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What are some types of therapy that I might have to undergo?

Dr. Robert S. Pashman

Los Angeles, CA

Most of my pediatric and adolescent patients do not require any physical therapy. A careful description of what post-operative activities they should and should not participate in usually suffices for these patients. In adults, physical therapy can range from exercises in a swimming pool to land-based strengthening and cardiovascular instruction.

Dr. Jean-Pierre C. Farcy

New York, NY
M.M.C. Spine Center

According to the type of surgery you have had you may need respiratory therapy and respiratory exercise.

Dr. Dennis G. Crandall

Mesa, AZ

For adults, a strengthening, endurance, and flexibility program is often helpful. This is followed by instructions regarding a home exercise program.

Dr. Scott J. Luhmann

St. Louis, MO

In the hospital, the physical therapist will assist and teach the appropriate methods for transferring from bed to chair and to standing position. Your ability to ambulate (walk) will be assessed, and the therapist may temporarily have you use a walker to help with your balance.

Dr. Thomas G. Lowe

Woodridge Orthopaedics & Spine Center, P.C.

Usually physical therapy is not needed. Usually I put everybody on a walking program for the first six weeks. When they leave the hospital, they walk on their own with a goal of walking 1-2 miles and they are next seen in the office at approximately six weeks following the surgery. At that point, they are instructed in a back exercise program as well as light aerobic type exercises. Patients are usually back to full activities at approximately 3-4 months without the need for formal physical therapy.

Dr. John P. Lubicky

Chicago, IL
Shriner's Hospital for Children

If you do need therapy, mainly it will be involved in getting you up and about so that you can either walk or transfer to a wheelchair. Additionally, if you have some muscle weakness, various exercises will be prescribed to help strengthen those muscles.

Dr. David W. Polly, Jr.

Minneapolis, MN

The main thing is for you to walk for exercise as you feel better.

Dr. Charles E. Johnston, II

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Orthopedic Group

You will do your own therapy by walking and moving around for the first month or so after surgery.

Dr. John T. Smith

University of Utah Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

In general, there is very little therapy required after scoliosis surgery. A therapist will help you get out of bed on the first or second day after surgery, without straining your back. They will then help you walk in the halls and eventually climb up and down the stairs. Once you can do these things, then you are ready to go home. Most kids do not need to see a therapist after they get home.

Dr. Stephen Ondra

Chicago, IL

As discussed in the above question, the therapies we will use will include stretching of the muscles along the spine. These muscles were in an abnormal position while you had scoliosis and are suddenly stretched and reshaped after surgery. This leads to a lot of spasm. Stretching and massage are very helpful treatments. We also recommend a water-based program for the initial strengthening and getting your energy back. A walking program, as well as exercises to help balance your body and pelvis are also very useful.

Dr. Baron S. Lonner

New York, NY

Generally, basic instruction in transfer techniques from the bed to standing position is taught. Additionally, endurance and conditioning exercises such as walking and strengthening of the extremities can be instituted as well. Trunk stabilization and strengthening techniques may also be given. A tilt table is sometimes used early on.

Dr. W. Christopher Urban

Glen Burnie, MD

The initial goals of physical therapy are to begin mobilization, provide gait training, and facilitate simple activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, hygiene). The next phase focuses on building endurance and strengthening the core muscles that support the back. Information on back safety and proper lifting techniques also is provided to help you prevent future injury. Specific therapies include stretching, trunk stabilization, core muscle strengthening, aerobic exercise, and water therapy.

Dr. James Mooney, III

Detroit, MI

It is uncommon that significant physical therapy is required after surgery. Physical therapy service may be called to help you learn how to get in and out of bed safely and to move up and down safely.

The commentary above recounts the experiences of these physicians. Medtronic invited them to share their stories candidly. Keep in mind that results vary; not every patient's response is the same. Talk with your doctor to learn more about any products that are mentioned above.

It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications and benefits of spinal surgery with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your doctor's judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.

  • Published: June 20, 2002
  • Updated: April 19, 2010