Healthcare Insider Blog

The important role of physical therapy during post-surgical recovery

  • Healthcare Alvernia

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between the years 2000 and 2010, total knee replacement surgery was one of the five most frequent of all inpatient procedures, and still continues to be a prevalent procedure today — the number of surgeries more than doubling over the past sixteen years.

In a previous Healthcare Insider blog we discussed the important role DPTs play in educating patients prior to surgery on what they should expect post-surgically and throughout the recovery process.

In this blog we’ll turn our focus to the role physical therapy plays in preventing or delaying joint replacement surgery, when possible, and the vital role of physical therapy post-surgically.

A study from Virginia Commonwealth University surveyed 205 participants who had received a Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA). The results revealed that one-third of these patients did not have arthritis that was advanced enough to warrant surgery, therefore, bringing into question the medical necessity of this procedure.

For those patients who have undergone a TKA or other joint replacement surgery, seeing a physical therapist during the post-operation recovery process is crucial. Yet, according to an article by, only 26 percent of TKA patients are referred to outpatient rehabilitation following surgery.

According to the article, in the year following post-op TKA patients walk 18 percent slower, climb stairs 51 percent slower and have quadriceps deficits of nearly 40 percent, compared to their same-age, non-TKA counterparts. Nearly a quarter of TKA patients also experience a fall in the year following surgery. These unsettling results further highlight the important role of physical therapy in the post-operative management of these conditions.

DPT students at Alvernia prepare to aid patients in post-surgery rehabilitation and provide them with the strength to help prevent incidents such as these by taking courses like DPT 708: Management of Medical/Surgical Conditions, Diagnostics, and Pharmacotherapeutics, where they are introduced to common medical and surgical conditions that may be encountered within the physical therapy setting. They will also learn medical and surgical management of selected conditions, the impact of these procedures on physical therapy, and a review of proper post-surgical protocols and precautions. Throughout the program, local surgeons will serve as adjunct instructors as they share their expertise with the DPT students.

Effective November 12, 2014, Alvernia University has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314; phone: 703-706-3245; email: Candidacy is not an accreditation status nor does it assure eventual accreditation. Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates the program is progressing toward accreditation.

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