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Importance of Physical Therapy After Surgery

By Daniel Casciato

Physical therapy (PT) is a critical component to your recovery following injury or surgery. It can help you heal faster, improve your flexibility, and minimize any scar tissue development.

PT can also help you achieve and regain optimal physical functioning, according to John Evans, DPT, Director of Rehabilitation at physician-owned Advanced Surgical Hospital.

“If you had a total joint replacement, the surgery has corrected the arthritic condition of the joint,” he says. “PT will now restore your mobility, strength, balance, coordination, and gait mechanics. PT also helps to reduce and resolve your pain. Everything we do in a therapy session is designed to restore optimal function so that you can get back to doing what you want to do and improve your quality of life.”

If PT is not rendered, over time you may lose flexibility, range of motion, strength, or stabilization of the joint that was surgically repaired. Without PT after joint surgery, you may develop excessive scar tissue formation that could prevent normal motion of the joint, adds Evans.

Your doctor will have to write a script and refer you for physical therapy. During your initial examination and evaluation, the therapist will review your past medical history and perform physical assessments that include measurements of strength, range of motion, balance, coordination, and motor functioning. After comprehensive testing has been done, the therapist will develop and initiate a treatment program specifically designed for you.

“You and the therapist will discuss your goals and you will then work together to achieve those goals,” says Evans.

You are informed at the onset of therapy that everything you do in therapy is designed to help you fully recover from your injury, surgery, or functional deficits. A cookie-cutter approach is not used because each patient is different regarding health, fitness level, and pain levels.

“The treatment plan designed by the therapist is geared towards you specifically and adjustments are made as necessary so that every part of treatment is focused on achieving the patient’s goals,” says Evans.

After your initial physical therapy evaluation, the therapist will write up a report and submit the report to the physician. Patients are normally seen by the physician every four weeks initially. At that time, the therapist will submit a progress report detailing your treatment plan, progress made in therapy, and current functional status.

Patients who have had total joint surgery need to understand that they will get better and each session of PT will get them closer to their goals and closer to a full recovery. Progress can be slow at times with pain being the main contributing factor to a slower recovery than what you may have expected.

“As pain and swelling subside, you will be able to make quicker gains,” says Evans.

Many patients are very surprised at how much better they feel and how much more they are able to do after participating in physical therapy. Some patients have the notion that PT is going to cause them more pain because of the exercises they need to do to regain their mobility, strength, and function.

“Although pain is, and can be, a limiting factor to their progress, many patients are surprised at how much better they actually feel by getting their bodies into motion,” says Evans.

Depending on your injury, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may be required before undergoing PT. This is a safe non-invasive imaging tool that enables your health care practitioner to detect, diagnose and monitor the treatment of a variety of ailments.

“MRI of the brain and neck can be used to detect brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, developmental anomalies, multiple sclerosis, stroke, dementia, infection and causes of headaches,” says David Liberatore RT(R) CT MR, Manager of Radiology for Advanced Surgical Hospital.

Imaging is also useful to diagnose sports injuries, tendon, ligament and bone injuries, tumors, infections and joint damage due to injury or aging. MRI uses powerful magnets to produce a magnet field that forces the protons in the body to align with the magnetic field, notes Liberatore.

During the MRI testing, the patient is placed inside a large machine/scanner that has a long tunnel through the center from one end to the other. The patient is instructed to remain very still during the exam so to not blur the images. Intravenous contrast may be given to enhance tissues in the body.

For more information, visit ashospital.net.

Advanced Surgical Hospital complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. (TTY: 711)

Advanced Surgical Hospital cumple con las leyes federales de derechos civiles aplicables y no discrimina por motivos de raza, color, nacionalidad, edad, discapacidad o sexo. (TTY: 711)

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-888-808-9008 ID 67115549 (TTY: 711)

Advanced Surgical Hospital 遵守適用的聯邦民權法律規定,不因種族、膚色、民族血統、年齡、殘障或性別而歧視任何人。注意:如果您使用繁體中文,您可以免費獲得語言援助服務。請致電1-888-808-9008 ID 67115549 (TTY: 711)

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