Physiotherapy Prevents Early Death in the Mentally Ill

Physiotherapy is a growing field, and many universities and medical organizations are dedicating a significant portion of their resources into funding research into its applications. Many people are aware of its applications for joint health and pain management, but recent research also suggests that it can help deal with mental illness. Doctor Brendan Stubbs, the head of physiotherapy at the South London and Maudsley NHS trust, believes that it can help people who suffer from mental illnesses live significantly longer lives.

Why Do They Die Young?A Danish study that examined lifespans over the past few decades found that while the average lifespan has increased all over the world, people with schizophrenia have had their life expectancy decrease. The shorter lifespan is largely attributable to cardiovascular disease, and it appears that people who suffer from mental illnesses are more prone to cardiovascular disease due to their lifestyles.

Multiple factors contribute to these lifestyle problems. Mental illness can make it difficult to engage in physical activity without support, and inactivity increases the risk of disease. It can also lead to compulsive behaviors and destructive habits, and those habits often do more than the lack of exercise.

How Does It Help?

Physiotherapy has several tools that can help to resolve these problems. At the most basic level, a physiotherapy program can enable patients to have a more active lifestyle. Any increase in physical activity can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in most patients, so these therapies are likely to increase their life expectancies.

Physiotherapy can also help to treat the patient’s underlying mental problems. Doctor Stubbs emphasized its ability to improve cognition and fitness at the same time, but he is not the only scholar who has contributed to the research. The president of the International Organization of Physical Therapists in Mental Health, Michel Probost, has also weighed in on the matter. He recently made a speech that focused on his experience treating patients who suffered from eating disorders. He emphasized physiotherapy’s ability to promote general wellbeing in patients by encouraging them to be aware of their own bodies and actions to help treat their disorders.

It’s unlikely that physiotherapy will become the exclusive treatment for medical disorders, but this research does suggest that it will begin to take a larger role in their treatment in the future. Scientists are still performing research into these topics, so it’s likely that these treatments will be refined and adopted for widespread use in the future.

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