Can physical therapy help with diabetes?
You probably know someone with diabetes. It always hits the top list of conditions that affect both children and adults across America. Most people know that medication can help diabetes, but a less known fact is how physical therapy can help manage it. Here is a few things PTs can do to help not only manage but improve a diabetic condition.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes usually falls into 2 categories: Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus or Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. The difference between the two is the way the body produces and responds to a hormone called insulin. Insulin is important because it is responsible for helping the body absorb sugars. In type 1 diabetes the body is not able produce insulin, but this type is not as prevalent. In type 2 diabetes the body makes insulin, however the body can’t use nor respond to it normally. In either condition, without your body’s ability to use sugars and other carbohydrates, your organs and vital body processes cannot function well.
What can a physical therapist do?
There at least 3 areas that a PT can help with when seeing a patient that has diabetes:
1) Assess body mass
One of the primary causes of diabetes especially with type 2 is obesity. A PT can help assess body mass and use those measurements to track progress throughout the course of an exercise program. This will also help create achievable goals and help losing weight for decreased diabetes symptoms.
2) Resistance exercises
A good resistance exercise program along with proper diet has been known to reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes. The effects are reversed because resistance exercise causes muscles to respond to insulin many times more than when at rest. This increased ability for the body to use insulin allows sugars to be absorbed instead of staying in the blood stream. Physical therapy can help develop the best personalized resistive exercise program that can stimulate these healing effects.
Diabetic neuropathy is a common occurrence with diabetes. Neuropathy happens because diabetes can cause the breakdown of nerves and blood vessels of the body. The breakdown of these structures leads to a loss of sensation, most often in the feet. These losses can lead to inactivity and a decreased awareness of injuries that occur to upper and lower extremities. Physical therapy will provide education and assessment of the neuropathy to modify activity and make daily adjustments to prevent injury.
Diabetes is Treatable
The above mentioned areas are just a few of the many ways physical therapy can make a difference. Give PT a try because diabetes is treatable and physical therapy can help.
Take the Next Step!
If you or someone you know has diabetes or is pre-diabetic, sign up for a free assessment for help:
Isom Allan, PT, DPT
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