What is Deconditioning?
A decline in muscle strength is the most important and consistent feature of deconditioning. Muscle strength in itself matters little; what is important is how changes in muscle strength affect the ability to perform daily activities.
Loss of Muscle Mass Will Lead to:  
1. Increased likelihood to fall. Muscle weakness, especially in the legs, are one of the most important risk factors. Older people with weak muscles are more likely to fall then those who maintain their strength, as well as their flexibility and endurance. This is because appropriate patterns for muscle contraction in the legs, especially while walking, are needed to maintain balance. For example, when you are taking a step you need the muscles that flex your ankle joint to fire, in order to prevent tripping over your own feet. Research shows that weakness to that muscle has been associated with falls in the elderly.
2. More susceptible to fractures. When you exercise, you don’t just build muscle and endurance. You also build and maintain the amount and thickness of your bones. Inactive older adults can develop a condition called osteoporosis, which is characterized by increased bone fragility. As a result, bones break easily. Even the movement of a sneeze may be enough to break a bone in someone with osteoporosis.
3. Loss of energy. The heart is a muscle. Like other muscles, it gets weaker with inactivity. A weaker heart pumps a smaller amount of blood with each beat, requiring more beats to do the same work. Sedentary older adults therefore tend to have higher heart rates and a lower oxygen consumption than active older adults. Since the body needs oxygen to transform nutrients into energy, with lower oxygenation comes lower energy. Along with higher heart rate comes fatigue. It’s a lot of extra work for your heart!


Importance of Physical Therapy
Muscle mass and strength decreases with age, and the trend is even more pronounced in the elderly who are deconditioned. Numerous studies have shown that physical therapy and exercise in older adults increases mobility, and enhances performance of activities of daily living, improves walking, decreases falls, increases bone mineral


Patient Result:
“I had physical therapy for an atrophied leg muscle & general muscle weakness, due to inactivity, as the result of a fall. Even before the fall, muscle weakness made it difficult to transfer from the wheelchair. There had been times when I wondered if I would ever walk again, even with the aid of a walker. Since working with my therapist in the home, I have made a lot of progress toward being able to walk short distances & stand with assurance. With the therapist’s encouragement, I made greater strides than I initially expected.” – D. Calgano
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