Healthcare Insider Blog

Encouraging stories of the power of physical therapy for aging adults

  • Healthcare Alvernia

In a previous Healthcare Insider blog, we discussed the role of a doctor of physical therapy working in the geriatric care sector, and the general importance of physical fitness for aging adults.

“Older adults can gain a lot by staying physically active,” explains an article by The National Institute of Health (NIH). “Even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or who have diseases that accompany aging.”

Staying physically active can help reduce trips to the hospital, decrease the use of some medications, and prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities.

Most importantly, however, staying strong and fit as a senior citizen grants you more independence and the freedom to continue doing the things you love.

Here are a few uplifting stories of men and women who sought out physical therapy or other resources to help them stay physically active, well into their old age. And who, because of that, are able to continue doing what they love.

Charlie Plaskon

In a recent article by PT in Motion, a product of The American Physical Therapy Association, authors tell the story of 73-year-old Charlie Plaskon. Legally blind since childhood, it wasn’t until age 55 that he decided to take up running, and has now completed over 50 marathons and 8 ironman triathlons.

After a series of injuries, however, including a very serious back injury, Plaskon had to face the possibility that his running career may be over. But with the help of physical therapy, Plaskon, now age 73, is back on track and ready to add to his list of marathons and triathlons.

“The physical therapist, and the physical therapist’s regimentation, is the only thing that has me where I am right now,” Plaskon said. “[My PT] didn’t treat me like the blind old man — I was somebody who was hungry to do good.”

See Plaskon’s story below:

Ray Chavez
NBC News recently featured a story about the oldest known Pearl Harbor survivor, 104-year-old Ray Chavez. This man often returns to Hawaii to honor the men and women lost that day in 1941, however as he gets older it is harder-and –harder to make the trek there. Three years ago he began working out with a personal trainer, gaining 20 pounds of much-needed muscle so that he would have the strength to make it down to Hawaii this year for the 75th Anniversary.

Chavez is yet another example of how physical activity for aging adults gives them the freedom to continue doing the things that are most important to them.

See Chavez’s story below:

Madonna Buder

In Nike’s UNLIMITED ad campaign that ran through this year’s Olympics, one of the most popular stories featured was that of 86-year-old Sister Madonna Buder, aka The Iron Nun.

Sister Buder has completed over 45 ironman races in her lifetime and also became the oldest woman to ever complete an ironman triathlon.

“You either achieve or you self-destruct. If you think positively, you can even turn a negative into a positive,” Sister Buder says in an article by Nike News. “One step at a time makes a marathon.”

See the Iron Nun’s story below:

Effective November 12, 2014, Alvernia University has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314; phone: 703-706-3245; email: Candidacy is not an accreditation status nor does it assure eventual accreditation. Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates the program is progressing toward accreditation.

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