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Helen Hayes Hospital
Route 9W, West Haverstraw
NY 10993
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At-Home Guidelines for Our Outpatients: A Note from the HHH Outpatient Neurology Team

Posted on: May 12, 2020

“Movement is medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional and mental states.” – Carol Welch

Our outpatients at home are in our thoughts and we are working hard to provide at-home guidance for everyone working on their at-home recovery and home exercise programs during this time.

Check out these suggestions from the physical therapists in our Outpatient Neurology Department for ideas on how to maximize your home recovery and stay healthy physically and mentally during this time of social distancing (and beyond!)

 

General Guidelines

  • Remember your goals. What is your reason? Use it as motivation to keep going every day. Nothing can be achieved without hard work every day, so keep trying. We believe in you!!
  • Follow the Home Exercise Program prescribed by your therapist.
    • Try to perform the specific exercises at least 3 times/week. If your program has many exercises, it is ok to break them up into manageable parts, or to focus on one type of exercise each day. For example, one day focusing on strengthening and stretching; another day focusing on balance or endurance.
    • 30-45 minutes/day
    • We recommend writing out a schedule of their exercise program including a walking and/or standing schedule for those who are able.
      • Hold yourself accountable!  In the same way that you would not miss a therapy appointment, don’t miss your scheduled exercise time.
  • Be cognizant of your surroundings!
    • Have something sturdy to grab with arms reach if you are losing your balance. A sturdy couch or countertop is your best friend. You can also place a chair behind you in case you lose your balance backwards.
  • Try to change positions often throughout the day.
    • Do not sit for longer than 20-30 minutes (even if that means standing up for a few seconds during a television show then returning to sit).
      • Sitting still for too long can make your muscles stiff, and can make it harder and less safe to initiate standing and walking when you do get up.
  • Wear the appropriate footwear for your activity.
    • If you are working on your balance exercises advised by your former or current treating therapist, you may want to wear footwear that has some traction on your wood or tile floor.
  • Stay hydrated!
    • If you are someone that is not accustomed to drinking water, let’s start with having a bottle of water with each meal. Try to sip water throughout the day.
    • The general rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces. For example, a 120 lb. individual should drink 60 ounces of water per day.
    • Keeping well hydrated helps prevent illness, helps with constipation, boosts cognition (thinking), lubricates your joints, and helps regulate body temperature. Remember water is an essential nutrient our bodies need.
    • The American Heart Association states, “If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.” If you have kidney or other issues, your doctor may have set fluid restrictions for you. Speak with your doctor and follow recommendations accordingly.
  • Socialization
    • This is extremely challenging during this time when we are being told to practice social distancing. However, we may have more time to catch up with family and friends over the phone or via video calls (Facetime or Whatsapp).
    • Make it a point to connect with at least one person per day. Reach out to family, friends and neighbors who live alone

 

Nutrition

  • We are not just our physical bodies, and our physical health does not only have to do with physical activity. Be mindful of what you eat. Set realistic goals and do the best you can. If this feels overwhelming, start with breakfast. Set a goal to eat a healthier breakfast. Once this has been done, move on to lunch, and then dinner. Now you are eating 3 heart and brain healthy meals a day! Remember: we are not perfect, we are human. It’s ok to make a mistake or slip up, but as long as the majority of your meals and habits are healthy, you will be in a better place.

**Discuss with your doctor what your specific dietary needs are for your healthiest lifestyle.

 

Taking care of your Mental Health

Exercise and nutrition are critical, but so is our mental and emotional well-being. Make time to read a good book (between exercises!), watch an enjoyable TV show or movie (as long as this isn’t the ONLY thing you do), and one of the most important things we should all do is give meditation a try. There are countless benefits to meditation especially during these stressful, anxious times. We recommend getting into a daily habit of meditation. While meditating in the morning is often recommended, any time that works for you will be helpful.

Meditation resources:

Also, try a Google search for “free meditations” or choose a topic of your choice (i.e., anxiety, restlessness, stress, depression) and find the meditation that is right for you.

We hope these tips will help you as you continue to rehabilitate at home. We are thinking of you, wishing you the best, and eagerly anticipating the time when we can see you again!

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