Frailty is a clinical state that is associated with an increased risk of harm, admission to hospital, disability, and poorer quality of life. Frailty refers to a loss of physical strength and physiological reserve, means that an individual living with frailty is more vulnerable to the physically stressing effects of diseases, infections, and injuries. Because of this increased vulnerability, individuals who are frail sometimes require increased care support and monitoring, from medical and allied health, social supports, and personal care.
While there is no absolute standard for frailty, the commonly accepted characteristics of present and increasing frailty include unintentional weightloss, an increasing sense of difficulty in performing reglar tasks like self-care, decreasing engagement with physical activity, slow walking speed, and physical weakness. Not all of these factors need to be present in an individual to classify them as medically frail. The effect of these factors can be amplified by other issues such as disabilities, diseases, physical and cognitive impairments and other risk factors.
Frailty is most commonly seen in the elderly, though any individual can experience frailty as a consequence of illness, injury, or some other factor that depletes the body's ability to maintain itself. For this reason, while frailty is associated with ageing, frailty is a problem separate to ageing and increasing geriatry. Because of this, anyone who experiences a chronic illness, who spends a long time in hospital, or who becomes injured runs the risk of frailty.
Management of frailty through engagement with physiotherapy depends on the degree of impairment and physical change that the individual has experienced as a consequence of their frailty. If someone at risk of developing frailty is attended to rapidly, they stand a greater chance of avoiding more serious effects of weakness and poor energy. For those individuals whose frailty has progressed to the extent that they experience difficulty walking, moving, and engaging with structured exercise, physiotherapy focuses on basic reconditioning with a view to minimising future risk.
Regardless of the factors contributing to frailty or the aims of the treatment, management of the frail individual is always multi-disciplinary, requiring oversight from a medical practitioner like a physician or specialist in addition to one or a few allied health professionals.
Management of your discomfort depends on its causative factors, how it feels and changes during the day, what makes it better and worse, and the length of time you have been experiencing that pain. All of these factors will be addressed in your initial assessment, which is the first step toward managing and minimising any pain or discomfort. The treatment you receive will be tailored to address the specific cause of your discomfort, and will focus on minimising pain, maximising your ability to move pain-free, and developing a plan to minimise the risk of a flare-up in the future.
At Atlas Physio, we will provide you with education, structured management, and ongoing monitoring of your pain both in-clinic and out. Contact us to arrange an assessment, and to take the first step on a course of corrective care today.