For many patients, physical therapy is key to a healthy recovery from illness or injury. A good physical therapy program includes exercises specifically tailored to help you recover from your condition. Physical therapy helps you regain strength and mobility with a focus on getting you back to your regular activities preventing re-injury.
Many patients wonder how long their physical therapy program will last. The answer depends on your condition – and on your willingness to work hard. Inpatient physical therapy often lasts around a month, but for many patients, it’s just a first step to getting back into the swing of their lives.
Who Needs Physical Therapy?
Doctors recommend physical therapy for patients with a range of conditions. Here are some of the most common:
- Rehabilitation following a heart attack or cardiac surgery
- Rehabilitation following a stroke
- Rehabilitation after surgery – in particular joint replacement surgery including hip and knee replacement
- Recovering from an injury – in the case of seniors, injuries from falls are especially common
What Does Physical Therapy Involve?
When recovering from a stroke or heart attack, physical therapy often focuses on strengthening muscles for walking or standing. For weak or frail patients, the ZeroG Gait And Balance training system provides body weight support and fall protection during the early phases of physical therapy – literally helping patients get back on their feet. In the case of a knee or hip replacement, therapists focus on gait training and a series of exercise designed to strengthen the leg muscles. The program can include gentle cycling, range of motion exercises designed to move the joint in different directions and exercises to strengthen the core muscles to provide support and balance for the legs.
What is the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Physical Therapy?
For older patients who experience an illness or injury, doctors often recommend inpatient physical therapy. Inpatient therapy generally means a short-term stay at a rehab facility, offering daily access to skilled therapists. The big advantage of inpatient physical therapy is that it allows patients to focus on their recovery in a supervised setting, away from the distractions and challenges of everyday life. At a rehab center, patients have access to physical therapy and other services (including occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and counseling) in an atmosphere that is designed specifically to promote healing.
Outpatient physical therapy offers access to the same kind of highly trained physical therapists but involves making appointments and usually involves traveling to a physical therapy facility on a regular basis. Outpatient therapy works best for injuries where other rehab options like occupational therapy and skilled nursing care are not needed and for more functional patients who prefer to remain with family during recovery. It’s also often used for patients who need follow-up care after inpatient physical therapy.
How Long Will Recovery Take?
The length of time it takes to recover under a physical therapy program depends on the patient, but generally, inpatient therapy means a faster recovery because of the round the clock focus on healing. Most patients stay in the inpatient physical therapy program at Evergreen Health and Rehab for less than 30 days, but longer-term recovery will depend on a number of factors, including the patient’s motivation and willingness to commit to a follow-up exercise program.
How Do I Stay Healthy After Physical Therapy?
The goal of physical therapy is to get you functioning normally and able to return to your normal activities. But achieving this goal depends in part on your commitment and motivation. Following an inpatient physical therapy program, you may need to transition to outpatient physical therapy. In other cases, your therapist will create a home exercise program to help you continue to reach your goals. Sticking to an at-home regimen is key to full recovery, and there are now a number of useful smartphone apps to help patients stay focused and on task. Your regimen may include walking, stretching and other movements recommended by your therapist. If you have pain or re-injure yourself, contact your rehab center – you may need to return to physical therapy.
Making The Most Of Physical Therapy: Choosing The Right Partner
Whether inpatient or outpatient therapy – or a combination of both – is required, doctors and patients agree that a well-trained, caring team is key to a successful physical therapy program. Support from your therapists, along with your own motivation, will determine your success and the length of time it takes to get back to daily activities. Evergreen Health and Rehab offers one of the most comprehensive inpatient physical therapy programs in the region and welcomes patients and families to connect with us to discuss the best approach to a full and healthy recovery.