Orthopedic Physical Therapy

Orthopedic Physical Therapy in Pennsylvania

Orthopedic physical therapy can help you recover from joint replacement surgery, sports injuries, and other musculoskeletal conditions. It can even help you prevent orthopedic problems from happening in the first place. The Rehabilitation Center of Penn Highlands Healthcare offers sports medicine physical therapy, rehabilitation therapy, and orthopedic physical therapy at 25+ rehabilitation centers throughout Pennsylvania.

Orthopedic Physical Therapy

Orthopedic physical therapy is a form of rehabilitation therapy that focuses on restoring function and strength in patients who have experienced a sports or musculoskeletal injury. It also can help patients prepare for surgery, prevent an injury, or recover from joint replacement and other orthopedic surgeries.

During orthopedic sports and physical therapy, your rehabilitation specialist will work with you to create a personalized plan designed to help you reduce pain, regain function, build strength and more so you can return to regular activity. Your physical therapist will then work with you to achieve your goals by guiding you through supervised stretches and exercises and using other techniques, such as aquatic therapy, massage, icing and taping.

Expert Orthopedic Physical Therapy Throughout Pennsylvania

The Penn Highlands Healthcare Rehabilitation Center offers orthopedic physical therapy at more than 20 rehabilitation centers throughout central and western Pennsylvania. Our centers are staffed by highly skilled physical therapists who work closely with Penn Highlands orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, pain management physicians, and rehabilitation physicians to develop individually tailored programs for our patients. Our physical therapists provide both inpatient and outpatient physical therapy, as well as work with patients in their homes through our Penn Highlands Healthcare at Home program.

Remember, you don’t have to be injured to get benefit from orthopedic physical therapy. We can help you become stronger to maintain your activity level and avoid injuries. Talk to your doctor about rehabilitation services at Penn Highlands.


How does orthopedic physical therapy help me?

Physical therapists are medical professionals who are specially trained in body mechanics and movement. Your therapist will evaluate your physical capabilities and rehabilitation therapy needs to create a plan to help you meet your activity goals. Although many people think they can just exercise on their own to recover from surgery or injury, a professional physical therapist who specializes in orthopedics and sports medicine evaluates how supporting or opposing muscles are or are not working and which ones need strengthening or are overly strong. They also evaluate things like your gait, balance, even jumping and landing to understand how your body is working and what needs strengthening.

Orthopedic physical therapy and sports medicine physical therapy have three predominant purposes: injury prevention, injury recovery and surgical rehabilitation.

How can orthopedic physical therapy help with injury prevention?

Athletes of all ages and abilities can benefit from sports medicine physical therapy to prevent an injury from occurring and even improve performance. Your physical therapist can work with you to build strength and flexibility necessary for your specific sport. He or she can also teach you proper form, jumping techniques, and assess your gait to reduce your risk of injury.

You don’t have to call yourself an “official athlete” to benefit from preventative physical therapy. If you work-out regularly, plan leisure sports, or just want to continue moving through life with ease, an orthopedic physical therapist can help assess strengths and weaknesses and build a plan to help you maintain or improve your physical fitness.

Individuals at high risk of falling can also benefit from working with a physical therapist before an injury occurs. Older adults and people with gait problems or disabilities that make a fall likely, can build strength and balance to prevent falling.

How can orthopedic physical therapy help me recover from injury?

Orthopedic physical therapy can help you recover from an injury or treat a musculoskeletal condition, such as a sprain or strain, bone fracture, dislocation, arthritis and more. Your physical therapist will use a variety of techniques, including stretching and exercise, aquatic therapy, massage, icing, and taping, to treat your condition. Often, physical therapy is used in combination with other treatments, such as medication therapy, and may even help you avoid surgery in some cases.

Why do I need orthopedic physical therapy after surgery?

If surgery is required to treat an orthopedic or sports medicine injury or you’re having joint replacement surgery, orthopedic physical therapy will be an important part of your recovery. Not only can physical therapy help you return to your activities sooner, but adherence to rehabilitation therapy can also result in better surgical outcomes, improved strength and better range of motion.

Some surgical procedures come with a prescription for physical therapy prior to surgery, often called prehabilitation. This type of therapy is designed to help patients improve strength and function and prepare them for surgery. It can make the recovery process easier and reduce complications.

Orthopedic physical therapy after joint replacement?

Following joint replacement surgery, you’ll need to participate in rehabilitation to ensure long-lasting results. Orthopedic physical therapy helps you recover faster, rebuild strength and mobility, and even eases pain and swelling.

When will I start orthopedic physical therapy after joint replacement?

Right away. In fact, orthopedic physical therapy begins the same day or the next day following surgery. A rehabilitation therapy specialist will visit you in your hospital room and help you perform simple exercises and may even have you walk around a bit.

Will someone show me how to stand up/get out of bed after joint replacement surgery before I leave the hospital?

Yes, learning how to get in and out of chairs and beds is an important part of joint replacement rehabilitation. Your rehabilitation therapy specialist will make sure you know how to stand up and sit down and how to use crutches or a walker during your first orthopedic physical therapy session while you are in the hospital. You’ll also learn a few exercises to help with circulation so you don’t get blood clots in your legs.

How often and for how long will I have to go to physical therapy after my joint replacement?

How long you’ll need orthopedic physical therapy depends on several factors, including your health prior to surgery, the joint you had replaced, and your commitment to rehabilitation. Most knee replacement patients, for example, will need about 12 weeks of orthopedic physical therapy with two visits per week while also working on the prescribed exercises at home between visits.

Where can I go for orthopedic physical therapy near me?

The Rehabilitation Center at Penn Highlands Healthcare offers orthopedic physical therapy at more than 25+ rehabilitation centers throughout rural Pennsylvania. Our physical therapists can also work with patients in their homes through our Penn Highlands Healthcare at Home program. Talk to your doctor about your rehabilitation needs, or call our Pennsylvania rehabilitation services at 814-375-3053.

Will I need inpatient or outpatient physical therapy?

At all 25+ of our Pennsylvania outpatient rehabilitation therapy centers, we provide a range of services for individuals of all ages. For those who need more intensive therapy or supervised care, we offer acute inpatient rehabilitation at Penn Highlands DuBois. Our rehabilitation therapists are highly trained and passionate about what they do—helping each patient regain independence and a better quality of life.

Does Penn Highlands offer orthopedic physical therapy at home?

Yes. If you’re recovering from surgery or an injury that makes it difficult for you to leave your home, you could benefit from our in-home rehabilitation therapy services. Our physical therapists can work with you in the comfort of your own home to meet your functional goals. Learn more about our home health program.

What is the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy?

Physical therapy and occupation therapy are closely related specialties. Both can be used to help you regain function following an injury or disability. While orthopedic physical therapy focuses on building muscle strength and range of motion to help restore physical activity, occupational therapy focuses on improving motor skills and relearning how to perform or adapt activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, preparing meals and personal hygiene rituals.

Does orthopedic physical therapy work?

Yes, orthopedic physical therapy is highly effective at helping prevent or treat injuries or to help patients recover after orthopedic surgery or joint replacement surgery. Patients who actively participate in physical therapy may even be able to reduce pain and avoid surgery in some cases. And those who adhere to a prescribed physical therapy program following joint replacement surgery have better range of motion and report better outcomes compared to patients who do not complete physical therapy.

Can I do physical therapy on my own?

Orthopedic physical therapy should be performed under supervision by a licensed physical therapist. The right exercises and proper form are key to restoring function, building strength and preventing further injury.