Frailty is a condition in which an individual becomes unable to handle the normal everyday stress that is placed on their body. Their muscles may no longer have the strength to help them perform certain tasks, and their heart and lungs may not have the capacity to endure certain activities. We all slow down a bit as we get older, but nobody wants to become frail and lose their independence.
Fortunately, you can fight back against frailty with the help of a physical therapist. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at how a physical therapist can help prevent frailty through an individualized care plan.
Why Frailty Develops
While frailty tends to be more common in older adults, make no mistake, it can affect people in all walks of life. Natural degeneration is one of the leading causes of frailty, which again is why it tends to be more common among older individuals who have suffered more natural wear and tear on their muscles and joints. That said, some other issues that can lead to frailty include:
- Genetic Condition
- Sedentary Lifestyle
Muscle weakness is one of the telltale signs of frailty, but the condition can affect your body in a number of different ways. If you’re experiencing muscle weakness, fatigue, joint stiffness, decreased lung capacity, reduced endurance, balance problems or gait issues, you may be a bit frail, but your physical therapist can help.
Frailty is a condition that physical therapists see on a regular basis. Whether we are helping a senior citizen reduce their fall risk, helping an older adult regain stability after a joint replacement operation or working with an athlete to restore confidence and strength in their surgically-repaired Achilles tendon, we know a thing or two about fighting back against frailty.
We begin by working to create an individualized assessment of a person’s strengths and deficits. We’ll do this by reviewing your medical history, asking you about your symptoms and your lifestyle, and by having you perform some simple movement exercises to see how your body responds to different forms of stress. These baseline assessments may seem hard at first, especially if your condition is causing balance or endurance issues, but know that we never want to push you beyond what your body can handle. At the same time, if we make these exercises too easy, you won’t get the full benefit of the activity because you’re not challenging yourself. It’s a delicate balancing act, but it’s something we work hard to do with each patient.
From there, we develop an in-clinic and home-based PT routine that will target your deficits until they slowly become your strengths. For some patients, lower body-focused exercises will improve strength, flexibility, mobility and balance, while for others, a cardio-based routine will help to develop their lungs and their heart so that normal activities aren’t so draining. These changes won’t happen overnight, but if you commit to your PT plan and do your exercises as directed, we are confident that you will find more strength and energy to conquer each day.
Don’t assume that frailty is a normal part of getting older. We may not feel as spry as we did in our twenties or thirties, but if muscle weakness or joint stiffness is keeping you from pursuing the activities you love most, know that you have options to improve your quality of life. Connect with a physical therapist who can develop a strength program tailored to your individual needs and goals. We’ve done it for countless patients, and we can do the same for you. For more information, or for help with a different physical issue, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.