Group physiotherapy programme experiences in older adults

How do they perceive group physiotherapy at a rehabilitation hospital?

Group exercise therapy is often promoted by physiotherapists, especially for older people. Training together appears to be a good way to stimulate patients, while at the same time it provides in social dimension of health. Moreover, it is cost-efficient for therapists and for the health system as a whole.

As part of the patient-centered care approach – a keystone in rehabilitation of older people – it seems essential to be aware of the patient's experience of group physiotherapy.

The aim of the present study was to explore the experiences of older hospitalised patients of group physiotherapy exercises. This allows the collecting of elements that may help in designing programmes in the future. Simultaneously it improves participation, satisfaction and clinical benefits in this population. The results highlighted feelings of satisfaction, enjoyment and gratitude, increased motivation, shared experience and social benefits.

Taking the above into account, this qualitative study clearly supports group physiotherapy exercises for hospitalised older adults. They see a group approach as a direct alternative to individual sessions. As a result, physiotherapists can consider proposing group sessions whenever appropriate as part of the physiotherapy treatment.

> From: Raymond et al., J Hosp Med 11 (2016) 358-362 . All rights reserved to Society of Hospital Medicine. Click here for the online summary.

Expert opinion

This study is interesting, as it provides experiences and perceptions of older people themselves about group physiotherapy sessions. Beyond physical benefits, the social and psychological dimensions of group therapy are particularly emphasised here: it provides motivation, social support and awareness. This is a good example of a bio-psycho-social approach.

Moreover, the point here is not to oppose individual and group physiotherapy sessions. Both modalities have their own advantages, and a personalised combination of both approaches is appropriate and beneficial to obtain an individualised treatment while getting the best of peers and group sessions for hospitalised older adults.

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