Home health physical therapy may be part of your care plan if you are having difficulty moving around your home or have had falls due to pain, illness, injury or surgery. For example, in-home physical therapy may be prescribed for you by your doctor if you qualify for home health and you have the following:
- Surgery like a knee or hip replacement
- Recent heart attack
- Acute-onset medical condition
- Exacerbation of a chronic medical condition like heart failure, COPD or diabetes
- Trouble with balance or falls
- Difficulty walking or moving around
- Pain after an injury, surgery or illness
- Functional decline related to a progressive neurological condition such as Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis or ALS
- Suffered from a stroke and have loss of use of one or more extremities
Our at-home physical therapists and physical therapy assistants help you move with greater ease in the comfort of your home. Your plan of care is based on your needs and your doctor’s orders. Physical therapy for seniors is designed to restore normal mobility or maintain the highest level of functioning possible, so you can do daily tasks and activities you enjoy.
WHAT IS PHYSICAL THERAPY?
A doctor may order in-home physical therapy for seniors who have had an injury, surgery or illness that makes it hard to do daily tasks.
If you need home health care physical therapy, you’ll work with a physical therapist – an educated, licensed professional with specialized training. These specialists understand how the body works and what it needs so you can do the things you care about most. Our physical therapists create personalized plans using a variety of treatment techniques such as balance retraining, stretching and strengthening exercises, gait training, teaching fall reduction strategies, physical agent modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation and hot and cold therapy, and patient and caregiver education.
WHERE IS HOME HEALTH PHYSICAL THERAPY PROVIDED?
With home health care physical therapy for the elderly, a physical therapist comes to your home. This can be your private residence, a family member’s home, a group home or a senior living community.
AMEDISYS IN-HOME PHYSICAL THERAPY SERVICES
An Amedisys physical therapist will work with you, your doctor, caregiver and other members of the home health care team to understand your needs. The services you receive will be tailored to your goals and needs. Your in home physical therapy services could include:
- Balance training to help prevent falls
- Vestibular rehabilitation to improve balance and reduce dizziness
- Manual therapy to isolate specific tissues or joints causing pain or other symptoms
- Strength training
- Ultrasound to reduce inflammation and promote blood flow
- Electrical stimulation to reduce pain and improve function
- Heat and cold therapy
- Light therapy
- Training to help you walk or stand independently, or transfer from one place to another
- Education for patients and their caregivers about the patient’s condition, needs and home exercises
- Personalized exercise program
- Practicing using an assistive device like a cane or walker, if needed
- Suggestions to make your home safe such as grab bars or moving rugs
Often, physical therapists for the elderly teach at-home exercises that patients can do between visits to help their progress. As your needs change, your physical therapist will update you and your healthcare team and work to adjust your treatment as needed.
Types of Conditions Treated in At-Home Physical Therapy
In home physical therapy for seniors can be used to help with a wide variety of conditions. With home care physical therapy, we often care for home health patients with:
- Heart Attack
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Parkinson's Disease
- Cerebral Palsy
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Spinal Cord or Brain Injury
- Hip, Knee, Shoulder or Joint Replacement
- Back or Elbow Surgery
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Balance Disorders
- Wounds or Burns
PHYSICAL THERAPY MAY HELP IN SITUATIONS LIKE THESE
Diane had several health issues – hypertension, diabetes and heart disease – that were limiting her ability to move around the house and keep up with basic tasks like getting dressed. In home health physical therapy, she worked on balance and strength, which allowed her to walk longer distances and get back to things she loved like church and visiting her family.
Dan had a recent stroke and struggled to get around his house without a walker. Physical therapy helped minimize his need for a walker, so he could stay as active as possible.
A car accident resulted in multiple fractures to Malcolm’s legs and back and a prolonged hospital stay. To support his recovery while he was wheelchair-bound at home, his doctor ordered physical therapy. Within a couple months, Malcolm learned to transfer from his wheelchair to use the restroom and stand with a walker, eventually progressing toward walking independently.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM PHYSICAL THERAPY HOME VISITS
With home health care physical therapy, your therapist comes to your home. At your first physical therapy home visit, they will evaluate your needs. You might be asked:
- Are you having pain or other symptoms? What level is your pain?
- Do you have difficulty doing daily tasks like getting out of bed, getting dressed or bathing?
- How are you sleeping?
- Do you have a medical history of illness or other health problems?
- What types of things would you like to be able to do?
Your Amedisys physical therapist might ask you to walk, bend, grasp, climb steps or do other motions to better understand your needs. They will also look at your balance, strength, flexibility, range of motion and posture. At this initial physical therapy home visit, you’ll learn about your treatment plan and how often your physical therapist will visit. You’ll also set up a schedule.
At subsequent physical therapy home visits, you’ll discuss how you’re feeling and any changes since your last visit. You’ll practice exercises and do activities to help you reach your personalized goals. Your physical therapist can teach you how to move safely and help identify environmental hazards at home. They can provide education for your caregiver as well.
At the end of each visit, your Amedisys physical therapist will share updates and progress with the rest of your home health team. This way, all team members who visit you will understand how you’re doing.
HOW LONG IS PHYSICAL THERAPY?
The number of home health physical therapy visits you receive depends on your needs and doctor’s orders. Some patients receive physical therapy for six to eight weeks. If you have a serious or progressive condition, you might require more visits. Alternatively, if your condition improves quickly, you may have only a few home health physical therapy visits along with a home exercise program.
How long is each physical therapy visit? A typical visit is 45 minutes to an hour but the length of physical therapy depends on your needs. Some physical therapists see patients once or twice a week initially, and then once a week once they’re stabilized.
HOME HEALTH PHYSICAL THERAPY GOALS
You’ll work with your doctor and home health team to set up a treatment plan and goals. Your specific focus areas will depend on your condition and needs. Some common home health physical therapy goals include:
- Reduce pain and swelling
- Improve your ability to move around
- Educate patients and caregivers
- Regain muscle control
- Prevent disability or further deterioration
- Return to prior levels of function after a stroke, injury, surgery or accident
- Improve your balance and flexibility
- Increase physical fitness and stamina
- Manage a chronic illness at home
- Improve circulation
- Avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital
- Breathing activities to conserve energy
- Prevent falls and increase home safety
- Teach you safe ways to stand, sit, lie down, and walk up and down stairs
- Learn to use an assistive device like a cane or walker
- Resume normal routines and regain independence
Physical therapists help patients prevent falls by improving strength and core muscle stability.
Amedisys physical therapists take the time to review your needs and address issues that you may not have worked on in the past. With us, physical therapy is more than exercises and tasks. It’s about assessing your health and your environment and making changes that improve your day-to-day function.
The benefits of physical therapy for seniors can be significant, especially if patients are willing to learn and try new things. We recognize that change can be hard, so we focus on building a strong patient-therapist relationship first. Then we explore ways to do tasks safely and offer tips at the right pace for you.
Many of our patients have lost hope that they can do tasks they used to be able to do, such as showering on their own, gardening or going to church or the store again. They may believe falling and losing function are an inevitable part of aging. But they aren’t. You may be surprised at what you can accomplish after physical therapy. We’ll empower you with tools to help you continue safely achieving your goals after physical therapy ends.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HOME CARE PHYSICAL THERAPY
There are many misconceptions about physical therapy, especially in the home health setting. Here are a few misconceptions as well as the facts:
1. Physical Therapy is Just Prescribed Exercise
Some people think physical therapy is just a series of exercises that they can’t realistically maintain on their own. But it’s much more than exercise, especially in the home environment.
2. Physical Therapy is Only Useful to Recover from a Surgery or Injury
In addition to helping people recover from injuries, accidents and surgeries, physical therapists can also help prevent injuries and falls and improve patients’ abilities to do daily tasks. By addressing problems early on, patients can save money and minimize their risk of surgery and hospitalization later.
3. Physical Therapy is Too Painful
The goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain, not add to it. Your physical therapist may ask you to move in ways you aren’t used to, but treatment should not hurt. There’s no need to delay care to avoid making pain worse. Your physical therapist should check in with you about your comfort level, so be sure to tell them if something bothers you.
4. Physical Therapists Are Basically Massage Therapists or Personal Trainers
Massage and exercise can be part of physical therapy, but physical therapists can do much more. Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care and patient education. They have specialized knowledge and skills and have completed an accredited physical therapy program with a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in physical therapy. Physical therapy assistants (PTAs) have completed an associate or bachelor's degree. Both PTs and PTAs are also licensed by the state.
5. Physical Therapy Only Helps for a Little While
The purpose of at home physical therapy is to empower patients to manage their condition on their own. Physical therapists teach you the tools to take control of your illness or recovery. With home health care physical therapy, you learn to use tools and equipment that are readily available in your own home. If you do your daily PT activities, the benefits can last long after therapy sessions end.
IN-HOME PHYSICAL THERAPY COST
Does Medicare cover physical therapy at home? If you’re eligible for home health and your doctor orders physical therapy as part of your plan of care, the in-home physical therapy cost is typically covered by Medicare, Medicaid and some private insurance plans.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR HOME HEALTH PHYSICAL THERAPY?
To be covered by Medicare and Medicaid, you must meet eligibility criteria for home health care. These include:
- You’re considered homebound. This means it’s very difficult for you to leave home and you need the help of a supportive device (walker, wheelchair, etc.) or another person to do so.
- You need part-time or intermittent skilled care. This may include physical therapy, skilled nursing, speech therapy or an ongoing need for occupational therapy.
- Your doctor orders home health for you.
Ask your doctor if home health care is an option for you.
If you don’t meet these home health criteria, you can still get private physical therapy at home if you pay for it out of pocket or through private insurance. Or you may want to consider a local outpatient clinic.
HOW TO FIND IN-HOME PHYSICAL THERAPY SERVICES NEAR YOU
Since home health physical therapy requires a doctor’s order, many patients find in home physical therapy services through their healthcare provider. Your doctor may refer you to a home health provider like Amedisys.
Here are a few considerations when choosing a physical therapist:
- Does the physical therapist have experience or specialized training in the issues you’re facing?
- Can the physical therapist come to your home?
- Does the provider accept your insurance?
Physical therapy can help seniors with a wide variety of health concerns. If you’re recovering from a surgery or injury or living with a chronic disease, ask your doctor about home health physical therapy. You can also call the Amedisys home health agency near you to find out how physical therapy can help you maintain your independence.