When it comes to diabetes treatment and prevention, regular physical exercise—as in 30 minutes of activity five times per week—is a vital component. A physical therapist (PT) can facilitate that component.
After an initial evaluation, which includes a medical history and medications review, the PT will develop an exercise program, which will involve aerobic activity, such as walking and biking, and resistance training, such as weight lifting. In addition to completing these exercises in the clinic under the observation of the PT (research shows that patients have greater improvement in glycemic control when they perform exercises under supervision), a diabetic patient may also receive a home exercise program to complete.
Diabetes has many complications, including eye diseases, foot ulcers, and peripheral neuropathy. Patients should detail these conditions during initial evaluation, so the PT takes them into account when developing the exercise program. Furthermore, PTs can help treat these complications. For example, PTs can check sensation in feet, provide wound care for skin ulcers, and prescribe orthotics, footwear, and assistive devices.