Physical Therapy before surgery?

A very commonly asked question asked by patients planning on having surgery is, “Why would I do Physical Therapy before surgery?”

According to Chau “Joe” Phan (Director of Physical Therapy at MVP Sports Center & Physical Therapy), the stronger and more mobile you are before surgery, the shorter the rehabilitation time.  Simply being sedentary and waiting for your surgery can potentially hurt you in the long run. Chau points out that there are several variables that play into a person’s overall recovery time.  One of those variables is referred to as, “prior level of function (PLOF)”.  Unlike a person’s age, gender, co-morbidities (a concurrent problem such as diabetes) PLOF is something we can actually control and improve.

Lets take for example someone who is going to have ACL reconstruction for a torn ACL.  Weakness and atrophy of the entire injured lower extremity set in from the time of the injury and continue to worsen until rehab begins.  The rate of muscle decline significantly worsens following the surgery.  Many times after ACL reconstruction, patients can’t even contract their thigh muscle, thus requiring them to use a knee immobilizer and crutches to walk.  Patients who go through a “Pre-hab” program not only start their post-surgical rehab stronger and more mobile, they are much less anxious about what the rehab process will look and feel like since they have already been exposed to it. Pre-hab only lasts a few weeks but will undoubted pay off in the long run.

By Brittany Fecteau, BS,  PT Aide