One of the more common questions we receive when meeting new clients is in regards to how many physical therapy sessions they’ll need before they’ll experience a full recovery. As you might imagine, there’s rarely a straightforward answer to that question because no two injuries are ever exactly the same. That said, there are some factors that can help to predict how long you’ll need physical therapy. In today’s blog, we explain how your physical therapist works to determine how long you’ll need physical therapy for.
How Long Do I Need Physical Therapy?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, even when talking about the same types of injuries. While the projected recovery timeline may look very similar, one person may need a couple weeks to overcome a sprained ankle, while another client may need months to fully recover from their sprained ankle. How long you’ll need to recover will be based on a variety of factors. Here’s what your physical therapist examines when working to project your recovery timeline:
Injury Severity – The severity of your injury will go a long way in determining how long you’ll need physical therapy. Mild or moderate injuries generally need less time to heal than a more severe injury. Surgically repaired areas tend to have less variance in recovery time, but that still doesn’t mean that all knee replacement procedures will heal at the same rate. Other factors listed below will come into play.
Overall Health – Your age and your overall health will help to predict how long recovery may take. In general, younger and healthier adults will heal faster than older adults or those with other comorbidities. Our body is better at repairing itself when we are younger, so patients in their 20s, 30s and 40s will typically recover faster than those in their 60s and above.
Your Goals – We always ask patients about their individual goals during their PT sessions because they will help to dictate their recovery timeline. An adult who is simply trying to get back walking without pain after an ankle sprain may need fewer physical therapy sessions than a college athlete who wants to get back to playing at the collegiate level. Your goals and your lifestyle will have an influence on your recovery timeline.
Your Work Ethic – It’s not always easy to predict someone’s work ethic during the first appointment, so it can be hard to know exactly how long it will take someone to recover until you see how hard they are willing to work. Your work ethic will influence how long it will take you to recover. If you put in the work and commit to your exercise routine, you’ll likely need less time to make a full recovery than someone who skips sessions or doesn’t do their home-based exercises.
It’s also worth remembering that when it comes to physical therapy, your recovery timeline is fluid. During every session, your physical therapist will conduct baseline tests to get a better idea of the progress you are making. If you’re making great strides, they may have you take on greater challenges as you near the end of your rehab, and if your progress has stalled a bit, they will make some necessary adjustments. Don’t assume that you will only need six weeks of physical therapy because that was the estimate that your physical therapist suggested at the outset. You may only need four weeks, or you may need eight weeks or longer. It will all depend on a variety of factors, only some of which you can control.
We can’t say exactly how long you’ll need physical therapy for, but if you are willing to put in the work and you trust your care to a talented team like the one you’ll find at OrthoRehab Specialist, we’re confident that you’ll be giving yourself the best chance to hit the shorter end of your recovery timeline. For more information, or to talk with a PT about an issue you’re facing, give our team a call today at (612) 339-2041.