Kayaking, bow-hunting and wheelchair basketball are all great, but as individuals age and/or become more disabled their physical abilities may not enable them to continue participating. Exercise continues to be crucially important to keeping as healthy and physically capable as possible for a given individual.
What are range of motion exercises?
Range of motion is movement of each joint through its typical range of activity. Range of motion exercises mean exercising each joint of the patients body through its typical range of activity. The exercise can be either done by the patient themselves or with the assistance of another individual. Exercising the joints is essential to avoid complications of bed rest, like contractures and muscle wasting.
Range of motion (ROM) exercises are done to preserve as long as possible the use of the joints on which they are performed. These exercises reduce stiffness and will prevent or at least slow down the freezing of joints in patients with limited movement. Range of motion is the term that is used to describe the amount of movement you have at each joint. Every joint in the body has a "normal" range of motion. Joints maintain their normal range of motion by being moved. It is therefore very important to move all your joints every day. Stiff joints can cause pain and can make it hard for you to do your normal daily activities. That is why it is so important for you to continue to move your joints.
Each person with a mobility impairment or illness needs a program of exercise tailored to his or her individual needs and abilities. With a prescription your doctor can either send you to an outpatient clinic to see a Physical Therapist or have one come to your home to help you design a personalized exercise program. The therapist will see you until you or your caregiver are independent with a home exercise program that you can follow through with daily.
It is important to remember that some diseases and disorders are progressive this means the person loses more abilities over time. The type of ROM exercises you will need will change. It is important to be hands-on when this occurs and ask your doctor to write you another prescription to see a therapist so your home exercise program can be modified.
TYPES OF ROM EXERCISES
There are different kinds of ROM exercises. There are stretching exercises you can do yourself when you have the muscle strength to move your joints through their complete ranges. These are called Active ROM exercises. There are Self-ROM exercises which involve using a stronger arm to assist a weaker arm to perform the exercises, eliminating the need for caregiver assistance.
Then there are Passive ROM exercises which are done for a weaker person by a caregiver. Often a combination of the types of ROM exercises above will be used. For instance if a person has strong arms but very weak legs, he would use an active ROM program for the arms independently and a passive ROM program for the legs. Even within a limb the type of exercise used can vary depending on the strength of the different muscle groups. People with increased muscle tone (spasticity) will also need to learn techniques to decrease the tone before exercising. What type of ROM exercises are most effective for an individual is best determined by a therapist who can evaluate muscle strength and tone.
Lower Extremity Passive ROM Exercises
Lower extremity passive exercises are for someone else to stretch your hips, legs, and knees if you are unable to do this yourself. These exercises should be done slowly and gently while you are lying on your back. Each exercise should be done ten times on each leg each day.
ROM - How to do it