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Brett Sears

Wear the Right Clothes to Physical Therapy

By October 2, 2012

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I saw a patient today who recently had an anterior cruciate ligament repair in her knee. Her surgery was a couple weeks ago and she is doing quite well. She even started back to work earlier this week.

As a part of her rehabilitation, I am using neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to improve the muscular recruitment of her quadriceps muscle. If you read my posts, you might know that I am not really big on using therapeutic modalities, but NMES is one that I use quite a bit to help people improve muscular recruitment after surgery and injury.

So my patient shows up today for therapy, and she is ready to go. She is also dressed for work. Her hair is well groomed. Nice blouse. Khaki pants. The problem is that her pants are a bit tight, and rolling them up makes it relatively impossible to apply the electrodes for the NMES to her quad.

"Oh crud," she says. Her pant leg is rolled up over her knee, but her quad is mostly hidden by her pant leg. Plus, rolling her pants up made it a bit tighter over her thigh muscle. I grab an electrode and try to squiggle my hand up her rolled-up pant leg, but to no avail.

I hand her the electrode, and I step out of the treatment area and pull the curtain. She laughs as she has to reach down her pants under the waistband and sitck the electrode to her thigh. "All set." she says. We start the NMES, and she performs quad strengthening exercises while the NMES is on. After the treatment, the process of pulling the curtian and retrieving the elecrtrode is repeated. She then continues her rehab program and treatment.

Lesson: wear the right clothing to physical therapy.

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October 5, 2012 at 11:06 am
(1) Wonky says:

Lesson #2: For patients with recent or impending ACL surgery, expect activities of daily living to take you twice as long in the first weeks after surgery. Set reasonable expectations, give yourself PLENTY of time, and don’t put undue pressure on yourself by trying to be efficient. Just tell your employer you’ll be late. Your knee is depending on you.

Oh, and how polite of your patient to say “crud”….ahem.

October 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm
(2) physicaltherapy says:

Thanks for your comment, and thanks for the great advice for my readers! Knee surgery, especially ACL surgery, is a pretty big deal, and your knee won’t be moving well for a few weeks after surgery. Getting around can be tough, but so can dressing, showering, driving, and walking the dog. Even sitting and watching TV can be a little painful, so be kind to your knee, and understand that you cannot rush the healing process.

Thanks again for your comment. And yes, my patients only use family friendly words like “crud.”

February 21, 2014 at 2:36 am
(3) Cara says:

I am having surgery next week to fix my torn ACL and torn miniscus…I am planing on going shopping for clothes for physical therapy. Could you tell me what would be best to get. I was going to get capri pants because my long yoga pants would just rub on the bandages all the time. So those wouldn’t workout. I am looking for ideas please…

February 21, 2014 at 5:56 am
(4) physicaltherapy says:

Capri pants should be fine, as long as they roll up a bit so your PT can access your quadriceps muscle, just in case you use electrical stimulation called NMES to the quad to improve its contractile function. Athletic shorts are probably a good idea too. And have athletic shoes. Early after your rehab, you likely won’t be doing too much with them, but always be ready to progress with weight bearing activities where you may require sneakers.

Hope this helps, and good luck.

February 21, 2014 at 1:50 pm
(5) Cara says:

Thanks Brett…I have never done P.T. before so I am a little scared and my friend says she is going to come with me so she can push me and keep me motivated. I am not a fan of shorts so I will just make sure I can roll the capris up a little bit. I will make sure to get new shoes too in that case since most mine are mostly heels and dress flats.

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