The Importance of The Home Exercise Program

By Debbie Rockett, PT

The Importance Of The Home Exercise Program

Article By: Debbie Rockett, PT

The definition of Physical Therapy is the treatment of physical dysfunction or injury by the use of therapeutic exercise, and by the application of modalities intended to restore or facilitate normal function or development.

As orthopedic therapists, we address both surgical and non-surgical presentations. Patients present with problems including pain, stiffness, weakness and loss of joint motion that will prevent or restrict normal function.

Visits to the therapist may be only a few or extend for several weeks depending on the problem in question. Success in achieving patient-desired goals is in part dependent on what you do or not do outside the Physical Therapy department. One of the most important things a patient can do is the home exercise program.

Why is it important to do the Home exercise program?

Patients spend typically one-to-two hours in physical therapy, anywhere from one-to-three times a week. While this time is important, it is only part of the time that should be spent addressing the problem. Successful outcomes depend on regular exercises and self management to achieve goals in a timely manner.

How do exercises address different problems

Joint swelling– Whether due to surgery, injury or even without specific cause, swelling in and around a joint quickly alters muscle function and balance in a short space of time. Gentle exercises provided by the therapist help to maintain and restore muscle function, reduce swelling and prevent further problems.

Decreased flexibility – Poorly addressed by so many people, stretching is often ignored or given minimal attention time. Good flexibility assists with correct joint motion and overall function.

Range of motion – If you have just had surgery or lack joint motion for other reasons, it is important to regain motion in order for the joint to function corrected.

Muscle weakness – Muscle weakness leads to poor posture and poor support of a joint. If joint support is compromised, joint damage can occur more easily. Strengthening takes time and effort on the part of the patient. The home program is vital in contributing to this goal.

Pain – Pain is one of the biggest subjective complaints from patients that bring them to the Physical Therapy department. Many factors that contribute to pain include those discussed thus far. Other factors used to address pain include medications and modalities used in the department and a percentage of the time resting the joint when appropriate. Once pain management is under control, exercise will always be an important factor to then rehabilitate the body part in question.

In summary, this article is to address the importance of your participation in your home exercise program and the successful outcome of your treatment. Your therapist is able to provide you with appropriate exercises you need and also answer any questions you may have.

Image of pectoral stretch

Image of pectoral stretch


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