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Physical Therapy Duration: How Long Does it Take for Physical Therapy to Work?

Caregiver is teaching old man to walk with walker outside

 We Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman

Published:

December 6th, 2021


For elderly adults who want to regain strength or mobility after an injury or surgery, starting in-home physical therapy (PT) is an excellent option. But once people start PT, there’s often confusion about when to stop physical therapy.

Are you an elderly adult looking for accessible physical therapy services in your area?

Do you have questions about physical therapy duration or the success rate of physical therapy for seniors?

As we age, mobility issues can begin to appear more frequently. Physical therapy can benefit any elderly adult who’s interest in:

  • Reducing their risk of falling when moving around
  • Receiving assistance using a cane or other assistive device
  • Relearning to walk after a stroke
  • Regaining strength after a surgery or injury

But after you begin your treatment, how long should you do physical therapy

In this article, we’re sharing all about PT for seniors and answering common questions. Some of the questions we’ll look at include:

Join us to get an expert’s answer to all these questions and more.

 

We offer in-home physical therapy in the Charlottesville and Richmond, VA areas.

Learn More

 

5 Common Questions About Physical Therapy for Seniors

Are you looking for an answer to, “How long should you go to physical therapy?” or “How long can physical therapy last?”

Here are five of the most common questions about physical therapy for seniors.

 

Is There an Option for In-home Physical Therapy?

Yes, there are personal at-home physical therapy options for seniors.

With in-home physical therapy, a trained physical therapist (PT) goes to the client’s home and walks them through exercises. This kind of personal PT comes with many benefits for seniors, like:

  • One-on-one attention with the physical therapist for the entire session
  • A personalized action plan suited to the client’s lifestyle and home layout
  • The convenience of not needing to leave the home

It’s crucial for elderly adults to get PT, especially after a serious injury or surgery. Otherwise, they may experience reduced mobility or complete loss of function in the affected body part.

In-home physical therapy makes it easy and convenient for seniors to get PT—wherever they call home.

 

How Long Does it Take for Physical Therapy to Work?

Once someone starts PT, they often want to know how long it will take for the therapy to work.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to “How long does it take for physical therapy to work?”

Instead, the length of time it takes for PT to bear fruit will depend on a few things:

  • The injury and its severity: Some injuries or surgeries will take longer to recover from than others. For example, recovering from slight wrist pain will most likely take less time than relearning how to walk after a stroke.
  • How many PT sessions you have each week: Second, the number of PT sessions you have each week will affect your recovery time. If you have three sessions each week compared to one, PT will probably provide positive results faster.
  • Whether you do the exercise on your own between sessions or not: Lastly, doing exercises your therapist shows you on your own can speed up your recovery process. Even if you only see your therapist once or twice a week, doing exercise independently can greatly supplement your official PT sessions.

Before you officially start PT, your physical therapist will do an initial assessment to better understand your current condition. After the assessment, they can most likely give an estimate about your physical therapy duration.

 

How Long Should Physical Therapy Last?

Like the question “How long does it take for physical therapy to work?” the question, “How long should you do physical therapy?” doesn’t have a straight answer.

Instead, treatment length varies based on your unique situation and needs. But here’s a quick overview to help you think about how long your PT might take:

  • Minor injuries: 2-3 sessions 
  • Soft tissue injuries: 6-8 weeks
  • Chronic or serious conditions: 2-3+ months 

Just remember, every situation is unique and there’s no magic formula or medicine for quick healing. It’s always best to listen to your physical therapist’s recommendations and follow their instructions to ensure your treatment is successful.  

 

How Do You Know When to Stop Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy isn’t meant to be something that you do forever. Instead, there should come a time when you can stop PT.

There are two indicators that can help you know when to stop physical therapy:

  • You’ve reached your PT goals
  • You’re not seeing additional improvements

Here’s a closer look at these two indicators.

 

You’ve Reached Your Goals

At the start of your treatment, your physical therapist will help you set goals. These goals will be an indication to you and your therapist that the exercise plan is working.

Examples of goals might include:

Your goals will be unique to your situation. But once you achieve your goals, you can stop scheduling official PT sessions.

 

You’re Not Seeing Progress

There are times when you may do PT for a few weeks (or months) and see no progress toward your goals. At this point, it may be wise to consider stopping PT.

 But before stopping PT, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Am I doing exercises on my own outside of official sessions?
  • Have I set realistic, achievable goals for myself?
  • Is my PT aware of my lack of progress and are they making any adjustments?

If you answer “yes” to all of these and there’s still no progress, then it may be wise to talk with your PT about stopping therapy and considering other options.

 

What Happens if Physical Therapy Doesn’t Work?

We briefly mentioned this above, but sometimes PT won’t seem to be working. Your physical therapist will come over week after week and month after month, and yet you won’t see any improvements.

So, what happens if physical therapy doesn’t work?

If physical therapy isn’t working, there are few options you can consider:

  • Continuing PT with new adjustments: Your PT may be able to make some adjustments and create a new plan of action. After a few more weeks, you can reassess the new plan and whether it’s working or not.
  • Looking into surgery: Alternatively, your PT may suggest that getting surgery followed by more physical therapy is the best course of action. Surgery may help repair the injury and restarting PT after the surgery can provide renewed strength and mobility.
  • Stopping PT altogether: Physical therapy isn’t a guaranteed fix for recovery. There are times when it won’t lead to complete restoration and you’ll simply have to stop. If you’ve considered or tried the first two options and you still aren’t seeing any progress, then it may be time to stop PT and start exploring other options for managing or addressing your pain.

It’s important that you stay in contact with your PT and any other medical providers as you make these decisions. They can advise you on the best way forward and help you know what to do when PT doesn’t seem to work.

But overall, the success rate of physical therapy is very high, especially for elderly adults who commit to attending every session and doing exercises on their own.

 

Professional In-home PT in Richmond and Charlottesville, VA

Physical therapy is a great way for seniors to:

  • Regain strength after an injury
  • Restore mobility after a surgery
  • Increase confidence moving around

But when it comes to PT, you might have many questions about physical therapy’s duration and when to stop physical therapy.

Some of the most common questions that we addressed in this article included:

  • Is there an option for in-home physical therapy?
  • How long does it take for physical therapy to work?
  • How long should you do physical therapy?
  • How do you know when to stop physical therapy?
  • What happens if physical therapy doesn’t work?

If you’re an elderly adult or an adult child with elderly parents looking for in-home physical therapy in Richmond or Charlottesville, VA, then Commonwise Home Care is the place for you.

At Commonwise Home Care, we provide all levels of care to elderly adults, including private physical therapy at home. Our physical therapists have their doctor’s of physical therapy degrees and have experience with a wide range of needs. Whether you simply want to reduce fall risks or need advanced assistance learning to walk after a serious injury or surgery, our physical therapists will create a personalized care plan for you.

Contact us today to learn more about in-home physical therapy and our other premium in-home elder care options.

 

We offer in-home physical therapy in the Charlottesville and Richmond, VA areas.

Learn More

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