Physical therapy is best approached through an eclectic assortment of different methods and technologies. This allows for a fully customizable therapy regimen for each individual based on his or her specific needs. For many people in Senior Care Centers facilities, therapeutic ultrasound is used to fulfill a variety of purposes.
Therapeutic ultrasound has been in use for decades. The technology produces high-pitched sound waves, or ultrasound vibrations, through a head of a wand or probe. These waves are beyond the range of human hearing and cause body tissues to vibrate, which produces a sort of heating effect. The wand can be either pulsed or used continuously, depending on the effect desired.
Ultrasound waves are produced by creating a piezoelectric effect (a type of electrical current) by vibrating crystals inside the head of the probe. A gel is used on the head to help transfer this current from the device to the tissue, which can have a variety of effects on the body. These effects include:
- Relaxation of soft tissue, such as muscles
- Breakdown of scar tissue
- Increased blood flow to the area treated
- Decreased inflammation and swelling
These effects allow for a variety of uses in physical therapy for seniors. Many of these take advantage of the heating effects, while others tend to stem from the increased circulation and relaxation.
Given the heating and relaxation effects that ultrasound therapy has on the body, it can be used for multiple purposes. These include the following:
- Reduced cramping, spasms, and pain from exercise and therapy
- Improved extensibility (the ability to straighten out and stretch) in joints to decrease stiffness
- Treating injuries to the tissue, such as muscle injuries, tendonitis, and ligament injuries
- Reduction of chronic inflammation
- Gently massaging tissue for pain reduction after exercise and other causes of pain
- Treatment of arthritis symptoms such as stiffness and joint pain
- Promoting healing/tissue repair
For many seniors, therapeutic ultrasound is an integral part of physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Is It Right for Me?
In most situations, therapeutic ultrasound is perfectly harmless and provides a number of benefits. In situations where its heating effect shouldn’t be used, such as with fresh injuries, it can be pulsed to reduce discomfort.
Ultrasound therapy is not used if the tissue area has:
- Metal implants
- Malignant cell growths
- Acute infections
- Malformations or clumpings of blood vessels
At Senior Care Centers, we provide our residents with a wide variety of physical therapy options, including therapeutic ultrasound. We strive to meet the specific needs of each individual under our care.