Surviving the Holidays While Rehabilitating

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! For patients recovering from injuries, however, the upcoming holidays may be anything but. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re trying to heal. That’s where you step in as a therapist. It’s important to prepare your patients to feel confident without you. These are some basic pearls of advice you can give them to survive the holidays!

Plan Ahead

Just like everything else you plan for during the holidays, therapy movements are no different. Your patients may be on their feet more, preparing food or wrapping presents. In order to compensate for this additional stress on the body, break up the big to-do list into small segments. Most side dishes can be made in advance of a holiday. You could even look up new recipes to try this season to make your life easier! There’s no reason to spend hours on your feet when you can split up the responsibilities or enlist help from others.

Watch What You Eat

This is much easier said than done when faced with glistening sugar cookies or creamy mashed potatoes. However, recovery can be made much more difficult if a patient is overweight. It has been said that people gain on average 5-9 pounds over the holidays. This can exacerbate injuries and increase joint pain. It’s important to encourage a well-balanced diet. Yes, that means saying yes to treats, but limiting the amount. It might be a good idea to encourage patients to plan ahead on how many treats they are willing to have. 

Keep Moving

We all know what typically happens after a large turkey dinner and pumpkin pie: rest. However, as easy as it may be to become sedentary over the holidays, it is important to keep moving and stretching.  If you are traveling by car, make stops along the way at rest areas where you can walk around. Keeping active can help prevent weight gain, blood clots and muscle soreness. If you aren’t moving the areas of injury, pain and stiffness may increase.

Tummy to Backbone

Having a strong core can help to prevent back injuries. A simple exercise patients can do from anywhere is flexing their tummy into their backbone. This will strengthen the area and prevent further injuries.

Don’t Neglect the Routine

You have given your patients movements to do at home. Stress the importance of keeping their therapy routines up, in order to not take a step backward in therapy. You may want to send them home with modified versions of the normal routine that they can do in small spaces or in the car. Help make the decision to continue with the routine a no-brainer by making it as easy as possible!

Your patient should have a smooth transition back to therapy with these tips! Become a NARA member to stay up to date on all of the latest updates in physical, occupational and speech therapies.