Physical Therapists Bone Up on Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis patients rely on physical therapists to improve muscle development

(RxWiki News) An international group of physical therapists (PTs) agree that confidence, motivation and energy are concepts that will be added to the "Body Functions" category.

A new study, which is part of the World Health Organization's International Validation Project (IVP), confirms standards already in place for PTs caring for osteoporosis patients, but considers new ideas.

"People with osteoporosis need to exercise daily."

Lead author, Barbara Koehler, P.T., M.P.T.Sc., of Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur, Switzerland reports that the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) provides physical therapists with a general, comprehensive understanding of patients' health and ability to function.

Physical therapists found several new ICF concepts relevant for inclusion in the osteoporosis Core Set. Characteristics including confidence, motivation and energy, which can affect a patient's ability to participate in physical therapy, are concepts that will be added to the "Body Functions" category.

Koehler reports that patients with osteoporosis require a great deal of support to remain motivated and attentive while in physical therapy.

One of the primary goals of physical therapy for patients with osteoporsis, according to Koehler, include restoring muscle balance. Problems related to muscle tone and control and coordination of voluntary movements should also be addressed.

Additionally, the study identified areas related to balance and dizziness, which contributes to falls in patients with osteoporosis, as problematic.

Part of the IVP adds a unique perspective from a physical therapist's point of view, which shows how patients with osteoporosis are classified and how their disabilities are evaluated.

The study uses a three-step process, which is an estimate or forecasting technique that combines independent analysis and feedback. The goal is to build a consensus among healthcare professionals to validate the "Comprehensive ICF Core Set for Osteoporosis."

Fifty-seven PTs from all over the world participated in the discussion of patient problems, patient resources and environmental factors affecting their ability to treat individuals diagnosed with the bone disease. Osteoporosis, a major international public health problem and causes significant functional and social limitations. It is a disabling condition that affects primarily older adults and women especially.

These patients require high levels of attention and motivation when being treated by physical therapists over a long period, the researchers report.

This guideline report is published in the April/June 2011 issue of the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy.

Review Date: 
June 29, 2011