What Is the Importance of Rehab After Surgery?
No matter what type of surgery you’re recovering from, undergoing rehab after surgery with a physical therapist is essential to maximize your physical potential, accelerate your recovery, and help you get the most out of the highly skilled interventions provided by your surgical team.
Surgery will cause trauma to your body and 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 surgical site and prevent complications.
Overall, 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, a 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, incentive spirometers, or braces).
At your first post-surgical evaluation, your 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, your physical therapist will design and implement a customized plan of care and employ a variety of exercises and techniques 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.).