By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
There are specific benefits for people who recover from injuries, convalesce from illnesses, and receive palliative end of life care in the home versus in a hospital or extended care facility. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and travel therapists in these fields play key roles in home health care, especially for seniors. Now, there is recent research showing just how valuable physical and occupational therapy can be for the elderly in their homes.
The study was done by researchers from the Applied Research no Aging and Health at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. The study participants were seniors living in their homes who were otherwise healthy but starting to experience functional challenges (trouble bending, opening jars, button clothing, get out of the tub, etc.).
It showed that those who received specific physical and occupational therapy interventions lived on average three and a half years longer than those who did not receive the rehab therapy. In addition to physical and occupational therapy, the intervention also included minor safety modifications to participants’ homes.
Physical and occupational therapists play valuable assessment, problem solving and therapeutic roles in home health. Therapists as well as traveling physical therapists and travel occupational therapists teach seniors to perform activities of daily living in a safe way that conserve energy, provide balance and stability training, educate seniors and their families about fall prevention, and provide memory retraining exercises in some instances.
Rehabilitation therapy interventions in the homes have been proven to increase the life expectancy, social and psychological health and quality of life for America’s aging population. There is a huge need for physical therapy travel jobs and occupational therapy travel jobs (and those who aspire to enter the field) who want to make a difference in this area of home health.
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.