Jennifer Helsing, PT, DPT
Fractures: rehabilitation following removal of a cast
After you fracture a bone, a physical therapist may visit you in the hospital. If you break your leg or ankle, a physical therapist may instruct you in how to walk with an assistive device, like crutches. This includes how to use the device to walk up and down stairs or to get into and out of a car. Your doctor may have specific weight-bearing restrictions that you must follow. Your physical therapist can help you maintain these restrictions to ensure that you do not put too much stress on the healing bone.
After cast removal, a referral to outpatient physical therapy is often made to help restore normal function. The immobilized body part is generally stiff and difficult to move depending on the length of immobilization. Typically, anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks of immobilization (or as determined by your orthopedic physician) is required for adequate healing of a bone fracture. During this time, muscle tissue and other connective tissues affected by the immobilization often undergo changes. These tissues not only weaken due to lack of normal use, but they can also shrink, therefore causing normal motion to be limited. Early physical therapy is important to encourage full recovery, prevent re-injury and chronic issues associated with immobilization by the cast. With daily use, your motion is usually regained, however, a physical therapist can help you progress faster and more safely through exercise, stretching, and other therapeutic activities. The physical therapist helps you regain normal use of the extremity, pushes for a speedier recovery, and decreases the risk of injury to the weakened tissue. Physical therapy will also work to retrain balance, improve walking, and assist in safe and efficient return to activity.
For the active or athletic population, this physical therapy includes higher-level exercises such as plyometric (vigorous drills), proprioceptive (receiving stimuli with the muscles and tendons), and sport specific training. These activities ensure a safe return to your desired activity level.
Physical therapy at All Children’s is provided with one on one care tailored to the active teenager. An emphasis is placed on positive attitude, hard work, along with engaging activities for teen athletes. ACH Sports Rehab helps get athletes back in the game!