Preoperative Physical Therapy

| Dr. Eva Norman

Preoperative Physical Therapy Makes a Difference

pre-operative physical therapy

Preoperative physical therapy provides more benefits than originally thought. According to a recent study from the Journal of Bone& Joint Surgery statistics confirm the positive effects of preoperative PT.

What is “post-acute care?”

Post-acute care can include a number of services, such as home health, skilled nursing facility, long-term-care hospital, outpatient facility, and inpatient rehabilitation facility settings. In many cases, with knee and hip surgeries, patients are prone to being placed in an aftercare facility to rehab from their surgery; especially if they don’t have the type of care needed to keep them safe at home. Offering home health services can often be a better post-acute care option for patients because they get to remain in comfortable surroundings while healing at home. It can also help to keep medical costs down.

Preoperative Physical Therapy Statistics for Knee & Hip Surgery

  • Preoperative PT was associated with a 29% reduction in post-acute care usage
  • As few as 1 to 2 preop physical therapy sessions have shown a 29% reduction in post-acute care
  • Preoperative Physical Therapy reduced overall costs, on average, by $1,215
  • The benefits of preoperative physical therapy was found to better prepare patients for post operative care by helping patients plan for their recovery ahead of time, keeping and managing their expectations after surgery more realistic and understanding, and training them for use of post operative assistive walking devices
  • Nearly 80% of patients who did not receive preoperative physical therapy required post-acute care services
  • Only 54% of patients who received preoperative PT required post-acute care services

The statistics alone seem to point to all positive factors of partaking in preoperative physical therapy. Knowing that as few as two sessions can make a difference in both recovery and financial costs for patients, leaves for little question as to the importance of preoperative physical therapy for knee and hip surgery patients.

What is Preoperative Physical Therapy?

Preoperative PT focuses on many things. Most pre-op physical therapy programs will focus on the following:

  • Strengthening – Usually focused on a particular area that you are having your operation; however, your physical therapist will look at the entire body and prescribe exercises to strengthen your core and other extremities necessary to prepare you for surgery.
  • Endurance – Making you healthier and stronger so the operation itself doesn’t take you down. Making recuperating faster & easier for your body. Your physical therapist will develop a program specific to your needs and abilities.
  • Balance – Generally any surgery will leave you feeling unsteady. Balance training may be essential to improve your safety.
  • Strengthening Your Mind – Most people associate physical therapy to being based only on the physical health and well being of the client. However, we also take the time to give you peace of mind in not only understanding what to expect after surgery but understand what you may face when recovering. Basically you can go into the surgery with the knowledge you need to recover properly and without surprises if your physical therapist, physician, and surgeon take the time to talk with you and explain their part of the puzzle. Your physical therapist is an important part of your entire surgical “team.”
  • Preparation for your Return Home – It’s important that your home is ready for you to come back to after surgery. Preparing your body is just a part of the entire picture of preoperative physical therapy. Your home may need modifications and changes that will allow you to be as independent and safe as possible after your surgery. This could be the key to determining if you will recover at home or in a healthcare surgery
  • Learning How to Use Assistive Devices – often you will need assistive devices to help you become mobile while healing. The need for certain devices may change and you should not only know how to use them but which ones may be most appropriate for you. A qualified physical therapist can help you determine if your home is also set up to accommodate for these devices. Assistive devices can include crutches, walkers, canes, etc. Each person will be different according to their particular operation and their general abilities after the operation.
  • Flexibility – If your muscles and tendons are flexible before surgery, you will have a better chance of your body being able to adjust as needed after surgery. Yoga is an excellent way to prepare both the mind and body for surgery. The combination of relaxation and soothing movements can be beneficial before and after surgery.

As you can see a physical therapist is an integral part of not only getting your body and mind ready for an upcoming operation but in making sure you remain safe and heal well after your operation. It is important to include a physical therapy regimen that will help you recover as fast and as well as possible.

Statistics prove that recovery is made faster and safer when you prepare ahead of time for your surgery. Everyone wants to recover in the comfort of their own home and it can be done with the proper caregivers and physical therapists around you. You deserve an easier, faster, and safer recovery after your surgery and we can help make it happen. Call us today if you have an upcoming surgery. Planning ahead is the key to a successful operation & recovery. Preoperative physical therapy 6 weeks to30 days before your surgery can make a world of difference in how you recover and we’re here to help.

We want you to Live Your Life READY FOR SURGERY!


Dedicated to Keeping You Healthy & Active,

Dr. Eva Norman
President & Founder
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Live Your Live Physical Therapy, LLC


[1] PT In Motion News – October 2, 2014 – Preoperative Physical Therapy Results in ‘Significant’ Reduction in Postoperative Care Use for Patients Undergoing Hip or Knee Replacement”



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