Physical therapy can help keep your joints and muscles working properly. Physical therapy can also rehabilitate joints after a bleed. Better fitness can help improve balance and strength and cut down on accidents.
Joint pain, stiffness, and concern about bleeds lead many people with hemophilia to give up on physical activity and become increasingly sedentary. However, muscle and joint weakness leads to more bleeds, and a sedentary lifestyle contributes to the development of other conditions such as osteoporosis and diabetes.
What does it involve?
Even a few sessions with a physical therapist may teach you strategies to improve joint function and overcome physical challenges. At your first visit with a physical therapist, they will carefully assess your condition and interview you about your medical history. The therapist may test your strength or range of motion. They will help you prioritize which problems you want to work on during sessions. A good therapist will encourage you to challenge yourself while respecting your comfort levels.
Your physical therapist will teach you different exercises you can do on your own at home. Which exercises you do with your therapist will depend entirely on your condition and your goals. Exercises may include stretching, strengthening, and conditioning movements.
It is important not to become discouraged early on in therapy. Focus on slow, gradual progress toward goals.
The three main goals of physical therapy are to ease pain, prevent disability, and improve function.
In a small study, regular physical therapy and exercise were shown to improve joint function and decrease bleeding risk.
Most types of insurance will only pay for a limited number of physical therapy appointments.
Some hemophilia symptoms, including joint pain and stiffness, can make it difficult to stay motivated to keep up with physical therapy exercises.
Depending on where you live, it may be hard to travel to physical therapy visits.