Exercise in Geriatric Rehabilitation

Nicole Dawson, PT, PhD, GCS

Online Course

Includes all course content in digital format

Prerequisites Required
2 hours - Provided by Summit Professional Education



The latest practice analysis identifies over 53% of rehabilitation patients are over the age of 65 years. Many of these older adults have functional limitations due to the fact that older adults are generally less physically active than their younger counterparts or due to difficulties returning to normal function following illness or injury. Exercise is a non- pharmacological intervention that can have beneficial effects on multiple domains of function. However, the application of exercise by health care professionals is often under-dosed leading to minimal changes in this patient population. Older adults can pose unique challenges for clinicians due to their sedentary lifestyle and potential for complex medical history.

Rehabilitation professionals are experts in movement science and should play an integral role in prescription of appropriate physical activity to ensure maximal levels of success with older adults, so we need to do better for this new majority of patients. This course will provide you with a better understanding of primary aging processes that may affect an older adult's functional status. An evidence-based approach for exercise prescription will be discussed to ensure that exercise science principles are used during plan of care development.


  • Practical application of exercise prescription in older adults that you can use the next day
  • Effective, evidence-based interventions to ensure positive outcomes in older adults

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the primary aging processes that can affect an older adult's functional status.
  2. Integrate the exercise science principles during exercise prescription.
  3. Assess motivators and barriers that may affect participation in physical activity and exercise.
  4. Describe considerations in individuals with comorbidities during treatment using exercise.

Course Content

Exercise in Geriatric Rehabilitation
SCORM Package
Next Steps
  1. Primary Aging Processes and Function
  2. Exercise Prescription in Older Adults
    • Principle of exercise science
    • Recommendations by exercise mode
    • Motivators and barriers
  3. Considerations of Special Populations
    • Medical comorbidities
    • Patients with dementia
    • Frailty
    • Questions/Discussion
Nicole Dawson, PT, PhD, GCS is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Physical Therapy at the University of Central Florida and Co-Director of the Innovative Mobility Innovative (IMOVET) Lab. She graduated from Ohio University with a Master's degree in Physical Therapy in 2002. Dr. Dawson is a Board Certified Geriatric Physical Therapist with over 17 years of clinical experience along with a PhD in Adult Development & Aging Psychology from Cleveland State University. She has been recognized for excellence in teaching by the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy through receipt of the Distinguished Educator Award and the American Physical Therapy Association being awarded the Margaret L. Moore Outstanding New Academic Faculty Award. Her current area of research includes developing non-pharmacological interventions to improve functional and psychosocial outcomes in older adults with chronic disease including those with dementia, identifying predictors of falls and gait disorders in older adults, as well as gaining a better understanding of the disability experience. Dr. Dawson has been published in peer-reviewed journals including The Gerontologist and the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy. She has presented at numerous international and national conferences on the subject of geriatric rehabilitation. She is passionate about bettering the treatment and care of older adults and is dedicated to assisting students and clinicians in gaining skills and knowledge to better help their patients maximize their potential.


FINANCIAL: Nicole Dawson is compensated by Summit as an instructor.

NONFINANCIAL: Nicole Dawson has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals on the topic of Geriatric Physical Therapy.

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