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Physical Therapy

Within several days of your surgery, you will begin a thorough and on-going rehabilitation program designed to improve the blood supply to the limb and promote healing.

If you are having a leg lengthened or corrected, you will begin physical therapy in the hospital until you can walk. Your physical therapist may teach you exercises to help you develop sitting and standing balance, stability and coordination to prepare you for mobilization and ambulation. 1

If you are having an arm lengthened or corrected, you will begin physical therapy in the hospital until you are able to use the arm for a range of daily care.

Learning to walk with balance and stability or use your arm with coordination after the external fixator is attached usually takes about three to four days.

Your exercise program is your surgeon's prescription. The exercise program designed for you will depend on the type of correction or lengthening treatment you are undergoing.

Your therapist will design a home-exercise program encouraging you to maintain the limb's range of motion and strength. Their objective is to help you become as independent as possible to cope with the external fixator and promote healing.

Aerobic activities increase blood flow and strengthen bones. It burns calories, increases resistance to disease and decreases tension. It also releases endorphins, your body's own pain-control system.

To avoid complications, your exercise program should be followed with commitment and discipline. You may be able to walk, ride a stationary bike and swim in a chlorinated, clean pool (after your sutures are out).

You must bear weight on the limb which is being treated with the external fixator, after you've been released by your surgeon, or you may not heal properly.

You must exercise your affected extremity to increase blood flow, grow healthy bones tissue and not damage your limb further. For a leg fitted with the TAYLOR SPATIAL FRAME, that means walking on your leg. For an arm fitted with an external fixator, that means using small weights. Putting weight on the treated extremity promotes healing. 2

Whatever the method, exercise is critical for a speedy recovery. Check with your surgeon and your physical therapist for specific instructions.


1. Smeltzer, Suzanne C. and Brenda G. Bare. Brunner and Suddarth's Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing. Pennsylvania: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 1992.

2. Schwartsman, Vladimir, M.D. "What One Should Know About the ILIZAROVTM Method, The ILIZAROVTM Method, August 2000.

Please discuss nutrition, medication and treatment options with your doctor to make sure you are getting the proper care for your particular situation.  The information on this site does not replace your doctor's specific instructions.