Safety techniques for physical therapy patients undergoing therapy at home are extremely important. Mobile physical therapy patients require customized care and safety precautions. And since each home is unique, the degree of customization necessary may vary. This makes such safety techniques complex to design and implement.
There are certain safety guidelines that can be applied universally, regardless of the specific location. These include:
Survey: The therapist or family member of the patient should first survey the house and create a room-by-room checklist that identifies all potential hazards. Next, a comprehensive plan should be created and executed to remove such hazards, especially from areas wherein the patient is likely to frequent.
Modifications: The most common modifications that are recommended around the house include removing floor rugs, installing handrails and covering electrical installations. Additionally, pets should be kept away as they may inadvertently cause obstruction during exercises. Movement on stairs and elevated or inclined pathways should be restricted or eliminated. And pools and other outdoor features should be kept out of bounds for the patient, unless they are part of a particular exercise routine.
Living Area: In the living room of the patient, eliminate any leaking containers that may cause the floor to get slippery. Also, remove any rugs on the floor and ensure that adequate lighting is available at all times. Bathroom safety must also be accounted for. Advise the patient to leave the door unlocked at all times. Ensure there is no water on the floor and there is no likelihood of any leakage from sinks and toilets in the future. Long curtains should be avoided altogether, and smaller ones should be high above the floor so as to not get in the way of normal movement.
Aids: Depending on the condition of the patient, using a walker or cane may be advised when the physical therapist is not present. The walker should ideally be up to the height of the patient’s wrists when his/her arms are at his/her sides. The patient must also be trained to properly hold and use the walker.
The arms should be a little bent while holding on to the walker and at the same time, the patient should not have to bend too far forward to reach it. In addition, care must be taken to keep the walker in good shape. The tips or bottoms must be checked regularly to ensure that they are not worn out or too smooth or uneven. If they are, a replacement walker should be provided.
Education: A physical therapist must educate members of the family about all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the patient in and around the house. All documentation and safety instructions must be communicated to the people who reside or are likely to be present in the home. Proper sensitization to safety measures ensures compliance and a safer environment for the patient.
Mobile physical therapy is a great alternative for individuals who have trouble going to an office or clinic, or for those who prefer to receive therapy in the comfort of their own homes. By apply proper safety techniques, in home physical therapy providers can eliminate common potential hazards and give patients the opportunity for a speedy recovery at home.