Physical Therapist's Guide to Alzheimer's Disease - Part Two - Fort Lee Physical Therapy - Fort Lee, NJ
Picture of Hyun J. (June) Park,  PT, DPT, CIDN

Hyun J. (June) Park, PT, DPT, CIDN

Dr Hyun Park graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She is certified in dry needling by the Integrative Dry Needling Institute and a member of the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association).

Physical Therapist’s Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease – Part Two

Since physical therapists are movement experts we can design an exercise program for people with Alzheimer's disease that will keep them (or you) active.

If you have been reading our blog you’ll know that last week I published the first of my two part series on Alzheimer’s disease, which was aimed at teaching you all more about it. This week I am going to talk to you about how working with a physical therapist can help with this disease.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Before we get into the details about how we can help you I want to highlight some general things that have been found to help with Alzheimer’s disease.

– Physical activity can improve memory.
– Regular exercise can delay the onset of dementia.
– Regular exercise can delay the decline in ability to perform activities of daily living

Since physical therapists are movement experts we can design an exercise program for people with Alzheimer’s disease that will keep them active, and help to achieve the above.

If you (or a loved one) begin to work with a physical therapist in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, we will focus on keeping you mobile and helping you continue to perform day to day activities in the home and in the community.

In the later stages of the disease we can help people keep doing their daily activities for as long as possible, which reduces the burden on family members and caregivers. We can also instruct caregivers and family members on how to improve safety and manage the needs of their loved ones who have Alzheimer’s disease.

One thing that is important to keep in mind is that people with Alzheimer’s disease develop other conditions related to aging, such as arthritis, increased risk of falls, and broken bones – and physical therapists are trained to treat these conditions.

Techniques Your Physical Therapist Might Use

Visual and verbal cues. Your physical therapist will provide you with cues such as pointing to objects or gesturing. For example the lifting of arms can signal the patient to stand up – or cues can also be given verbally with short, simple, or one-step instruction.
Mirroring. Mirroring is when the physical therapist serves as a “mirror” to his/her patient. Your therapist will stand directly in front their patient and show them how to move.
Task breakdown. As physical therapists we are are trained in how to give step-by-step instruction by breaking down the task into short simple “pieces” to be completed separately.
Chaining. Your physical therapist can provide you with step-by-step instructions by linking one step to the next step in a more complicated movement pattern. This technique is used once the task breakdown is successful is a way for the therapist to unite the separate steps of into one fluid movement.
Hand over hand facilitation. The physical therapist takes the hand or other body part of the person who needs to move or complete a task and moves that body part through the motion.

What Kind of Physical Therapist Do I Need?

All physical therapists educated, but you may want to consider the following:
– Look for a physical therapist who is experienced in treating people with conditions related to aging, because some physical therapists focus on geriatric care.
– Look for a physical therapist who is a board-certified clinical specialist or one who completed a residency or fellowship in geriatrics physical therapy.

General tips when you’re looking for a physical therapist (or any other health care provider):
– Get recommendations from family and friends or from other health care providers.
– When you contact a physical therapy clinic for an appointment, ask about the physical therapist’s’ experience in helping people who have underlying Alzheimer’s disease.
– During your first visit with the physical therapist make sure you are prepared to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible

The bottom line is that is it important to reach out and consult with physical therapist, so give us a call and we can get you in, speak with you and let you know what you’re options are. Give us a call at 201-585-7300, or you can fill out our contact us form online.

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