It is easy to see why physical therapy is important after surgery. Not only can it help minimize the development of scar tissue around the wound, it can also help a person heal faster and return to full mobility. It may be a little more difficult to see why you need physical therapy before surgery, but participating in it before going under the knife may be even more beneficial in the long run.
Pre-Operative Physical Therapy Reduces Recovery Time
A recent study revealed that pre-operative physical therapy reduces post-operative care by as much as 29 percent in patients who have a total knee or total hip replacement. Not only does this translate to a significant cost savings, it also means recovery time is shortened. Best part? You can see results in as few as one to two pre-operative physical therapy sessions. In cases of a total knee or total hip replacement, pre-operative physical therapy sessions tend to focus less on building muscle or improving flexibility and more on training on walkers, planning for recovery and teaching patients basic exercises they will perform after surgery.
Pre-Operative Physical Therapy Can Shorten Hospitalization
Patients who are prone to complications after surgery or who are at a high probability for transfer to an acute care rehabilitation facility can shorten the length of their stay with pre-operative physical therapy. From joint replacement to cardio-thoracic surgery, low intensity exercise, under the guidance of a physical therapist, improves circulation which in turn speeds the body’s healing response. Likewise, patients who build muscle in their core, arms, legs, and back are less likely to experience large amounts of atrophy during their recovery. Such atrophy often delays a patient’s return home even if they are healing well. Even a patient’s balance can be improved before surgery, diminishing the likelihood of falling afterward, which could result in longer hospital stays.
Pre-Operative Physical Therapy May Prevent Surgery Altogether
Even though pre-operative physical therapy meets a different objective than post-operative physical therapy, working with a therapist before surgery may yield a shocking result. You may not need surgery. While this is not the case with patients who are planning for total joint replacement, physical therapy may help soft tissue injuries heal while restoring function without going under the knife. People tend to think of PT as something you do after surgery. In reality, physical therapists are experts in restoring movement and function throughout the body, with or without surgical intervention. If you are planning to have surgery on any soft tissues in your body, give pre-operative physical therapy a try first. You may be surprised by your results.
From improving recovery times and shortening hospital stays to improving function and healing of soft tissue injuries, pre-operative physical therapy is a vital key to returning you to activity. If you are in the process of scheduling elective surgery, let us help you prepare to have the best possible outcome before and after.