Health

CAN PHYSIOTHERAPY HELP PEOPLE WALK AGAIN?

What is physiotherapy?

When injuries, diseases and deformities are treated by massages, exercises or heat treatment rather than drugs or surgical procedures it is called physiotherapy.

What are the situations which make people bedridden?

Almost everyone faces trouble walking at some point in their lives. It may not always be due to an underlying health problem but there may be other conditions that can cause gait and balance problems.

When you start having symptoms of a shuffle or may experience problems in balancing yourself, you should get yourself analysed by a Physiotherapist in Lahore. A proper analysis will help in identifying exact causes of your difficulty in walking. Here we are mentioning some common problems that may cause difficulty in walking:

  • stroke
  • accident
  • arthritis
  • ataxia
  • problems within cerebellum
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cerebral Palsy

What is the regimen that physiotherapists follow to help people walk again?

Gaining balance, mobility and strength after suffering from anything that shakes your walking ability is difficult.

Physiotherapy is a detailed process that contains different modalities that work in coordination to help you get back on your feet. The exercises prescribed by your physiotherapist will help retrain your muscles and legs to be mobile again.

Following is a regimen that most  physiotherapists follow for people to help them walk again:

  • For people who are unable to move their legs on their own, physiotherapists start by slightly moving their legs. They do this by stretching the legs gently and performing minimal exercises.
  • Once the patients get a hold on movement of their legs physiotherapists ask them to do the same movement and exercise that they were performing in the first stage by themselves.
  • In the third stage a stationary bicycle is provided to the patient to improve their cardiovascular endurance. Resistance is added gradually in this stage to rebuild strength and mobility in back and legs.
  • Then comes the stage where gait training starts. Gait is a way a person walks and gait training is a form of physical therapy. It helps patients in overcoming any abnormalities from their walk. Once these abnormalities are gone patients may be able to walk again normally.
  • Then physiotherapists prescribe patients with orthotics. Orthotics are a pair of inserts that go into shoes and redistribute your body weight evenly. It helps patients walk again without pain.
  • Therapeutic massage is also prescribed to patients who are unable to walk. Massage may help in the mobilization of soft tissues which eventually will relax your muscles and reduce any swelling. Pain is also relieved with therapeutic massage because it stimulates blood flow.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is also used for some patients to make them pain free and able to walk. What TENS does is it uses electric current produced by a device to stimulate your nerves in producing its own painkillers.
  • Some physiotherapists may recommend anti-gravity treadmills too. This is a treadmill designed for people who may be unable to walk. It helps in recovery by providing controlled and low weight bearing exercise.

Physiotherapist in Karachi advises patients to start off slowly with every exercise and as soon as they are able to find their strength, they can start practicing intense exercises too.

What are some common exercises that help people walk again?

Following are some exercises that help people in relearning walking:

  • Quad contraction: For this exercise lay down on your stomach and place a rolled towel under your affected ankle. Now push your ankle into the towel. You need to hold this position for at least 5 seconds and repeat it ten times.
  • Standing leg raises: For this one you need to stand straight, you can definitely take support if you need. Now lift your leg forward as if you are trying to kick a ball. Try keeping your knees as straight as you can while you perform this exercise. Repeat ten times or as advisable by your physiotherapist.
  • Squat with a chair: Hold on to the back of a chair and place your feet 8 to 12 inches away from the chair. Now keep your back straight, and bend down in the squatting position. It is advisable not to bend any lower than 90°. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and then stand up slowly.
  • Step-Ups: You will need a 6 inch step stool for this one. Start by putting your affected leg on the stool then step down and go back to your starting position. Repeat it ten times.

Do patients need to see a psychologist while they are learning to walk again?

One day you are running errands or jogging in the park, completely fine on your feet and after a traumatic event or disease you are unable to move your feet. This disability of being unable to get things done on your own and being dependent on others for petty things can bring along an emotional turmoil.

Being unable to walk makes patients doubt themselves and it may shake and shatter their confidence to the core. So it is advisable to seek proper medical attention and speak your heart out with a psychologist.

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They will help you regain your confidence and find the strength to continue the treatment. They will affirm you that you will be back on your feet, and this positive affirmation will keep you going.

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How long does physiotherapy take in helping people walk again?

Since physiotherapy treatments are tailored to every individual’s level of injury and trauma; the outcome varies. Some patients may be back on their feet within 3 to 4 months while others may take 12 to 18 months.

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What all that patients need to do while they are following the exercise regime prescribed by their physiotherapist is have faith within themselves and their doctor too. Because if you firmly believe in the fact that you will be able to walk again one day then there is no power on earth that can change that. Trust the process and stay patient.

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