When you think of physical supports, do you only think of things like wedges, custom fit wheel chairs and seat belts? If that’s the case, you are missing out on a lot of things you can do to improve the lives of the people you serve.
Physical Supports allows you to provide the external supports necessary throughout the 24-hour day to help the person become more functional. Think about the supports you need throughout the day. Are you a little on the shorter side and need someone else to reach the top shelf of the cabinet? What about an extra pillow at night to prop up your arm so it doesn’t go to sleep? Glasses in order to read? These are very minor, but they are still physical supports.
When we are on a diet, we don’t just diet 3 days a week or only at meals then binge the rest of the time. It’s the same principle when a person is getting physical therapy: we can’t just let them be inactive and have therapy 3 times a week. During the time they are not actively receiving P.T. we can be placing the person in ACTIVE or WORKING positions. If a dead person could maintain the position, it is not an “active” or “working” position. Just lying on your side is not an active position. Putting someone into a prone on forearms position so that they have to hold their head up is a working position.
Physical Supports allows you to provide the external supports necessary throughout the 24-hour day to help the person become more functional.
We often can see these positions in infants as they develop. The infant will start raising its arms up or holding up their head on their own. They can’t hold these positions for long until they build up strength. They are building against gravity. A person that has a contracture in an elbow for instance, may have their arm placed in a working position that allows gravitational force to help move the arm down into a more usable position.
There are also physical supports that are not active. Positioning a person to prevent pressure injuries is a physical support. Sometimes we do it with special equipment, sometimes it is just with bed pillows. Just know that we are positioning them for prevention when they are in EVERY position throughout their entire day, not just at night.
Physical supports can help prevent pneumonia, help with bowel function, keep skin healthy, help the person to become more independent and many, many other things. Please keep in mind that even the most minor change can make an enormous difference in someone’s life.