Limb Lengthening Physical Therapy

Please watch video for necessary physical therapy before the surgery.The importance of physical therapy to growing taller cannot be overestimated. Qualified  therapy not only helps to restore a full range of motion (ROM) to the joint in order to achieve a perfect gait, but also to decrease the duration of rehabilitation and the length of the entire procedure.  Crucial to the effectiveness of physical therapy is patient cooperation.  A patient must be highly motivated to work hard physically. This is an important basis for successful achievement of the ultimate goal in the shortest possible time. There are three parts of physical therapy, each with its own importance:

1.    Stretching in preparation of legs for lengthening.
2.    Therapy in the process of lengthening and during the fixation period.
3.    Physical therapy after frame removal

1.    To better understand the goal of physical therapy, some specifics of anatomy and the biomechanics of the human tibia and femur must be known. As anyone can feel, normal muscle distribution around the tibia is not even. There are no muscles on the anterior/medial surface of the tibia, but muscles are strongly pronounced on posterior and lateral parts of tibia. The strongest muscle of our body, M. Gastrocnemius, connects the femur condyles to the heel by the Achilles tendon, and resists lengthening. As a result, especially at the end of lengthening, there is usually difficulty in extending the knee and keeping the foot in dorsal flexion. Please see our first video on how to prepare your legs for esthetic leg lengthening to prevent possible limitations of joint ROM.

2.    The most important period for physical therapy starts the day after surgery. One of the advantages of the Ilizarov method is that the frame provides necessary rigidity, firmly fixing the bone fragments. This makes it possible to stand on operated legs and start exercises the day after the surgery. The goal of physical therapy is to achieve maximal ROM of the joints and to walk as much as possible. A bedside intensive course of therapy with a physical therapist encourages our patients psychologically.  To make the exercises more pleasant, we usually organize entertainments, making trips to different places in the town and countryside.   See our video of therapy in the process of lengthening.

3.    After frame removal, physical therapy should be performed carefully, especially in the first days after frame removal, when the distraction callus is not strong enough to resist bending forces. Over extensive force in therapy can cause callus malunions, and affect the joint surface of osteoporotic bones. We generally recommend intensive therapy one month after frame removal. Usually, it takes one to three months to complete the restoration of the range of joint motion to achieve a perfect gait.