Children with development disabilities have a wealth of programs for them in Virginia. Once they graduate from high school, what’s next?
As these young adults age, their activity level is reduced. Strength lessens, range of motion decreases, balance and functional mobility challenges arise, and independence wanes. It’s harder to get around than it used to be and caregivers have to provide more physical assistance than before.
What’s happening? They are aging and experiencing body changes. Muscles, bones, nerves, heart, and lungs weaken over time just like anyone who ages; but, sometimes it’s harder for adults with developmental disabilities to express aches, pains, or increased challenges.
People with developmental disabilities can benefit from a lifespan approach to therapy. Appropriate management through the following therapies helps to prevent secondary impairments that can result in decreased mobility, increased deformities, and issues with pain. Therapy to address these impairments can lead to improved quality of life and increased community participation.
Physical therapy to:
• improve strength and functional mobility
• evaluate wheelchair and equipment needs for changes or upgrades
• increase overall health and fitness
• manage pain
• provide caregivers with lifting mechanics advice
Occupational therapy to:
• improve independence and activities of daily living
• facilitate engagement in desired occupations
• explore the use of assistive technology
• recommend environmental adaptations
• evaluate and treat upper extremity deficits
Speech language pathology to:
• evaluate for communication disorders
• provide tips for effective communication
• review swallowing and provide recommendations to improve safety with eating and drinking
Increased community participation can be achieved at Club Rec, a day recreation program for individuals with a disability or physical limitation who can benefit from supervised social, recreational and wellness activities. Through a holistic approach, the recreation therapists at Club Rec promote healthy living and help adults adapt to life after illness or injury, with the goal of enhancing quality of life. They organize events and activities such as cooking, crafts, fitness, and outings to the movies, restaurants, retail stores and others. There are also more active trips to go fishing, camping, and to enjoy other outdoor experiences in addition to community activities like gardening, caroling, and volunteering.
Every person is different, but everyone changes with age. Ask a doctor for a referral to physical therapy to assist adults with developmental disabilities. With a therapist’s evaluation, a program to enhance quality of life can be developed. To learn more, call 877-56-REHAB to schedule an evaluation.
Caroline Waldron, PT, from Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Centers has put together a resource for ways to better address the aging process in young adults with developmental disabilities.