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How Long Does a Physical Therapy Program Take?

Following an injury, a surgery or a prolonged illness, it can take a while to recover. For older adults, this process can be even longer and more involved. There is a great mental and emotional toll on the senior, as well as on their family and friends, when the healing journey is a long one. It is important to have the right information about recovery, the support to get through the rehabilitation process and the tools to stay on track. For seniors living on their own, family and caregivers often play a crucial role during recovery following a major health event. For seniors who either live in a senior community or who are referred to a rehabilitation community like Rosewood Nursing & Rehabilitation, there is a team of professionals on hand to help at every stage of recovery. In any situation, it is helpful for seniors and their loved ones to understand what the healing process will entail and how long it will take.

What Is the Purpose of Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is often recommended as part of a rehabilitation and recovery journey for older adults. There are a variety of benefits that come with doing physical therapy, also known as PT. The focus on movement and strength building can help:

  • Decrease discomfort
  • Enhance function
  • Increase range of motion
  • Improve posture
  • Support balance

The purpose of physical therapy is to regain function and return to activity. However, physical therapy for seniors also offers the opportunity to build strength in new ways, to learn different ways to move and stay active, and to provide greater independence through increased safety and balance. To accomplish the goals set for recovery, physical therapy programs focus on the following five things:

  1. Preventing scar tissue buildup. While it is common for scar tissue to develop after surgery or following an injury, it is important to avoid the buildup of that tissue; too much scar tissue can cause tightness or discomfort. To avoid this type of buildup, physical therapists will use stretching and other manual techniques.
  2. Fixing defective movement patterns. Physical therapy for seniors will help to resolve some underlying pain-related symptoms due to injury or chronic pain. Additionally, PT can help to make corrections that will reduce the risk of ongoing issues.
  3. Building strength. Exercises to build strength can help to support musculature, which minimizes pressure on the joints and can enhance healing.
  4. Stretching tight joints and muscles. To maintain range of motion and flexibility, stretching is very important. 
  5. Improving outcomes. By treating scar tissue, resilience, discomfort, range of motion and more, physical therapy for seniors helps to optimize outcomes after injury, surgery and illness.

How Long Does Physical Therapy Take?

So, how long does physical therapy take to help with recovery? Physical therapy for seniors can be a lengthy process, and the journey is different for each person. Here are some factors that can impact the healing process:

  • The extent of the injury or seriousness of the illness. Major injuries and long-term illnesses generally require a longer time in PT to see results.
  • The level of effort put forth by the senior. The harder you work, the better results you will see!
  • The body part affected. Some areas of the body heal faster than others.
  • The healing rate of the senior. Each person heals at a different rate, no matter what their age.

Given these factors, it is important for seniors going through physical therapy not to get discouraged! The work will pay off! And while healing times will vary from person to person, there are standard time frames for seeing results, depending on the part of the body that needs help. Here is a quick guide for basic injuries:

  • Muscle injuries: 2 to 4 weeks of physical therapy
  • Tendon injuries: 4 to 6 weeks of physical therapy
  • Bone injuries: 6 to 8 weeks of physical therapy
  • Ligament injuries: 10 to 12 weeks of physical therapy
  • Cartilage injuries: 12 weeks or more of physical therapy

About Rosewood Nursing & Rehabilitation

Rosewood Nursing & Rehabilitation offers rehabilitation services, skilled nursing and respite stays. We work closely with our residents’ specialty doctors, physicians, families and other care professionals to create a personalized care plan that meets the resident’s health goals and needs. Our on-site physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy programs are available to help support the healing journey of each resident.

Interested in learning more about Rosewood? Contact us today to ask questions or to schedule a tour!