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The best physical therapy equipment to use at home

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Which physical therapy equipment to use at home is best?

Depending on your physical therapy program, your doctor or physical therapist may encourage at-home exercises. If you’d like to practice similar exercises to the ones you perform in a clinical setting, consider buying physical therapy equipment to use at home.

Physical therapy equipment doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive to be effective. There are several affordable options, including yoga mats, weighted exercise balls and resistance bands. Exercise balls are a top choice that’s a versatile device that lends itself to dozens of upper- and lower-body exercises.


What to know before you buy physical therapy equipment to use at home

Why do people buy physical therapy equipment to use at home?

Physical therapy plays a pivotal role in rehabilitation because it may help individuals regain strength, mobility, coordination and balance. According to MedlinePlus, many people begin their physical therapy journeys in clinical settings, such as doctors’ offices or rehabilitation centers, and eventually, they transition to at-home therapy.


At-home therapy is often done on “off” days from in-office sessions or is continued after individuals complete their physical therapy programs in rehabilitation centers. Some individuals may need to perform physical therapy exercises for a few weeks after discharge, whereas others may need to incorporate it into their daily lives long-term so they don’t regress in recovery.


Popular types of physical therapy equipment for home use

Because few people have the room to accommodate large machines or devices, it’s common to invest in smaller, pared-down versions of physical therapy equipment.

  • Yoga mats are essential investments because they’re often for basic, floor-based stretching and mobility exercises.

  • Free weight sets are ideal for developing upper body strength through repetition exercises, such as bicep curls.

  • Resistance bands, often used in rehabilitation centers, are used for strength-building exercises.

  • Exercise balls assist in modifications of certain exercises, like planks or lifting.

  • Hand grip strengtheners, such as silicone stress eggs or spring-loaded grip trainers, are often used to build dexterity.


Talk to your doctor

Before you begin using physical therapy equipment at home, speak to your doctor or physical therapist to make sure you are approved to perform exercises outside of a clinical setting. Additionally, they may provide you with new exercises that are conducive to home practice with specific equipment.


What to look for in quality physical therapy equipment to use at home

Material

Most physical therapy equipment is made with silicone, rubber, latex, PVC and high-density plastic. These materials are durable and generally have high tensile strength, which means they can withstand a high level of tension without breaking. More complex physical therapy equipment, including spring-operated devices like hand grips strengthened, usually have steel components.


Progressive difficulty

As you progress in your physical therapy journey, your care team may introduce exercises with higher levels of difficulty. When you transition to an at-home program, you may wish to adjust difficulty levels as needed.

With some equipment, individuals can modify exercises to make them more challenging, such as doing more repetitions with free weights. Other equipment have built-in difficulty levels, such as step platforms whose heights can be adjusted by adding or removing risers.


Portability

Portability is an important consideration for many individuals who do physical therapy at home. Many types of equipment are compact and easy to store when it’s not in use, such as yoga mats or foam rollers. Other types of equipment are travel-friendly. Resistance bands, for example, can be rolled up and tucked inside most handbags and carry-ons.


How much you can expect to spend on physical therapy equipment to use at home

Smaller or simpler pieces of at-home physical therapy equipment, like resistance bands and yoga mats, cost $15 and below. More involved equipment, like free weight sets, may run between $20-$50. If you’d like to invest in facility-grade equipment, like pedal machines, be prepared to spend $75-$300.


Physical therapy equipment to use at home FAQ

Will my insurance cover physical therapy equipment to use at home?

A. It depends. You’ll need to contact your insurance plan regarding coverage, benefits and eligibility for a definitive answer. Some insurance plans may consider certain equipment is eligible for coverage under FSA or HSA benefits, whereas others won’t cover it at all.

How do I clean physical therapy equipment?

A. Most types of physical therapy equipment can be wiped down with everyday surface cleaners or disinfectant wipes. Some people prefer using nontoxic cleaners that are non-irritating to skin.


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