Friday, October 14, 2011

Falls in the elderly: Exercises done at home

Your patients or love ones who have been not so  active at home will succumb sooner or later to the what we call deconditioning. Due to their condition such as poor balance or affected by other ailments, they become confined in bed, or wheelchair or chair. Definitely such situations will leave their upper and lower limbs weaker. As the saying goes, "Use it or lose it."

So here are some simple exercises that you can ask your patient or love one to do at home. We will start with some exercises for the upper limbs done during sitting.

1. Forward Arm lift
While the patient is sitted. Make the patient do an arms forward position. Then let the patient lift the arms alternately beyond the head level or as high as they can go. Just make sure the patient breathes in and out while doing the exercise. Do not make them hold their breath.

Do this without or with weights being held on the hand depending on the patients capability.

2. Backward pull exercise

Again patient in an arms forward position and then let the person imagine as if pulling a stick backward. This can be done with or without weights or even holding a stick. Remind the person to just breath in on starting position and breath out during pull position. Do not make them hold their breath.

Arms forward starting position
Backward pull position

3. Shoulder shrugs

Let the person keep the arms and hands on the side (with or without weights) and then let the person shrug the shoulders. Breath in during starting position and breath out on shrug position.

Shoulder shrug starting position

Shoulder Shrug up position

Reasons of doing this?

1. To keep the upper limb in good condition or at the least not deteriorate its strength.
2. Keep the joints moving and not become stiff
3. Strengthen the muscles that help the person stand during pull up to stand as well as keep the tone of the upper back muscles.
4. Prevent stooping forward during sitting.

How many times to be done?

Depending on the condition of the patient, you can start at 10 counts per exercise and progress accordingly.
It is advised to do it 3 times a day, morning, afternoon and early evening.

Extra Tip:

The simpliest weight you can use are just plastic water bottles. A 250ml water bottle is equivalent to 1/4th kg. (100ml water is equivalent to 100gms) So no need to buy gym weights.

The next set will be standing exercises.

Special Thanks to Mr. Jayson Javier, PTRP. Upon this blog post, he is  a PT faculty instructor in The College of Physical Therapy of San Juan De Dios Educational Foundation, Incorporated, Pasay City.