Pre-Operative Physical Therapy

The benefits of physical therapy after surgery are well known. Compliance with a well-designed physical therapy routine can help reduce the development of scar tissue around the incision and help a person recover faster and get back to normal activities. Physical therapy before surgery is a little harder to understand, but research has proven that it could offer even more long-term benefits than pre-operative physical therapy.

There are numerous benefits to pre-operative physical therapy. At Avant-Garde Physical Therapy in New York City, our trained specialists will customize a therapy plan designed specifically for you and the planned operation to help you achieve the best possible post-surgical outcome.

Pre-Operative PT Can Reduce Recovery Time

2017 study performed by The American Physical Therapy Association revealed that pre-operative PT reduces post-operative care by up to 29% in patients who underwent total hip and total knee replacements. The most startling part of the study showed that you could see results in as little as two pre-operation physical therapy sessions.

Pre-operative physical therapy focuses on different goals than that of post-operative PT. Pre-operative PT sessions focus on training for equipment such as canes or walkers that might be needed after surgery, planning for recovery, and giving patients basic exercises that they will start in the immediate post-op period. Pre-operative physical therapy can also focus on helping patients improve their stamina, balance, and other issues that will benefit them in the post-op period.

How Pre-Operative PT Can Shorten the Hospital Stay

Low-intensity exercises, under the guidance of a qualified physical therapist, improves circulation, which speeds the body’s healing response. This can be incredibly beneficial to those at a higher risk of post-surgical complications.

Building muscle in the core of the body, back, arms and legs also reduce the atrophy that is far too common after major surgery. Atrophy can delay a patients return home and their ability to provide self-care, often resulting in a stent as an inpatient at a rehabilitation facility. Not only are these delays costly, but they take a toll on a patient’s physical and psychological well-being.


Falls are a known risk factor for patients after surgery. Pre-operative physical therapy that focuses on balance and fall prevention using techniques such as how to get up, use medical equipment correctly, and other exercises to promote balance reduce the risk of falls. Reducing the likelihood of falls help to get patients back home more quickly, which is better for the patient’s recovery.

Post-surgical falls predispose patients to serious post-operative complications, extended hospital stays, and a longer recuperation period. Hospitals around the globe have invested vast amounts of research into fall prevention protocols, but unfortunately, they still happen with alarming regularity. Reducing fall risks improves the overall positive outcome from all surgeries, and reduces the overall number of post-surgical complications.

Pre-Operative Physical Therapy Can Prevent the Need for Surgery

Researchers did not expect this result when studying the benefit of pre-operative physical therapy. Given that pre-operative physical therapy has an entirely different objective than post-operative or post-injury PT, it still yielded the surprising result of reducing the need for several types of surgery.

While pre-operative PT will not change the need for a total joint replacement, it can help heal soft tissue injuries and restore function without the need for surgery. If you have been told you need surgery for a soft tissue injury, it is worth trying pre-operative physical therapy first. The worst-case scenario is that you improve your balance and mobility before surgery, improving your odds of a successful outcome. The best-case scenario is that you may be able to avoid surgery altogether.

Physical Therapy Should Play a Major Role in Pre and Post-Surgical Healing

Physical therapy improves recovery times, shortens hospital stays, and reduces the risk of falls and other post-operative complications. Avant-Garde can help you through both the pre and post-operative stages of virtually any surgery.

We are still learning the many benefits of pre-surgical physical therapy, but there is ample evidence that it is well-worth the investment of time given the overall improvement in outcome. When combined with the well-known benefits of post-surgical physical therapy, you will recover faster and regain full mobility sooner, with a physical therapy plan crafted for your specific needs.

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