What is geriatric physical therapy?

Geriatric physical therapy involves a broad area of issues that is focused on the older adult. As people grow older, a multitude of ailments can become more prevalent. Conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, hip and joint issues, balance disorder are common ailments that in which an older adult may experience. Geriatric physical therapists specialize in therapies that can provide rehabilitation and relief from the above conditions.

What are the benefits of geriatric physical therapy?

This form of physical therapy specifically targets the issues that many older adults have to face. It is used to restore a patient’s mobility, increase stamina and fitness levels as well as a great way to help an older adult gain confidence, remain active and improve overall fitness. Some additional benefits to geriatric physical therapy are the following:

  • Improved balance

  • Improved strength

  • Build confidence

  • Pain relief

  • Improve sensation

  • Increased overall fitness

  • Increased range of motion

  • Increased coordination and flexibility


Geriatric physical therapy can also be of help to a patient who has been in an accident or who may have suffered a stroke. Falling is one of the biggest risks to older adults. Falling can lead to other complications and can put an older adult into a detrimental state of health.

According to the Center for Disease control, one of the most serious injuries from a fall is a broken hip. Hip fractures are difficult to recover from. Every year 300,000 adults ages 65 and older are hospitalized for hip fractures, and 95% of those hip fractures are caused by falls. With that being said

Older adults who participate in physical therapy sessions may be able to avoid falling as physical therapy sessions can help them remain strong with better balance.

Common Geriatric Physical Therapy Treatments

General exercise
Exercise is an intricate part of any physical therapy regimen. It is designed to both improve and maintain coordination, muscle strength, flexibility, balance and physical endurance. An older adult can benefit from exercising through walking, stretching, weight lifting, aquatic therapy and other specific exercises that are helpful to a patient’s specific injury or weak area. A physical therapist will work with a patient to teach them exercises that they can continue on their own at home for maximum results. This can also help speed up recovery time.

Manual Therapy
Manual therapy can be used with geriatric patients with the intent to improve circulation. If an injury has caused lack of use, then manual therapy can also help to restore mobility. Manual therapy is also used to help with the reduction of pain by manipulating joints and muscles through massage.


Assisted Devices
Part of geriatric physical therapy may include the need for assisted devices such as walkers and canes. A physical therapist will teach a patient how to properly use the device to prevent further injury. Assisted devices can also give an older adult the confidence to move around independently and can give them a higher quality of life.