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  • Writer's pictureDr. Zykia LaRue, PT, DPT, GCS

What Is Frailty And Can Physical Therapy Help?

Short answer, yes! Physical therapy is crucial in preventing and improving the effects of frailty but lets dive into what frailty is first.

Frailty is defined as a vulnerability that results from change in reserve and function across multiple body systems. In essence, as we age ,and especially if we are sedentary, the systems that help us to maintain our independence: muscles, heart, lungs, nerves, begin to undergo changes that impacts our ability to perform daily tasks or actions such as standing from a chair or walking from one room to the next.

Now, in order to be diagnosed as frail, one would need to meet at least three of the following criteria: unintentional weight loss, low physical activity, weakness, slow walking speed, and/or low energy.

Any of those sound familiar?

Meeting at least 3 of the criteria listed was linked to falls, decline in mobility, hospitalizations, and dependence performing daily activities such as bathing, dressing, cooking, cleaning, etc...

Frailty can significantly impact your independence.Our independence is important and allows us to enjoy the world the way we want to! And if we have the opportunity to stay independent, we will take it!

This is where physical therapy comes in! IT is that opportunity!

Physical therapists can help you maintain your independence by preventing frailty or reducing it effects. You and your physical therapist can develop a plan aimed at improving areas of your health and wellness that are important to you such as: improving your overall strength, maintaining or improving your walking speed, improve your energy through physical activity, reducing your pain, improving your range of motion, and the list could go on and on.

Studies show that at a large number of the older adult population, 47%, can be categorized as prefrail- meaning that they meet 1 or 2 of the frailty criteria. This does not just apply to older adult! Young people can meet the frailty criteria too especially following: trauma, chronic pain, and/or reduction in physical activity.

But luckily we learned (hopefully!) while we read this post that there is something we can do to prevent the onset of frailty- get active and find a physical therapist that can help lead you on your way toward optimizing your health.

Go get active!

Dr. LaRue

LaRue Health and Wellness is here to help! If you are in the D.C. metro area and are in need of physical therapy or fitness services contact us at 202-417-6412,, or visit our website at to learn more about the services we offer.

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