People with little to no leg strength are either saddled with a temporary injury or a permanent disability. They might also be suffering from a chronic condition that requires bed confinement as in the cases of many older adult patients or those who are still healing from a fracture or leg surgery.

 

Being temporarily or permanently bedridden entails many health issues. As the patient has little or non-existent mobility on the legs, he or she will need to rely on someone else's help in aspects of physical fitness, grooming, hygiene, and overall well-being.

Do Leg Exercises

Limited or non-existent activity results in muscle weakness, which can happen to someone who has to stay in bed for a long period. With little or no movement, the muscle mass on the legs thin out and atrophy. The legs could also shorten since the muscles aren't stretched.

In these situations, daily low-intensity exercises will help prevent muscle atrophy, as well as protect the muscle from wasting away. Low-intensity movements can also lessen complications in a patient suffering from a fracture, a lifelong disease, or a disability.

Among the important exercises to do daily for someone with an affected leg function include:


  • Ankle exercise. This helps increase blood circulation in the lower limbs. The ankles and heels should be held by another person or a caregiver a few inches off the bed as the patient tries to bend the foot backward and forward, one at a time, and for several intervals.

  • Muscle-strengthening exercise. This entails stretching the hamstring with the help of the carer. With the patient lying down on her back and with legs straight on the bed, the caregiver should lift one leg and try to bring it to the patient’s chest level at an angle and without bending the knees. This exercise will also keep the hamstring muscles flexible.

  • Leg-hip exercise. This exercise is perfect for preventing muscle atrophy. As the patient lies on his or her backside, he or she has to bend one knee gently with the foot flat on the bed. The other leg has to remain straight with the foot facing upwards. Slowly lift the hips a few inches and hold the position for five seconds. The patient needs to put weight and force on the leg muscles before switching legs and repeating the process.  


Manage Grooming and Hygiene

Basic bedtime routines will definitely change for someone with mobility problems. Patients might not be strong enough to get up and take a shower without any assistance. As such, it might be helpful to have a bed bath every other day if bathing in the bathroom will bring more risks.

If the patient can still brush his or her own teeth, simply prepare a separate water basin and the necessary supplies before bedtime.

Other Hygiene Needs

  • Change clothes and underwear daily even without the bed bath.

  • Trim the nails weekly to prevent germs from collecting and burrowing in the toes and fingers.

  • Change bedding regularly as these can get easily soiled when the patient is on the bed all the time.

Create a Comfortable Environment

A patient confined to the bed needs to thrive in a comfortable environment as it promotes healthy emotional and mental well-being.


  • Use a leg lifter strap with a foot loop and hand grip to allow your patient to safely move their injured limb on their own (or with your assistance). This can encourage independence during the recovery period after a surgery and boost the patient’s confidence and overall wellbeing.

  • Ensure that the room gets regular sunlight as it’s a natural disinfectant.

  • Open the windows during the day to allow the air to circulate.

  • Place a nightstand next to the bed to keep the phone, alarm clock, food, water, or a book within reach.

  • Keep distractions minimal as much as possible and the bedroom should be free from obstructions to allow carers more room to assist.

Prevent Bedsores

Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, appear as skin injuries. These develop due to prolonged pressure and friction on the skin against the surface of the bed as the patient might be incapable to change position often.

Bedsores might appear on the back, including the head, shoulder blades, lower back, hip, tailbone, skin behind the knees, heels, and ankles. As the circulation decreases in the area, signs and symptoms begin to appear:

 

  • Swelling and tenderness on the skin

  • Change in the skin color and texture

  • Warming or cooling of the affected skin

  • Pus-formation

If unchecked and untreated, bedsores can lead to life-threatening infections, hence, frequently changing positions at least every two hours is a must for a person confined in the bed. Regular visits to a physical therapist and an orthopedic doctor are also important.

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