Palliative Care

When you are free to move – when you have mobility – you feel better and enjoy life more.

But what about those times when movement becomes more of a challenge?

From Wikipedia, Palliative care (from Latin palliare, to cloak) is any form of medical care or treatment that concentrates on reducing the severity of disease symptoms, rather than providing a cure.

Why Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a primary care, autonomous, client-focused health profession dedicated to:

  • Improving and maintaining functional independence and physical performance
  • Preventing and managing pain, physical impairments, disabilities and limits to participation
  • Support and offer caregiver education

Members of a multidisciplinary professional Palliative Care Team work towards managing all the distressing symptoms related to a disease process from the initial diagnosis, through the various treatment challenges, and finally to the terminal phase … the extension of Palliative Care. The focus of care changes to accommodate fluctuations in the status of the patient as the team always strives to maximize the Quality of Life throughout the continuum of care.

Disease ramifications, as well as the various medical interventions to treat the primary diagnosis, can interfere with the body’s natural metabolic processes and lead to multiple side effects such as:

  • Pain
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Severe Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Respiratory Dysfunction (breathing problems)
  • Cardiac and Circulation Problems
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Depression
  • Sleep Disorders

Physiotherapy is an active and compassionate treatment approach that can offer appropriate and non invasive symptom management for individuals in palliative care.

Appropriately prescribed exercise can effectively address the broad range of Quality of Life Health Related Issues by improving:

  • Efficiency of the cardiovascular system in delivering more oxygen to all the cells throughout the body to enhance the metabolic processes affected by the medications and primary therapies.
  • Strength: stronger muscles work more efficiently, use less oxygen and enable independent functional activities.
  • Range of Motion: inactivity leads to joint and muscle stiffness which can result in painful limitations to functional movements.
  • Lung Functio the more efficiently the lungs work, the more oxygen that is available to circulate throughout the body to energize the cells, combat fatigue and facilitate healing.
  • Anxiety and Depression: Physical activity will stimulate endorphins to promote a sense of well being and enhance the Quality of Life.

A skilled and experienced physiotherapist can structure an effective exercise program appropriate for an individual throughout any stage of a disease process and re-adjust it as required. Such a program can be empowering for a person, promote a sense of well being through physical movement and also provide a positive activity to perform with a loved one.

Palliative care comprises medical, physical and emotional interventions. Activity can stimulate conversation and focus thoughts on something positive.

Aside from exercise intervention, physiotherapists can offer a variety of other skills:

  • Pain Management (non-pharmaceutical): Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation (TENS); Relaxation; Therapeutic Touch
  • Respiratory Management: Postural Drainage: Management of Dyspnea; Energy Conservation
  • Lymphodema Management
  • Equipment Prescription: Walking Aids, Mobility Devices, Bath Aids,
  • Educate Caregivers and Support Personnel on Passive Range of Motion Exercises, Transfers and Mobility Issues.

AAHPT Mandate

  • Quality of life
  • Patient and care-giver support
  • Enhancing quality of life

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