Must Have PT Equipment
Working in therapy for the last 12 years has allowed me to know what equipment is the most useful as well as equipment that has less value in treating patients in a nursing facility. Although it is not an all inclusive list, this should cover all the equipment one needs to provide care to a variety of patients with the best treatment options.
- Theraband. Red and yellow has served me well in every environment. I will usually have the length longer than usual (about four feet) to accommodate for the height of a patient as well as wrapping it around the back of a patient's wheelchair for upper body work. Most of us know the most beneficial activities to do with our patients with the theraband for upper and lower body exercises.
- A 12 inch ball. A patient can squeeze, throw, place one foot on it and balance, kick it, etc.
- A 32-38 inch ball. The patients can sit on it, bounce it, roll it up a wall, kick it, etc.
- Mat table. For rolling, sit balance, transitional activity from supine to sit, sit to stand, etc.
- Floor mat. For fall recovery, static and dynamic balance activity.
- Stairs. This is a functional activity for patients and can simulate a curb. Going up and down with and without a rail works on balance and stability for center of gravity awareness.
- Ramp. This is also functional and works on balance and stability. Having a patient stop in the middle of the ramp can be extra challenging for static balance.
- Gait belt. What would therapy be without one? It can also be used to resist patients when they walk as well as provide lateral sway to assist with advancing gait.
- Home exercise programs. With pictures and clear descriptions of each activity.
- And one of the most important items that I have used is another language. Although my command of another language is not fluent, I do have a list of words such as stand up, walk, right, left, where is the pain, etc. A language guide is definitely a must have in a facility with non-English speakers. There are auto-interpreters on the internet as well but the accuracy is not always 100 percent with the phrases.
I did not include upper and lower extremity weights because the theraband can provide the resistance needed during a therapy session. When multiple patients are seen theraband is also a quick and easy way to facilitate an exercise session.
Before there were machines for resistance or gel centered balance discs there was us, the providers of the therapy sessions. If we can provide care that tests the patient's limits without a lot of equipment, then we know we can give our patients quality care in any environment and make an assessment that can only benefit our outcomes in the care we provide. The equipment used should only be an extension of what we can provide, it should not be the only thing we provide.