Orthopedic Rehabilitation: What The Process Could Look Like

Rehab facilities can take a variety of patients. The primary goal at a rehab facility is to help the patient’s get stronger and achieve their highest level of functionality.

Rehab facilities often take patients with conditions such as cardiology complications, strokes, wounds, and many other different conditions that has caused a patient to experience increased weakness. Rehab facilities also see a large population of orthopedic patients. Estimated rehabilitation times can be different for patients depending on their diagnoses along with how their body heals. It is very normal for patients to have questions about their rehab and please don’t hesitate to ask your care team. Due to the higher predictability of orthopedic patients, this article is designed to walk you through a brief synopsis of what the rehab process could look like for orthopedic rehabilitation.

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding total joint replacement surgery is the estimated time for healing.  To answer this question, we need to separate the various total joint surgeries as they all have different healing and recovery times based on the medical research available and the surgeons’ specific protocols.

For total hip joint replacements, you should expect a quick recovery being able to resume normal walking within days.  Physical therapy treatments for this surgery focus on walking, balance, coordination, and general strength of the lower body and is generally completed within one month.

Total shoulder joint replacement surgery has a more involved recovery time due to the shoulder joint being highly mobile.  You should expect some time in a sling following surgery according to your surgeon’s protocol.  Once you are cleared from the sling, physical and occupational therapies include gentle range of motion restoration, coordination training of the shoulder muscles, and performance of activities of daily living.  Therapy should be completed within 1-2 months.

Total knee joint replacement surgery is the most rehabilitation intensive surgery of the total joints primarily due to scar tissue build up.  Following surgery, you should expect heavy emphasis on walking and improving the range of motion of the knee joint.  The total estimated time for full rehabilitation for a total knee is 3-4months in order to regain a full range of motion and to have sufficient leg strength.

Be sure to ask your surgeon for estimations of recovery for your specific case as well as ideas related to the type and duration of therapy needed to get the most out of your new joint.

Your orthopedic surgeon will be able to educate you on their specific preferences for rehabilitation. If you are thinking about rehabilitation for another condition, your care team will be able to help answer your questions along the way.


Editor’s Note: This article is written by Mark Sanders, DOR, PT, DPT and Amanda Gibson, Clinical Liaison.  Amanda may be reached at 970-985-7930 or by email at: AGibson@centeratforesight.com