Health Promotion and Physical Activity for Seniors with Disabilities

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Oct 27, 2015

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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Improving the health and function of seniors with disabilities can facilitate levels of participation in all aspects of society and can enhance health-related quality of life on a very personal level. For individuals recovering from a serious illness or disabling event, after their initial rehabilitation, the gains made in restoring function can be lost after returning home unless a community-based health and wellness program can be tailored to the individuals unique circumstances. Traditional definitions of health often described health and disability on opposite ends of the health spectrum. Fortunately, newer definitions, supported by the Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledge that health is multidimensional. Health promotion after disability therefore involves optimizing ones potential in the dynamic interplay of the physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual elements of being.

An important first step in the process of designing a plan of self-care after a disabling event, is for seniors, health care professionals, and community service providers to collaboratively identify the many barriers that seniors with disabilities encounter when seeking to enhance their wellness and physical activity levels. Armed with a shared understanding of an individuals functional limitations, health status , and resources can allow for partnerships and networks of support that create opportunity for customized, adapted health promotion strategies. Physicians specialized in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) are uniquely trained to facilitate and collaborate with other disciplines to address health related quality of life issues for persons with temporary or permanent disabilities. Self-advocacy therefore often includes the consultative involvement of rehabilitation specialists the in ones core team of health care providers helping to optimize ones health after injury or illness.

Editors Note: This article was submitted by Indira S. Lanig MD, Medical Director at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, in Johnstown, CO. The NCRH team of wellness-oriented physicians and therapists can be reached at 970-619-3454.

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