Physical therapy may not be top of mind when you think of bariatric surgery, but learning proper techniques to improve movement and manage pain is important before and after weight-loss surgery. Physical Therapist Beth Jensen’s role is to teach and prepare people to move and exercise, making her an integral part of the SBL Bariatric Team.
When people first begin the bariatric program, Jensen assesses their response to activity. “If they are having pain, we address it before the surgery so they can be physically active and participate in the program,” Jensen explained.
Many times, if people have not been physically active, they do not know where to begin. Jensen works with people of all fitness levels before surgery. “If someone is very sedentary, then they can sit and do movement or exercises; there are specific things we can do to work toward getting them physically active.
And that doesn’t mean that they have to be up and walking. Maybe they can get up and walk a short distance,” she said. “There are other people who are physically active already, and we encourage them to continue that.”
The bariatric team meets weekly, collaborating on the progress of each patient. “We are there to support the patients, and we want to be on the same page,” Jensen said.
Patients see a physical therapist after bariatric surgery to ensure that they are doing their exercises or physical activities to reduce the risk of blood clots and to increase circulation to promote healing.
After surgery, physical activity is necessary to help ensure a successful weight-loss journey. Jensen recommends exercises to strengthen muscles to improve movement. “Often when someone has lost a significant amount of weight, their body changes dramatically. Their posture can change because they may have lost muscle mass and soft tissue with their weight loss. If they don’t exercise, their muscles don’t become strong enough to support their new alignment and posture,” she explained. During physical therapy, patients learn the skills necessary for a new level of activity and full range of movement.
Exercise and physical activity are necessary to have the best outcome with bariatric surgery. “The patients who are motivated to listen to the advice and instructions we give them are most successful,” Jensen said. “In the end, our goal is for patients to have the best outcome possible and to be happy with their decision to have bariatric surgery,” she added.
For more information about the SBL Bariatric Program, call the Medical Clinic at the Center for Healthy Living at 217-238-4961.