Many elderly nursing home residents in Kentucky and elsewhere throughout the world develop contractures. When joints and muscles do not move, they stiffen, causing the arms and legs to pull in toward the body. The solution to this problem is obvious: keep the joints and muscles moving regularly, and contractures will not develop.
If it’s this easy to prevent contractures, why are nursing home residents still getting them?
Purnananda Kar, Director of Rehabilitation at AHC Garland/Rehabsynergy in Texas, provides the following insight into the continuing problem of contractures.
- Staff members who do not have experience with contractures may be slow to identify them.
- Occupational therapists (OTs) may not be proficient at using orthoses, such as braces and splints.
- Many nursing homes do not provide enough of the necessary materials used in splinting.
- OTs may have difficulty obtaining reimbursement for contracture treatment.
- If other members of the medical team provide little to no feedback on the resident’s response to treatment, the resident’s family may question the treatment’s usefulness.
- The OT must stay in touch with the rest of the medical team, educating them on contracture assessment and management as needed.
- Residents’ families are unaware of the risks of contractures, how and why they develop, and the costs and long-term benefits of an effective treatment plan.
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