But, it wasn’t until I started doing home care physical therapy that I actually understood the real challenges that family caregivers and professional caregivers have.
It’s in a person’s own home that you see how difficult life can be. And because of that, making a difference in the home, even thought it may be small, has the potential of making things so much better on all involved.
Sometimes the walker or wheelchair doesn’t fit through the doorways. Some people who have a hard time walking may not have a ramp into their home and have to figure out how to use the stairs.
Then again, some people who need to get to their doctors don’t even have transportation. And we won’t even talk about the money issue… Everything costs money and not enough people have enough money to get the help or equipment that they really need.
My hope is that I can help a few people with what I’ve learned. In fact, the whole purpose of my starting this blog is to provide you with information (not medical advice) that may make your role as caregiver a little easier.
I feel that I can do that because most days of most weeks I spend my time teaching and demonstrating to the majority of my patients and family caregivers the basics of how to move safely in the home, which medical equipment is better suited for this or that, and, simple exercises to get stronger and help prevent injury (to the patient and to the caregiver).
As I have realized that I only work with a fraction of people in a very small geographic area, it dawned on me a while ago that there are people in every community, in every burg, village, town, city and state, across the US and around the world who are basically in the same predicament as many of my patients.
People across the country and around the world who are struggling to get loved ones out of bed without straining their back or bruising their loved one. Caregivers who are afraid to let “carees” stand up for fear of falling and not knowing how to prevent it. And people who may be causing more strain and pain simply because their walker is not adjusted to their proper height.
I will try to address these and other issues with this blog. Not in the form of medical advice, but from the perspective of how a physical therapist may approach a particular challenge and the reasoning behind it. Sort of like peeking inside my head when I am dealing with a particular issue.
I would also like to encourage the reader to participate in commenting and responding to others who leave comments. Nothing negative please. It would be good to build up a little community here. Share with others what works and doesn’t work. If you have a story you want to share please feel free to contact me and we’ll see about getting it posted on the website.
Lastly, if there’s ever something that you want me to address on the blog, or want to give me some feedback (I need all the feedback I can get so that I know if I’m helping or not) please do so.
Feedback can include blog topics, clarification of any topic, style of writing, how the site looks and how it could be better. Feel free to share with me anything you think can improve the website. You can use this page to let me know about it.
So, thank you for taking the time to get this far,