The role of a physical therapist in a skilled nursing facility

Lacombe Nursing Centre

The Role of a Physical Therapist in a Skilled Nursing Facility

By Nicole B. Fleming, PT, DPT, Northshore LIVING WELL Magazine

The role of a physical therapist in a skilled nursing facility is to promote, maintain and restore physical function within the neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, integumentary, and the cardiopulmonary systems. When a patient is admitted, an evaluation is performed and a plan of care is established to improve their endurance, mobility, balance, and strength.

Due to the geriatric population being at high fall risk, neuromuscular interventions include static/dynamic balance for sitting and standing activities. This will decrease patient’s falls and prevent further injuries. Interventions for patients with a recent stroke diagnosis would include intense training in the areas of bed mobility, transfers, and gait.

In the musculoskeletal system, interventions are performed to reduce inflammation and improve strength for individuals suffering from tendonitis, sprains, and arthritis. Many patients, in this age population, fracture a bone and are immobilized, causing muscle weakness and joint stiffness. Interventions used after immobilization are stretching and strengthening within the new range of motion.

The key intervention of a patient suffering from cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases is education on topics such as energy conservation, specific precautions for that disease, and setting up an individual exercise plan in order for that person to carry out a healthy lifestyle.

Interventions for the integumentary system are provided through wound care management by a physical therapist and interdisciplinary team to ensure proper healing.

If you have any questions regarding physical therapy services, we would be happy to talk with you.

Nicole B. Fleming, PT, DPT can be reached at Lacombe Nursing Centre at 985-882-5417.