For the majority of people, physical therapy is a tool to help someone become a stronger, fitter or more physically capable version of themselves. However, physical therapy can also be used to help an individual maintain a current level of function in the face of a disease or a condition that could lead to worsening symptoms. For these patients, maintaining the skills they have is key to remaining independent and physically capable. This is known as maintenance physical therapy, and we take a closer look at the benefits it can provide in today’s blog.
Who Benefits From Maintenance PT?
Maintenance physical therapy can be beneficial for a wide variety of patients, but it’s often recommended for patients suffering from lifelong chronic conditions, either from birth or acquired later in life, like:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cerebral palsy
- Huntington’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Traumatic brain injury
- Repetitive falls
A maintenance physical therapy plan will use many of the same techniques as a rehabilitative physical therapy plan, although the end goals will be different. During maintenance, we’re looking to help a person keep their current level of fitness, whereas rehabilitative PT is focused on helping a person return to a pre-injury or pre-surgery level of fitness.
The maintenance program is also a bit different than a rehabilitative program in how it’s conducted. In both instances, you’ll begin with an initial assessment to get a baseline understanding of your functional capabilities. Instead of charting a therapy routine that will continually progress until you’ve made a full recovery, your PT will focus on the best techniques to help you remain at your current level of fitness. Your rehab exercises are more likely to remain constant than someone pursuing a rehabilitative plan, but your PT will always be looking to make adjustments to fit your needs.
Another typical difference between the two programs is how your exercises are conducted. Oftentimes when someone is pursuing maintenance physical therapy, they may have a caregiver that assists with certain daily tasks. That could be a certified caregiver, a spouse or an adult child of a parent with a cognitive issue. Oftentimes we bring this person on board to really help ensure you are performing your maintenance exercises on a regular basis.
We understand that it can be very difficult for someone with a chronic condition to make it into the clinic a couple times a week, so we oftentimes have a caregiver help ensure these exercises are being performed as needed. We’re more than happy to walk through your maintenance exercises with you and your spouse, child or certified caregiver so that you can have an expert by your side assisting with your program between clinic visits.
A maintenance program can be exactly what you need to remain strong and independent for years to come, so don’t get discouraged by the fact that the goal isn’t to make sizable improvements in your skill or balance. When fighting a degenerative condition, the goal is to prevent disease progression, and that’s exactly what a maintenance program overseen by a skilled physical therapist can do.
So if you or a loved one is battling a chronic condition or you’re noticing that their symptoms are worsening, know that you still have treatment options available to you. Help them maintain the skills and function they currently have by assisting them with a maintenance PT program. For more information, or to learn if your loved one might be a good fit for one of our maintenance programs, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.