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Physical Therapy for General Weakness & Deconditioning

Physical Therapy for General Weakness & Deconditioning

What is Deconditioning?

Deconditioning can be defined as reversible changes in the body brought about by physical inactivity and disuse. The decline in muscle strength is the most important and consistent feature of deconditioning. Muscle strength of itself matters little; what is important is how changes in muscle strength affect the ability to perform daily activities. 

Symptoms of Deconditioning?

Loss of Independence. As muscle strength decreases with deconditioning, activities relying on that muscle require a greater proportion of the maximum strength of the muscle. Eventually, any further decline in muscle strength will make the activity impossible. If that activity is essential to an independent existence, a small decline in muscle function, such as following a brief period of inactivity due to acute illness, may be sufficient to cause dependence.

Increased Likelihood to Fall. Muscle weakness, especially in the legs, is one of the most important risk factors. Older people with weak muscles are more likely to fall than are those who maintain their muscle strength, as well as their flexibility and endurance. This is because appropriate patterns for muscle contraction in the legs, especially while walking, are needed to maintain balance. For example, when you are taking a step you need the muscles that flex your ankle joint to fire, in order to prevent tripping over your own feet.  Research shows that weakness to that muscle has been associated with falls in the elderly. 

More Susceptible to Fractures. When you exercise, you don't just build muscle and endurance. You also build and maintain the amount and thickness of your bones.  Inactive older adults can develop a condition called osteoporosis, which is characterized by increased bone fragility. As a result bones break easily. Even a sneeze or a sudden movement may be enough to break a bone in someone with osteoporosis.

Loss of Energy. The heart is a muscle. Like other muscles, it gets weaker with inactivity. A weaker heart pumps a smaller amount of blood with each beat, requiring more beats to do the same work. Sedentary older adults, therefore, tend to have higher heart rates and lower oxygen consumption than active older adults. Since the body needs oxygen to transform nutrients into energy, with lower oxygenation comes lower energy. Along with higher heart rates comes fatigue. It’s a lot of extra work for your heart!

Importance of Physical Therapy

Muscle mass and strength decrease with age, and the trend is even more pronounced in the elderly who are deconditioned. Numerous studies have shown that physical therapy and exercise in older adults increase mobility, enhances the performance of activities of daily living, improves walking, decrease falls, and increases bone mineral density to decrease the risk of fracture.




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Reddy Care Physical and Occupational Therapy Reddy Care Physical & Occupational Therapy Reddy Care Physical & Occupational Therapy is an outstanding specialty service providing exceptional care and state-of-the-art treatments for the residents of Farmingdale and Great Neck, New York. The combination of innovative exercise programs, manual therapy, and technology together with the expertise of every member of the team enables Reddy Care Physical & Occupational Therapy to provide services that ensure superior clinical outcomes and consistently high patient satisfaction.

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