Gary Larioza is a physical therapist at On Lok PACE with over 15 years of experience. We asked him some questions about his work.

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy helps accelerate healing through exercise, physical activities, treatments such as heat and cold packs, and functional training. Physical therapy is used both to restore function after surgery or an injury and to prevent future injury.

Physical therapists also assess a person’s ability to live independently at home, which is our goal at On Lok PACE.

Why does On Lok PACE include physical therapy?

Physical therapy can help reduce chronic pain and the risk of falls and injury, and it helps seniors stay physically fit. We use it to improve balance, restore range of motion, and increase strength. Seniors can supplement the work they do at the center with a home program that makes use of resistance bands, weights, and even their own cane. Your physical therapist can show you easy movements that can be done while standing, sitting, or lying down.

How can caregivers help?

One of the best things you can do is to implement a home exercise program. For example, there are many easy and beneficial hand exercises that help loosen stiff joints and relieve pain. There are safe exercises that can be done even by seniors who use walkers and wheelchairs or can’t leave their bed. Ask your primary care provider.

What do you like best about your job?

I really enjoy working with older adults because they have a lot of life lessons to teach from their experiences and struggles. Physical therapy can improve their quality of life and support their independence. I like to show them that physical therapy is much more than exercises—it’s a way of life and a way to embrace life. Source: Gary Larioza, Physical Therapist