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Helping seniors recover from injury

The benefits of physical therapy
Posted at 2:24 PM, May 29, 2024

Healthier Together is sponsored by Regence BlueCross BlueShield

The older we become the more prone we are to injury. To add insult to that…the harder it is to recover.

“As we age, we do not heal as well. We lose flexibility in our joints. We lose muscle mass,” said Dr. Mike Woodruff, Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah.

Woodruff said physical therapy can help more than you realize when recovering from injury – especially for seniors.

“Many people just think ‘rest, ice, elevate’ and then maybe, maybe I’ll need surgery. What a lot of people don’t know is that physical therapy, which is essentially strengthening your muscles, balancing the function of your muscles in your body, increasing the range of motion and flexibility. That can actually be a better approach for some patients and help them avoid surgery and help them avoid dangerous medications,” said Woodruff.

Hundreds of thousands of Utahns age 65 and older are estimated to have some sort of orthopedic condition, and not treating one can often lead to another and create a much longer road to return to your original function.

“If there’s one thing, I’d say don’t wait to get in for physical therapy and treatment,” said Woodruff.

And just like telehealth, virtual visits are now being offered more when it comes to injury recovery, strengthening and pain treatment.

“You can do it from the comfort and convenience of your own home and that’s important for a number of reasons,” said Woodruff.

Namely cost and convenience – allowing a patient easier access and often paying less for those visits, especially when you figure in transportation, childcare, and other expenses to actually get to a therapist’s office.

Woodruff said, “The outcomes are just as good. It’s been shown through multiple studies that if you engage in virtual care, actually you’re more likely to complete your course of treatment.”

Many health plans cover physical therapy and many strengthening programs, so it’s a good idea to check and know what is offered to you.