3 Keys To Recover Your Mobility
By Ph. Chan Chiew Ying (Silvercare Specialist)
April 13, 2022
Written by : Chan Chiew Ying, Alpro Pharmacist | Silvercare Specialist
The 3 Keys To Recover Your Mobility
Yes, we know that as we age, our mobility gets worse due to the deterioration of bones, joints and muscles, which can be further worsen after stroke, surgery and accidents. However, does that mean that we have to accept that we won’t be able to walk smoothly again as we age? The answer clearly is a big NO! First, you have to know what is your current mobility level.
Depending on severity, our mobility is classified into 5 levels:
• Level 1 : Able to walk fast without support.
• Level 2: One hand need a grab support in order to walk fast.
• Level 3: Both hands need to grab support in order to walk fast.
• Level 4: Bedridden but not 100% immobile. Able to use self-propelled wheelchair.
• Level 5: Bedridden & 100% immobilie. High risk of bed sores.
The target is to achieve mobility level 1 and maintain it. The key lies in the strengthening of muscles, protection of knee joints and the use of mobility aiding tool. And of course, the process is definitely not easy but the earlier you start, the faster it is to recover mobility.
The First Key: Strengthening of Muscles
Age-related muscle loss, called sarcopenia, is a natural part of aging. After age 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% to 8% per decade, which further speed up after the age of 60. Most men will lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lifetimes. This involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength, and function is a fundamental cause of and contributor to disability in older people.
This means that the earlier you start to take care of your muscles, the longer you will be able to maintain your mobility. This is especially important for post-stroke, post-accident or post-surgery patients. For an instance, the first 90 days after recovery of a stroke is referred to as the ‘golden period’ which is considered extremely important in the complete rehabilitation of a patient because most of the neurological recovery happens during this time
So, how do we recover and strengthen our muscle mass?
(1) Ensure you have sufficient intake of protein (0.7g/kg/day – 1.0 g/kg/day) everyday, which is the essential nutrients to grow your muscles.
For example, if you were to use 1.0g/kg/day as your standard and your weight is 70kg, then you should take 70g of protein a day. As much as we know that meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy foods are good sources of proteins, but honestly it is not practical for elderly to be able to calculate and eat accordingly, not to mention that they have reduced appetite.
In this case, protein supplements would be a suitable alternative for elderly as they only need to remember how many scoops to take per day.
(2) Do leg exercise for at least 30min a day and repeat 5 times per week. This is because exercise creates microscopic tears in your muscle tissue.
But during rest, cells called fibroblasts repair it. This helps the tissue heal and grow, resulting in stronger muscles and hence better balancing while walking. Different mobility level requires different types of exercises (eg. bed exercise for mobility level 5 and sitting exercise for mobility level 4) so it is best to consult a physiotherapist beforehand.
Pedal exerciser is often used to aid in the mobility recovery process at home as some elderly may still have the fear of falling down while doing exercise outside their house.
The Second Key: Protection of Knee Joints
During the process to recover mobility, it is important to have a proper protection of our knee to prevent exhaustion of joint fluid and inflammation as a result of over wear and tear.
Take note that our knee joint is a very unstable structure, which is highly dependent on the muscles around to keep it in good term, hence muscle weakness is one of the common culprits in causing knee pain.
How to protect and strengthen our knee joints?
(1) Wear knee support in daily basis, especially during exercise or doing housechores. It helps to “grab” the muscles around the knee firmly in place so as to maintain the stability of our knee and prevent it from overdamage.
The fact that many people think knee support is not working for them is mainly due to 2 reasons: wearing the wrong size and wrong type. Refer to the table below to learn about how to choose your knee support.
(2) Taking nutrients that have the effect of replenishing joint fluid (eg. glucosamine, eggshell membrane), recovering joint cartilage (eg. chondroitin, eggshell membrane) and reducing inflammation (eg. MSM, Turmeric, Devil’s Claw). The effect of each food supplement varies from person to person so there’s no saying that which one is the best.
Should we continue to walk if we have knee pain?
Yes, you should continue to walk under proper protections, because the knee pain will get worse without minimal level of mobility due to poor blood circulation to the knee, which results in insufficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients.
In addition, insufficient knee movement will also result in uneven distribution of joint fluid and results in severe joint stiffness.
The Third Key: Mobility Aiding Tool
Mobility aids, such as wheelchairs and walking aids are designed to help assist individuals in moving and other daily activities. The elderly and disabled often require assistance when it comes to mobility, and aids are designed and tailored specifically to promote safety and independence.
However, you will be surprised that many people tend to choose the wrong type of wheelchair or walking aid that doesn’t match with their current mobility level. For example, most of our customers with mobility level 3 would go for one-handed support instead of two-handed support as they feel that it makes them look old and useless.
Choosing the wrong support would highly increase the risk of falling down!
Talk to our Silvercare Specialist for advice in choosing the correct support for your loved one.
Chan Chiew Ying, Alpro Pharmacist | Silvercare Specialist
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