– APRIL 2021 –
How a change in mobility impacts physical capability and the possible consequences
Any change in mobility can dramatically reduce people’s ability to function if they are living with a neurological disorder. Lockdown closures have resulted in limited activity taking place, with people confined to their homes for extensive periods of time.
For support coordinators helping reintegrate people back into normal, post-lockdown, day-to-day life, you might see a noticeable deterioration in participants’ balance, physical endurance, and mental wellbeing, as they will be overwhelmed, causing cognitive overload. People who could previously stand up independently and walk around might now not be able to walk at all.
Concerned support coordinators might arrange a medical appointment with a GP, where the common advice given will be for the participant to exercise more to improve their physical capability. While this sounds simple, the reality is much more complex. What needs to happen, and what an astute neurological physiotherapist will be keen to action, is for the participant to:
Restore their ability to move from a sitting to standing position.
Once that movement is watertight, achieving and confidence in standing is really important.
Then stepping will need to be re-introduced and mastered.
Walking around the house is the next goal to attain.
Finally, once a participant has regained their ability to walk around the house, you can look to increasing how many times a day this exercise takes place and build from there.
It is essential you engage a neuro physio immediately to conduct an initial assessment. Every day that goes by with these issues unaddressed runs the risk of a further deterioration that might then not be reversible.
The consequences of not immediately getting this specialised help from our team at Active Edge Physio could include some, if not all of the following challenges for participants:
- Falling and sustaining injuries.
- Muscle and joint contractures from not moving as much. For example, if a participant doesn’t regularly stand on their feet, their calves won’t get their normal stretch. This will result in their muscles getting tighter and their feet pointing down. The range of movement in their ankle will then be limited, placing too much pressure on their knees and other joints, and all of this combined will impact posture, balance, mobility and pain levels.
- Pressure injuries forming sores on the skin.
- Fear avoidance, where a participant avoids a physical activity altogether because they are worried they are not physically strong enough to do it and are scared they might fall.
- A deterioration in confidence and mental wellbeing, owing to the fact the participant invested so much time and effort working so hard to reach the level of independence they had successfully attained in their life before lockdown. It will be demoralising and mentally challenging to now be back in a position of requiring assistance to do tasks they previously were totally independent doing. The prospect of starting over and beginning their whole journey again could impact their motivation and willingness to return to an exercise programme.
The next steps you take are time critical. You need to act fast, engaging both a specialised physiotherapist and the relevant GP, so that both healthcare professionals can work together to create a holistic action plan that best serves your participants.
Please book a free 15-minute consultation with our team here at Active Edge Physio. Alternatively, complete the referral form online and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours (on week days) to explore the best way forward.