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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
  'Gives good insight on how to approach caregivers and problem solving!'   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
  'I could use all of these interventions in my current practice'   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
  'Excellent research backed information'   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.

Alzheimer's and Other Dementias: Overview for Healthcare Professionals
Presented by Megan L. Malone, MA, CCC-SLP
Recorded Webinar


Megan L. Malone, MA, CCC-SLP
Course: #4864Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'simplified, to the point and remained on topic with minimal extended/prolonged examples'   Read Reviews
An overview for healthcare professionals about Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders is provided in this course. Characteristics of the dementias, such as symptoms, progression, and how they are diagnosed, are described. Care planning strategies for improving communication with patients and families, understanding and managing behavioral challenges, and promoting independence are also discussed.

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


Cindy Krafft, PT, MS, HCS-O
Course: #4612Level: Intermediate2 Hours
  'Great course'   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.

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