How Physiotherapy Improves Walking Ability
After you suffer a catastrophic injury that leaves you unable to walk, physiotherapy is what will get you moving again. The timeline varies from person to person because treatment is tailored to the individual based on the severity of their injury. However, you can rest assured that when you work with a physiotherapist they will do their best to get you to walk again. Continue reaching for more information on how physiotherapy improves walking ability.
The Physio Process
Physiotherapy consists of different modalities that work together to get you back on your feet. Through various interventions, your registered physiotherapist will retrain your muscles and reintroduce movement to your legs.
- Active Assistive Range of Motion
For people who cannot move their legs on their own, your physiotherapist will move them for you. Starting with gentle stretching, your physiotherapist will gradually increase the range of motion they apply to your leg.
- Active Range of Motion
Once you are able to move your legs on your own, even if it’s sparse, little movements, you will perform active range of motion activities. Here you’ll do the same exercises that your therapist did with your legs when you were undergoing active assisted range of motion. Instead of them moving your legs for you, you will move them on your own. Active range of motion is especially helpful for people who suffer from arthritis.
- Stationary Bicycle
To improve your cardiovascular endurance, you will work on a stationary bicycle. Resistance will be added gradually to create strength and range of motion for your back and legs.
- Gait Training
Our gait is the way we walk. Through gait training exercises your physiotherapist will train your legs to walk again. First there will be an analysis, during which your physiotherapist will examine how your lower back interacts with your thighs and feet during each stage of walking (initial contact, loading, stance etc.). Because you have recently been injured, gait training will help you overcome any abnormalities in your walk that were caused by the accident.
- Custom Orthotics
After the gait analysis and training, you may be prescribed custom orthotics. These are inserts that go into a pair of shoes and redistribute your weight evenly, to help you walk without pain.
This involves muscle contraction without any joint movement. If you had surgery and your leg is in a cast, isometrics will strengthen the damaged area without harming the joint.
- Therapeutic Massage
Through soft tissue mobilization, your muscles will relax so that swelling and scar tissue will reduce. Therapeutic massage also helps to relieve pain and stimulate blood flow.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation uses a low voltage to override the sensation of pain. Used in intervals, TENS can reduce your dependence on prescription painkillers, so that you eventually walk without pain.
- Anti-Gravity Treadmill
This is a special treadmill designed to allow you to walk or run as if you weren’t injured. You place your legs and lower body in an inflated chamber that reduces the effects of gravity so you feel like you’re walking on air.
- Mental Health Counselling
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you’ll need counselling to help you overcome the mental aspects of your trauma. Learning to walk again is more than just strength training exercises and massage, it involves overcoming the fear associated with your accident too.
You may not receive all 10 of the aforementioned treatments. Your physiotherapist will evaluate your progress after each treatment to determine what the next steps are.
To get you walking again, your physiotherapy sessions may include some of the following. Each additional therapy is designed to complement your recovery process.
This is an ancient Chinese technique that involves inserting tiny pins into the body to control pain receptors. If you are in severe pain during your treatment, you may receive acupuncture along with TENS and massage therapy.
- Nutritional training
Learning to walk again requires energy. Most physiotherapy clinics are staffed with nutritionists who will create a meal plan designed to give you ample energy.
By doing certain exercises in a warm-water pool, hydrotherapy can help with arthritis, tense muscles, and help you relax after a long physiotherapy treatment session.
What to Wear
The clothing you choose to wear to your physiotherapy sessions makes all the difference. Your physiotherapist will provide a list of proper attire but it’s safe to assume that your clothing should be non-restrictive and loose-fitting.
Even if you are not quite walking yet, you should dress as if you are going to work out at a gym. For example, sweatpants and loose-fitting shorts are great along with tank tops, sports bras, and T-shirts that aren’t too tight.
How Long Are Treatments?
Depending on where you are in your rehabilitation program, treatments can last anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Plus, you will need to visit your physiotherapy clinic at least twice a week to ensure your treatment is effective.
Please contact Focus Physiotherapy if you or a loved one have recently been injured in a horrible accident. We’ll help you understand how physiotherapy improves walking ability, and help you put one foot in front of the other to get you walking again.