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PTA Blog Talk

Steps to Conquer

Published July 2, 2014 9:14 PM by Jason Marketti

I moved, again. Every time I find a new place to live, there seems to be several steps to negotiate and this can cause some problems with me. There are days my joints do not want to move as fast as I think I can and I wonder how I will be in 20 years. And woe unto me if I break a leg because I'll have a heck of a time going up and down steps just to answer a door.

In hindsight, I should have listened to what so many patients have advised me over the years, "Move into a ranch-style home." The patients who have one-level homes seem to glide across the floor during home assessments, show no hesitation when opening the front door, and walk from room to room with confidence and at times flash and flare.

I've seen patients who live in multilevel homes with stairs to enter become hesitant once they're at the top of the stairs, wondering how they're going to open the front door without falling backward while holding onto an assistive device. After a rest in their favorite recliner chair, they talk about how the laundry is in the basement and their bedroom is upstairs. When the subject of a home helper comes up, there are quite a few who aren't able to afford it because of their fixed income.

I had one patient who was cleared to do a home assessment and she had five steps to enter her home with a sturdy rail. She put one foot up on the step and told me she couldn't do it. When asked how she would get in the home after being discharged, she said, "The fire department comes out and helps me up the steps."

"Every time?"

"Yes. They told me I could call them anytime to get up the steps."

"What if there's a fire and someone needs to be saved and they're busy helping you?"

"They shouldn't have told me to call them anytime to get into my house."

That was the end of the home assessment and it was reported to the PT. The patient went home anyway and probably called the fire department to get into her house. I'm not sure who is at fault, the fire department for encouraging the patient to use their resources or the patient who didn't want to extend herself and work a little harder in therapy to increase her independence.

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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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