9.6 Minimising risks

What complications may arise in relation to the physiotherapy programme?

Physiotherapy programmes are designed to challenge individuals in various ways, so that they may build on strength, balance and co-ordination gains. As a result of these challenges, there are some risks that carers should be aware in order to minimise them. These include:

  1. Falls - some exercises may challenge balance and strength of an individual, and thus potentially pose a falls risk for the individual. To minimise this risk, ensure the environment is safe and set up appropriately. Use necessary equipment, such as such as practicing balance exercises with a chair or bed behind so the individual can sit down if necessary. Use equipmenmt such as walking/transfer belt, to assist with handling and to minimise injury. Always ensure that you are safely able to manage the task within your own limitations. If you are unsure, have an additional person to assist until you are confident.
  2. Loss of range of movement – If an individual is unable to actively move their limb, then they are at risk of losing range of motion due to muscle shortening. This risk is heightened if splinting and stretching programmes are not adhered to. If there is significant loss of range in a joint, deformity may develop which can be very painful. There is also a potential for the development of pressure areas with significant deformity as maintenance of skin integrity becomes more difficult.
  3. Pressure areas – there is a risk of the development of pressure areas, particularly from splints. Skin should be checked regularly on removal of splints for redness and skin breakdown. Contact should be made to the prescriber of the splint as soon as a problem is detected.