Southwest Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Information Headquarters

5 Factors That Affect The Speed of Rehabilitation

Posted by Dani Livsie on Jul 26, 2011 9:47:00 AM

When a patient begins rehab, one of the first questions I hear as a physical therapist is "how long is this going to take to get better?". After 23 years of practice,it has become evident that there are many variables involved. Below are 5 of the top factors that determine the speed of healing and the progress of rehab after injury or surgery.


ExercisePhysical therapy is as much about the mind as it is about the body. Some patients respond very well to physical therapy as a treatment option and some patients do not. A big part of your initial impression of PT is dependent on your physical therapist educating you on how it will help and giving you appropriate expectations and accurate perceptions regarding the process.


Each and every "body" has different levels of efficiency of basic "housecleaning and functioning". Fit and active people have more efficient circulatory systems. Obesity, chronic illness,tobacco smoking and/or sedentary lifestyles are a few examples of conditions that decrease the efficiency of circulation. Remember, blood carries oxygen to the tissues and is the food for EVERY cell in the body.
Veins and lymphatics carry inflammatory chemicals and waste products AWAY from the tissues. Inflammatory chemicals directly stimulate the nerve endings that make us feel pain.So, better circulation, faster healing and less pain. Slower circulation, sluggish healing and potential for more pain.


Scar tissue is made up of connective tissue. Connective tissue does just what it says; it "connects" stuff together.The rate at which a person scars and the amount of the scar tissue formed is something that a person is born with and cannot be changed. It is important in the healing process, especially after surgery because it closes the wound and allows us to return to regular function. A normal amount of scar tissue is good, but sometimes people have scar tissue that grows too much,too fast and sticks too many different tissues together.If you get too much scarring around or in a joint, it will limit the range of motion, and your physical therapist will treat it with joint mobilization to stretch out that scar tissue.


The function of everything in our body changes as we age, and most of the time it means healing occurs slower. Arteries are elastic so they can pump blood, and as we age, the elasticity is stretched out like an old pair of pantyhose. This means the blood is pumped less efficiently, i.e. slower, and the blood gets to the tissues less effectively. Muscle contractions, especially in the arms and legs,help pump used blood and lymph fluids back towards the heart to be cleaned and have oxygen put back onto the blood cells.As you become more sedentary with aging, it affects the efficiency of this system.Unfortunately, all of the cells in our body become less efficient and/or slower with age.


     Physical therapy is time and labor-intensive. In this world we live in today, we all run on our own "treadmill of life". It sometimes seems that there is no way we can possibly fit one more thing into our day. Too often, we do not weigh the impact of those decisions we make about our body and how it can make or break our ability to be active in the future. When your physician writes a prescription for PT, he or she will specify how many times per week to attend PT or they will leave it up to the physical therapist.Keeping your appointments is PERTINENT! It is the frequency of your sessions that helps optimize your rate of healing. Also, the consistency of your exercises and treatments through out the week has an impact on your progress. If you are given home exercises, it is extremely important to perform them on a regular basis. Commitment is defined as a pledge or a promise. This promise should be made to yourself and your body.It is the right thing to do, and it will affect your body in a positive manner for the rest of your life. Thanks for reading............Kale

Topics: health, fitness, physical therapy