Physical Therapy Optimizes Healing After Shoulder Surgery

When Lenny Marsh moved into a condo, he had to adapt to a new way of hauling groceries from his car into his kitchen.

Lenny Marsh undergoes rehab at Barr & Associates Physical Therapy with Jacob Barr, DPT, after rotator cuff repair surgery.

After physical therapy, Lenny can lift his arm with no problem.

His previous residence had been a house, where it didn’t take many steps to carry in groceries once he was home from the store.

In contrast, Lenny needed to carry heavy bags from a four-level parking garage at the condo. He laughs when explaining why he shunned getting a folding shopping cart that would have made the job easier.

“I didn’t want to get a shopping wagon because I didn’t want to look old. So I said, I’m going to carry everything myself,” recalls Lenny, who is 67.

Lenny figures that insistence is what led to his injury. He had trouble lifting his right arm, and his shoulder hurt. An MRI revealed a tear in his rotator cuff, the set of small muscles and tendons that gives the shoulder joint its wide range of motion.

The tear was large enough to require surgery, which Lenny scheduled. His goal was to return to his job within two months after the operation. He works in the shoe department of a large department store, which requires a fully functioning shoulder to reach for shoeboxes and help customers. 

For the best chance of optimal healing, Lenny scheduled post-surgery therapy with Jacob Barr, DPT, at Barr & Associates Physical Therapy. One of Lenny’s close friends had been a client of Dr. Barr’s and strongly recommended him.

“In Good Hands”

“After a rotator cuff repair, there are stages that patients need to go through as far as healing,” explains Dr. Barr. “Early on, especially the first four to six weeks, the patient should not be lifting the injured arm because they don’t want to disrupt the healing process.

“That’s where physical therapy really comes into play. The therapist is manipulating the patient’s arm to increase the range of motion. This keeps the arm and tissues moving and prevents adhesions and scar tissue from developing,” he adds. “Otherwise, there is a risk of developing a frozen shoulder or other complications.”

Dr. Barr was Lenny’s therapist at every session, which Lenny appreciated. He had confidence in Dr. Barr’s expertise and was comfortable under his care.

“Trust is important when you’re working with a physical therapist,” explains Lenny. “You have to trust how the therapist is stretching you out. I felt that I was in good hands.”

Another plus for Lenny was the clinic’s ultra-cleanliness.

“Dr. Barr keeps his facility spotless,” says Lenny. “Whenever we were done with a piece of equipment, he sprayed it down. He changed pillowcases every time I used one.”

Lenny’s first physical therapy sessions were restricted to massaging motions by Dr. Barr. He graduated to stretching and strengthening exercises and was given exercises to complete at home.

“There was no guessing about what I had to do at home because everything was spelled out,” shares Lenny. “But if I had any questions or thought I wasn’t doing it right, I could ask Dr. Barr.”

Lenny completed 18 sessions of physical therapy. He met his target for returning to work, and his shoulder is fully functional, with minimal to no pain.

“My arm is good! I’m having no problem with it,” he reports. “Dr. Barr is a real professional.”

FHCN article by Susan Hemmingway. Photo by Jordan Pysz. nj
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