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Physical Therapy at Home

December 7, 2021

Dr. Karen Litzy, PT, DPT

I have been providing in-home physical therapy for almost a decade. Over that time, the view of home health physical therapy has changed considerably. Traditionally, home-based physical therapy was for homebound people or those very deconditioned after an illness or hospital stay who could not get to an outpatient physical therapy clinic.

While this may have been the case in years past, the reality of today is very different. According to market research from Dun and Bradstreet First Research, over the past year and a half, there has been a market expansion of at-home physical therapy services due to a shift in people wanting someone to come to them vs. going to a crowded clinic environment.

Physical Therapy At Home: Myths and Facts

Now that we know there is a greater demand for at-home physical therapy services, let’s dispel some common myths.

  • Myth #1: You must be "homebound" or even "bedbound" to receive care in the home.
  • Fact: Absolutely not! Anyone from children to the aging can receive physical therapy services at home. These sessions can be covered by insurance or paid out of pocket.
  • Myth #2: You must have all of the "cool or fancy equipment" at home for proper rehab.
  • Fact: Not necessarily. You can perform plenty of exercises with household items, use stairs in the home, or a physical therapist can bring in smaller exercise equipment. I have also recommended to my clients, and even my parents, the WATERPIK PowerPulse Therapeutic Strength Massage shower head to get the benefits of massage right at home. There are some instances when larger gym equipment is needed and if that is the case, you might be able to go to the local gym with your therapist for a few sessions to get set up, then continue on your own.
  • Myth #3: Home health care is just a bridge until you are ready for "real therapy" at a clinic.
  • Fact: Physical therapists can and do see their clients for an entire plan of care in the home without ever stepping foot in a clinic.

At-Home Exercise Routine for Healthy Aging

As a physical therapist, one of my biggest goals with clients is healthy aging. What does this mean? It means keeping people strong, flexible, and mobile as they age so they can continue to be happy and healthy. As always, please check in with your physical therapist or physician before starting any new exercise or stretching program.

Here are a few functional exercises you can easily do at home to help keep you strong and flexible as you age.

Sit to Stand (aka Squats)

  1. Find a sturdy but comfortable chair (a dining chair works great)
  2. Start in a seated position with your feet firmly on the ground
  3. Without using your hands, move from sitting to standing
  4. Stand for 2-3 seconds
  5. Return to sitting in a slow and controlled manner without your hands
  6. Repeat 10 times for 2-3 sets
  • Easier Option: Use your hands to help stand up and lower yourself down
  • Challenging Option: Hold on to a weight, jug of water, or heavy pot in both hands as you move through the exercise

Heel Raises

  1. Start standing with your feet about hip-width apart
  2. Raise up on your toes, lifting your heels off the ground as high as is comfortable
  • Easier Option: Hold on to the back of a chair for balance and stability
  • Challenging Option: Perform without holding on to anything to challenge your balance

Hamstring Stretch

  1. Start lying down on your back (on the ground or the bed is fine) with both knees bent
  2. Grab behind one thigh with both hands to support the leg
  3. Lift the foot of the leg you are holding up towards the ceiling as you straighten the leg. The goal is to feel a medium-sized stretch (remember to keep the other leg bent)
  4. Hold for about ten seconds and repeat 4-5 times, then switch legs

Calf Stretch

  1. Start by standing with your hands on a wall in front of you
  2. Place one foot in front of the other
  3. The back leg will be straight, and the front leg will be bent
  4. Keeping the heel of your back leg down on the ground, lean forward until you feel a stretch in the calf muscles of the back leg
  5. Hold about ten seconds and repeat 2-3 times on each side

Go for a Walk

The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Going for a brisk walk qualifies as moderate exercise, a thirty-minute walk five days a week will meet these recommendations.

You can make it social by making "walking dates" with your family or friends. Or you can have some "me time" and listen to an audiobook or a great podcast.

Cool Down

Finish off your exercise or walking session with a shower using the WATERPIK PowerPulse Therapeutic Strength Massage shower head. It is clinically shown to help reduce muscle tension, increase flexibility, and promote restful sleep. It is the perfect complement to any exercise or stretching program.

Bio: Dr. Litzy, PT, DPT

Dr. Litzy, PT, DPT is a licensed physical therapist, international speaker and owner of Karen Litzy Physical Therapy, PLLC in New York City. Through her work as a physical therapist, she has helped thousands of people including Fortune 500 CEOs, royalty and celebrities overcome painful conditions, recover from surgery, and feel stronger than ever before.

Water for Wellness Council

Dr. Litzy is a member of our Water for Wellness Council, a group of health and wellness experts with varying expertise ranging from fitness to physical and massage therapy.