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Decreasing Caregiver Burnout and How PT can assist

Mira Rollins, OTR/L

February 15, 2023



What is caregiver burnout exactly and how can physical therapy help decrease it?  


It is important to realize that caregiver burnout is not an episode, but it's a cycle.  Caregiver burnout happens at many stages and seasons throughout their caregiving journey. It's our job as professionals to attempt to disrupt the cycle as frequently and as often as we can by providing the caregiver the tools to identify where they are in the cycle and to disrupt it on their own. Caregiver burnout is not preventable, but it can be drastically mitigated and reduced.

PT Impact

Research shows that physical therapy intervention:

  • Decreases physical injury to caregivers
  • Increases quality of life for caregivers due to increased client mobility and strength
  • Decreases caregiver distress by increasing the safety and function of the client  
  • Indirect relationship in decreasing client behaviors due to increased participation in ADL and IADLs

Research has shown that physical therapy intervention can assist with caregiver burnout by disrupting that cycle by decreasing physical injury to caregivers. Of all disciplines, physical therapy is the primary discipline that can assist with preventing back injuries, neck injuries, and any other associated pain from caring for loved ones. Physical therapy also can increase the quality of life for caregivers due to the increased mobility and strength of the client and decrease caregiver distress by increasing safety and the function of the client.

There's an indirect relationship between decreasing client behaviors due to increased participation in ADL and IADLs. As a physical therapist, you may feel that don't deal with decreasing client behaviors. That's the furthest thing from the truth. I believe that absolutely, you do because, in most behaviors, there is a root cause of the behavior.  Oftentimes, the root cause of a behavior is that the patient is trying to say that he or she wants to be more independent in the area, wants to be able to do something, or is experiencing pain and can't communicate that. 
Oftentimes, the root cause of behaviors is related to function, mobility, and pain, and those are all things that physical therapists directly deal with.

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Decreasing Caregiver Burnoutby Mira Rollins, OTR/L

mira rollins

Mira Rollins, OTR/L

Mira Rollins has been an occupational therapist for over 20 years. The majority of her career has been spent treating geriatrics in rehabilitation skilled nursing facilities. Her clinical experience also includes spinal cord injury and acute care hospital settings. Mira has also had the honor of leading successful rehab teams in her role as director of rehab and regional manager. She now uses her 20 years of experience as an adjunct professor for OTA programs and as the owner of Mira j. Rollins Engagement Programs, a training and consulting company. 

Related Courses

Decreasing Caregiver Burnout
Presented by Mira Rollins, OTR/L
Recorded Webinar


Mira Rollins, OTR/L
Course: #4343Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'Very informative'   Read Reviews
Often times successful outcomes and sustained health and wellness for our patients largely depends on the compliance and performance of a caregiver. This presentation will give specific symptoms to identify caregiver burnout, practical techniques to decrease burn out and billable interventions and goals to incorporate into POC. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT/PTA.

Returning the Skills to Skilled Nursing Facility Rehabilitation
Presented by Mira Rollins, OTR/L, Emily Briggs, OTR/L, RAC-CT
Recorded Webinar


Mira Rollins, OTR/LEmily Briggs, OTR/L, RAC-CT
Course: #4531Level: Intermediate2 Hours
  'Spoke with relatability and gave good applicable examples'   Read Reviews
Due to time and resource constraints, the full potential of SNF rehabilitation patients is not always realized. This presentation will give specific treatment strategies and interventions to improve treatment outcomes and, ultimately, the quality of life of SNF patients.

Supporting the LGBTQ Senior in Healthcare
Presented by Kathleen D. Weissberg, OTD, OTR/L, CMDCP, CDP, CFPS
Recorded Webinar


Kathleen D. Weissberg, OTD, OTR/L, CMDCP, CDP, CFPS
Course: #4096Level: Intermediate2 Hours
  '"By 2030, there will be approximately 7 million LGBT older people in the United States'   Read Reviews
This training describes the required elements for responding to the emerging needs of long term care communities to provide sensitive and respectful services to LGBT elders. The training reviews definitions related to sexual orientation and gender identity challenges experienced by LGBT older adults, and strategies for communication and policies that honor residents' rights. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT and PTA.

OASIS E: New Items
Presented by Cindy Krafft, PT, MS, HCS-O
Recorded Webinar


Cindy Krafft, PT, MS, HCS-O
Course: #4612Level: Intermediate2 Hours
  'helps to hear that the OASIS data set is a "moving target" based on interpretation and Q&A guidance, and can change over time'   Read Reviews
The course will focus on the items that are unique to the OASIS E data collection process. Official guidance sources will be explored to ensure the accuracy of the information.

Tele-Rehabilitation: Demystifying the Use of Technology to Deliver Physical Therapy
Presented by Donald Hayes, PT, GTC
Recorded Webinar


Donald Hayes, PT, GTC
Course: #3334Level: Intermediate2 Hours
  'Information that I was not previosusly aware of and actually did not even know about'   Read Reviews
Educate clinicians to the evidence and approaches to perform physical therapy via tele-rehabilitation. The course will cover patient care from evaluation through discharge and a variety of diagnoses. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT and PTA.

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