Recently there has been much talk about PJ Paralysis, it even featured on the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show as a topic of discussion. For those of you that don’t know, it’s the speed at which muscles waste in older people when in hospital beds, hence pj or pyjama paralysis.
The worrying statistic is the loss of 5% muscle mass per day. That’s 35% Per week. The very real fact is that an elderly person going into hospital able to walk, would after a week no longer be able to.
Returning to home
If the patient is lucky enough to be able to return home, their quality of life will have now drastically changed. The likelihood is they will need a care package provided either from their own budget or from the local authority. This care package will see to their basic needs but is unlikely to contain any action towards ‘reablement’ or getting them back to walking.
This is not a figure I have made up but comes directly from the NHS, I was present at a meeting recently between the local authority and the NHS And care providers on how best to tackle the issue and what can be done to help older people.
Prevention is always the best course of action, I’ve posted before about how exercise can greatly benefit older people and in particular a set of exercises called the Otago principles. As well as being a Qualified soft tissue therapist I am also a qualified personal trainer. I see every single day the direct correlation between muscle under use and soft tissue pain.
There are a number of fantastic resources available out there about PJ Paralysis that can help people in or coming out of hospital but really we want to be stopping our older population getting to the stage where they trop or fall due to unnecessary muscle wastage from lack of movement.
A client of mine kindly agreed to let me use her story as long as I changed her name. So here is Phobes story:-
Phoebe received my details from a member of her family who knew I had fitness experience and am also a qualified soft tissue therapist. We discussed her situation on the telephone. As she lived very near by and was having trouble moving I agreed to see her at home.
As the door opened I was greeted by a lovely lady who was almost bent double at the waist, as she lifted her head to say hello she had to force her hips forward to allow her back to straighten. She ushered me into the living room and took a few steps herself before being forced to bend forward again.
Chatting with Phoebe I got to understand that she had until recently been an active member of a bowling club, which had sadly closed.
She had been travelling to a further club but having been unwell she had not been for a while and now found she could barely stand up or walk.
She openly admitted that she felt that she now had to give up and was resigned to more sedentary days on the sofa and was worried that ‘this was it’
I emphatically explained that this was not going to be the case. We would get her standing straight again, not only that but would get her bowling again!
I spent an hour with Phoebe that first time with no hands on work. I simply worked through a set of exercises with her that would focus on strengthening and flexibility in the initial areas she needed.
These were very basic exercises that she could do without the need for someone watching her and with no risk of falling or injury. She’s a very modern lady so I showed her where to find the exercises on her ipad so she could refer back to them.
The next step
It was ten days or so before I saw her next and what a difference. She was moving much better and was able yo cover much bigger distances without being forced to bend. She was by no means fixed but there was clear improvement.
What was even more striking was her tangible enthusiasm that she could now do more things.
We did some hands on work, gently stretching muscles and working to lengthen and soften fascia that had become stiff and inflexible.
I tweaked her exercises and added a few more to target a larger area of the body and left her to it.
The next time we met I could see even more impressive improvements. Phoebe told me she had actually managed to go bowling!! She also said a number of very flattering but incorrect things. How I had given her a new lease of life and how she thought she was going to have to give up the things she loved and enter into a state of despair and depression.
I corrected her. SHE had done all the work. With my advice SHE had stuck determinedly to the exercises, following them twice a day. SHE had embraced the aches and pains and kept going as her body had begun to adapt and she had taken the initiative to get help.
With a simple set of exercises and some determination phoebe was able to literally change her life.
If you are an older person or have an older relative that might benefit from a reablement programme give me a call for an informal chat.
The same processes will also benefit those recovering from surgery or post injury.
Jason 07980 339 864