Postsurgical Rehabilitation

What Is the Importance of Rehab After Surgery?

Are you scheduled to have a surgical procedure soon? Among the many things you need to do to prepare is to talk to your doctor about scheduling your post-surgical rehabilitation.

What Is the Importance of Rehab After Surgery?

No matter what type of surgery you’re recovering from—from joint replacements to a total hip replacement—undergoing rehab after surgery with a physical therapist is essential to maximize your physical potential and accelerate your recovery.

No matter how minimally invasive a surgical procedure is, it still causes trauma to your body. While your body is healing, you’ll likely experience challenges like pain, inflammation, and swelling. You may also have newfound difficulty with daily tasks like dressing, standing, and walking. You may even have specific instructions from your surgeon on things to do or things not to do in order to protect your healing of the surgical site and prevent complications.

For example, if you’ve had surgery to correct a broken bone in your leg, your doctor may tell you to be “non-weight bearing” or “partial weight bearing” for several weeks. If you’ve had a hip replacement, your doctor may require you to follow “posterior hip precautions.” If you’ve undergone surgical repair of a torn rotator cuff, your doctor may want you to restrict movement at your shoulder.

What do these precautions and restrictions mean? How can you learn to function in your daily life while complying with such restrictions? How might these restrictions affect your body (e.g., weakening of muscles due to disuse), and how can you minimize, prevent, or reverse these effects?

These are important questions and further show why working with a Preferred Rehabilitation physical therapist for rehab after surgery is so critical.

Above all, post-surgical rehabilitation is an evidence-based, drug-free, and non-invasive way to regain your strength, balance, flexibility, and function following any type of surgery. Research even shows that physical therapy can reduce the amount of pain medication a person needs to use.

What to Expect From Post-Surgical Rehabilitation With a Physical Therapist

Our Physical therapists are experts in the human body who diagnose and treat a wide number of conditions. In post-surgical rehabilitation, physical therapists are key team members who can implement plans of care with the goal to:

  • Reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation
  • Accelerate wound healing and minimize scarring
  • Improve circulation, range of motion, and strength
  • Restore your functional mobility (your ability to move around in your environment and participate in activities, such as climbing stairs, and getting in and out of a car)

Depending on your unique needs, our physical therapist may also help you adapt to new changes in your body or learn how to use certain tools and adaptive equipment (such as crutches, walkers, or braces).

At your first post-surgical evaluation, our physical therapist will review your medical history and any relevant documentation from your surgeon. He or she will examine your surgical site, as well as other aspects of your health including strength, balance, blood pressure, heart rate, pain level, range of motion, and cognition. Finally, you and your physical therapist will go over your goals.

Based on all this information, our physical therapist will design and implement a customized plan of care and employ a variety of exercises and techniques and modalities to help you achieve your goals:

  • Manual therapy such as muscle energy technique (MET), joint mobilizations, and massage
  • Therapeutic exercises
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Gait and balance training
  • Neuromuscular re-education
  • Ice and heat
  • Patient education

Your physical therapist will periodically make reports on your progress and adjust your plan of care as necessary to ensure you’re progressing well. When your rehabilitation program is complete, your therapist will write a summary of your care and give you instructions and recommendations about things which will help you continue to progress (e.g., nutrition, stress management, sleep, exercise program, etc.).

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