Exercises For The Bedridden
If you look at the current situation of patients in hospitals nowadays, you will be surprised to see that the number of bedridden patients is increasing. You can also notice that those who are taken at home for palliative care are mostly bedridden individuals, too. There are many reasons why they end up being like this: some have debilitating disease such as multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia, others have encountered a vehicular accident, while some patients have reached the worst case—being in a coma.
Limited Mobility Bedridden: How Can You Perform Exercises?
Since bedridden patients have very limited mobility, it is highly encouraged that they perform even only range of motion (ROM) exercises. Even for a short duration, if performed regularly (like three times a day, for example), it greatly reduces the possibility of these people getting contractures or bed sores.
Contractures are painful in nature, and it doubles the burden a bedridden patient carries. They may make it difficult for especially for the elderly to even turn to the other side of the bed.
A bed sore, on the other hand, often occurs in bony prominences such as the sacral part (the bony part just above the buttocks) or the heel, and it predisposes patients to infection due to an open wound. It may start out as a reddened area, but it can go worse and proceed to a deep, painful ulceration.
Another complication that bedridden patients might get is atrophy of muscles. This takes place when the muscle group is left unused, therefore, shortening and weakening occur. A mobile person prevents this from happening through walking, jogging, and running in treadmill; even simple activities such as lifting a glass of water or cleaning windows will prevent the occurrence of muscle atrophy. But these easy activities are far from easy to be performed by people who are bedridden.
Perform Exercises for Bedridden Clients
These highlight the importance of bedridden individuals’ maintaining mobility amidst of being in bed for very long periods of time. Here are some exercises you can safely do to prevent complications of being bedridden.
When beginning your exercise regimen, you can start with the most distal extremity. It is also good to start with small parts of the body since it helps build your tolerance to mobility little by little. You can practice first with your hand, since this is the most accessible part of the most bedridden patient.
- Bring your entire hand in a first for a couple of seconds.
- Open your palm, and stretch your fingers freely for five seconds.
- Touch each finger to your thumb.
- Repeat the same process on the opposite hand.
You can do this simple exercise for a couple of times on each hand, but numerous repetitions should not be considered as critical. As long as you are able to move the joints between your fingers and your hands, then, you will do fine. This will prevent stiffness in your joints and also exercise the little muscles you have in your fingers. A reminder though: remember to ask for help if you are too weak to perform it. A caregiver or a loved one can assist you as you please.
It does not take a long time before a group of muscle weakens, and performing muscle-strengthening exercises even while on bed can arrest the occurrence. For patients who are recovering, extremity lifts can be done independently. However, there are some who cannot still perform exercises on their own. Like the previous exercise, the family or caregivers can assist them on this, thus, lessening the effort and paving the way to an eventual regaining of health.
For arm lifts, you can do the following:
- Begin with your dominant hand. Lift your arm as high as you can. If this becomes too difficult for you, you can settle with resting your upper arm on the bed and lifting your elbow instead until it creates a 90-degree angle.
- Hold up your arm for 10 seconds. You can extend for 30 seconds if you do not feel any pain going beyond 10 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise on the other arm.
For leg lifts, follow these steps:
- Bring both of your legs flat on bet together.
- Start with your left leg. Slightly lift it up, maintaining it in a straight alignment.
- Bring it to your hip joint slowly. Hold it on that lift for 10 to 20 seconds.
- Return the leg to its original position. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Pressure ulcers or bed sores are the main complication each bedridden individual should try to avoid. Similar to contractures, this damage is irreversible. But unlike contractures, this brings much more deformity because of deep wounds. Primary prevention of bed sores is frequent turning, like side-rolling, with two hours being the maximum interval between turns. Bedridden individuals can be turned every 15 or 30 minutes. The more frequent, the better; but it pays to make sure that the patient’s comfort is not compromised.
Steps how to do side-rolling:
- Start on your back. Turn to your right and maintain that position for 30 minutes. You can ask a family member to position your limbs for comfort.
- Get back on your back again. Maintain the position for 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
- Turn to your left. Stay in this position for another 30 minutes.
- Repeat process throughout the day to reduce pressure on bony prominences and as to halt the occurrence of pressure sores even before they occur.
You can maintain on a certain side (e.g. On your right) for longer than 30 minutes but not more than two hours. Make sure, however, that your limbs on that side such as your hands and feet as well as your hips are being mobilized often so as not to concentrate the pressure on these parts.
Isometric exercises are also good for bedridden patients for these stretches or lengthen the muscles. Aside from being lengthened (such as when you do hamstring stretch), muscle groups also need to be strengthened to prevent atrophy. Some of these strengthening exercises are thigh-squeezers and butt-tighteners.
How to do thigh-squeezers:
- Lie on your back, with your legs together.
- Put a towel in a lengthwise position between your knees. For variation, you can use a moderately soft, long pillow for this.
- Squeeze in the towel or the pillow with the use of your knees and hold it for 10 seconds. Release the squeeze and rest for 10 seconds.
You can perform this exercise both in the morning and in the evening. You can repeat it for five to ten times. But it is important not to strain yourself.
Butt-tighteners are good for bedridden individuals recovering from hip surgery. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, this type of exercise help patients regains strength of the muscle groups around the hips and the glutes while lowering the risk of blood clots.
Follow these simple steps:
- Start by lying on your back with legs slightly apart.
- You can begin with your right butt muscle, then, strengthen it. Hold this for 5 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds.
- Repeat on your left glute muscle. You can repeat this exercise 10 times.
Use of Special Equipment’s for Exercise
Since astronauts need a lot of exercise in the space to counteract with the absence of gravity, specialized equipment for them have been devised. A good thing, however, is that these equipment’s have been made available also for bedridden patients.
One example is the vertical treadmill that lets an individual to climb up a wall, but with the specialized supports attached to each limb. This requires greater strength of bedridden individuals, thus, ability to exert effort is a main consideration.
Another is fly wheel devices that can be used as a leg press for the bedridden. This effect of fly wheels has been commended by the Human Performance Laboratory at Indiana.
Exercise: Not Only for the Body, But Also for the Mind
Performing these exercises can greatly affect the independence level as bedridden patients recuperate with their conditions. Not only that they are spared from acquiring bed sores by being a little more mobile in their beds, but also they get to exercise their muscles, therefore, preventing its gradual decay.
They have to remember, though, that their ability to perform these exercises highly depend on their energy level. So strenuous exercises for the bedridden can be done at their peak energy levels, while those that require minimal efforts can be performed through the day repeatedly. It is important as well that they should stop exercising before they get tired to conserve some energy.