Through physical and occupational therapy, we help patients reach for independence once again
Many patients come to Christ House after surgeries, long hospital stays, or amputations. As a result, they are often experiencing a loss of strength, endurance, or range of motion. These individuals need to be guided through rehabilitation to rebuild strength and balance so that they can live as independently and fully as possible.
We send patients who are in need of extensive rehabilitation to an outside physical or occupational therapist. These therapists develop a treatment plan which often includes daily, at-home exercises. These exercises strengthen and stretch muscles and joints and build overall endurance.
For instance, a patient who undergoes an amputation must build strength and balance to best use his new prosthetic leg. Our Homeless Respite Care Assistants help patients complete these assignments by demonstrating exercises, coaching for appropriate technique, counting repetitions, and providing encouragement.
By monitoring these exercises, we can also update the therapist on the patient’s progress so that the treatment plan can be adjusted appropriately and the patient can recover more quickly.
We may also provide aids for mobility – such as a cane, wheelchair, walker, or crutches – and offer instruction on how to safely use them. Mastering the proper use of these aids helps to prevent further injury. For example, if a patient is using a wheelchair for the first time, he may need to be shown how to safely transfer himself from his bed into the wheelchair.
About a third of our patients use a walking aid during their stay at Christ House. We monitor use of these aids and increase or decrease support as appropriate to both ensure safety and allow a patient to rebuild muscle and promote independence.
We also provide “energy conservation” education which helps a patient to schedule his day so that he can complete important activities like bathing and light movement before becoming too tired. Energy conservation also includes developing a resting schedule and learning how to breathe optimally when doing strenuous activities.
Often times, when a referral to an external therapist is not necessary, our medical team may prescribe a rehabilitation program for patients who would benefit from this guidance. This might include an assignment to walk a certain amount each day, cold therapy to help with inflammation, heat therapy promote muscle lengthening, or exercises for strength and mobility.
One of our nurses, Meredith, said that she has seen such significant progress in patients from when they first arrive, sometimes weak and demoralized, to after a few weeks of receiving care and putting in their own hard work at Christ House. She also observed that “as patients get stronger and stronger physically, their whole outlook improves!”
Willie, a recent patient, benefited from several rehabilitation interventions while he was here. He came to Christ House after a lengthy hospital stay for a foot infection that was further complicated by heart and lung issues.
The first few nights he was with us, he wanted to sleep in his wheelchair because he couldn’t breathe easily when lying flat on his bed. So, we ordered a hospital bed so that we could raise the head of his bed and make it easier for him to breathe.
To help Willie regain his strength and endurance and encourage deep breathing, two of our staff helped him walk with his walker twice a day. Because of his heart condition, we also scheduled daily bed rests to help him conserve his energy. We also coached him through exercises in his bed and chair to maintain his range-of-motion and improve his strength in his upper and lower body.
By following this treatment plan, which was designed for his unique needs, Willie was able to live more comfortably and regain strength, dignity, and hope.