Physical Therapy in the Treatment of Severe Eating Disorders
While unhealthy exercise behaviors are often part of the problem, emphasizing healthy movement and strength through physical therapy can be a valuable intervention in eating disorder treatment and recovery.
Unlike other mental health disorders, eating disorders have a high prevalence of parallel medical complications that can impair mobility and challenge engagement in everyday activities. Many patients with severe eating disorders find themselves too weak to get out of bed. Some are wheelchair bound, some may experience frequent falls, while others lack the strength to engage in basic self-care and the activities of daily living. Patients may no longer do laundry because it is located in the basement and climbing stairs is challenging, and others find they can no longer lift their toddlers or pick up their kids’ toys. So often, mobility limitations and weakness are the catalysts that compel a patient to seek treatment.
Severe and extreme eating disorders take a huge toll on the mind as well as the body. Restoring mobility and self-care capabilities through rehabilitation has tremendous value not only for physical health but for mental health as well.