Recovering from surgery can be a difficult and challenging experience. It involves dealing with pain, discomfort, and a range of other physical and emotional challenges. Physical therapy can provide an effective solution to help patients get back on their feet and resume their normal activities. In this post, we will explore some case studies of patients who have undergone post-op physical therapy and how it has transformed their lives.
For the sake of privacy we have changed the names below and have left out key details. These patients have also allowed us to share the likeness of their case for educational purposes.
Case Study: Joe's knee replacement surgery
Joe was in his sixties and had recently undergone knee replacement surgery. He was experiencing pain and discomfort, and was struggling to walk or climb stairs without assistance. This had been happening off and on for years until one day after a day of yard work, the pain never went away.
He met with a doctor, who confirmed that had severe arthritis. He was scheduled for surgery in 1 month. Joe came into our clinic for pre operative therapy to help him gain back as much range of motion and strength as he could prior to surgery. During his time with us he was able to gain back over 20° of knee flexion and more than 5° of knee extension. We were also able to begin all the exercises that he would do after his surgery so he knew them well and his body could learn them prior to him having his knee replaced.
After surgery he was recommended to attend post-op physical therapy sessions. Within about 4 weeks of therapy, Joe's pain had nearly disappeared, and he was able to walk with ease, and even climb stairs. After about 3 months he was back on the golf course. This was the first time that he had golfed without pain in nearly 7 years.
Knee replacement is a long recovery but even though you won't be back to 100% until about 1 year, it doesn't mean you won't feel much better than prior to surgery very soon after and also be able to resume a lot of the things that you want to.
Case Study: Ryan's ACL tear as a Youth Athlete
Ryan, a promising young soccer player, suffered an ACL tear during a game. The injury left him devastated and worried about his future in sports. After undergoing surgery to repair his ACL, Ryan began his post-op physical therapy journey. His physical therapist designed a comprehensive rehabilitation program that focused on strengthening the muscles around his knee, improving his balance, and gradually reintroducing him to sports-specific movements. He worked extremely hard in clinic and was dedicated to showing up 2x a week fir the first 8 weeks. At 8 weeks we tested his quad strength with our dynamometer and were happily surprised when he surpassed our expectation of 75% symmetry of the quad by hitting 86% symmetry!
In the ACL reconstruction world, this symmetry is elite at the 8 week mark. Passing this test and a few others, he was allowed to return to a gradual return to run program at 10-12 weeks. Ryan continued to stay motivated and consistent and was able to move through our protocol with ease. At each measurement and return to sport test he was able to surpass expectations.
Through consistent therapy sessions and hard work, Ryan regained his confidence, stability, and agility. Within a year, he was back on the soccer field, competing at a high level and pursuing his dreams.
Now, things don't always go so easy like they did for Ryan and that's okay. Our therapists are experts in adapting to real time situations to modify protocols to help our patients catch back up to meet their goals on time.
Case Study: Sarah's hip replacement surgery
Sarah had to go through a full hip replacement surgery at a relatively young age of 40. She was scared of losing her mobility and not being able to engage in daily activities. Fortunately, her surgeon recommended that she undergo post-op physical therapy, and Sarah was amazed by the difference it made.
Her physical therapist worked on her range of motion, strength training and helped her regain her balance. Sarah had some ups and downs during her rehab. She did great with improving strength but struggled to regain normal walking patterns and to increase strength.
Her therapist focused closely on programming a steady ramp up of resistance training of the hip, core, and knee in order to allow her to return to normal walking mechanics. With some extra effort and help from her physical therapist she was able to overcome these obstacles and get back to normal activity. Today, Sarah is an advocate of post-op physical therapy and shares her experience with everyone she meets.
Case Study: Emma's Rotator Cuff Tear as a Tennis Player
Emma, an avid tennis player, experienced a rotator cuff tear due to repetitive overhead motions during practice. The pain started gradually at first and then one day became much sharper after a long day of practicing serves.
The injury significantly impacted her ability to serve, hit powerful shots, and enjoy the game she loved. She had an ultrasound that revealed a partial thickness tear of the 2 of the rotator cuff muscles. Emma underwent rotator cuff repair surgery and embarked on a rigorous post-op physical therapy program.
Her physical therapist focused on strengthening the muscles around her shoulder joint, improving her flexibility, and gradually reintroducing her to tennis-specific movements. After her shoulder range of motion and strength had returned her physical therapist guided her through a phased approach to tennis which included exactly how many shots of each type to hit each day and when to rest. Through this dialed approach she was able to get back to 100% without any setbacks. After many months, she was back on the court, serving with power and precision, and competing in tournaments once again.
Post-op physical therapy is an essential step in the recovery journey for many patients. These case studies highlight the importance of having a skilled and experienced physical therapist who can work with patients to help them get back to their daily activities. Whether it involves knee replacement surgery, hip replacement surgery, spinal fusion surgery, or even breast cancer reconstruction surgery, post-op physical therapy can be the key to a full recovery. The benefits of physical therapy are endless, and with the right guidance, you can also get back on your feet and start living a better life.