Rehab after Shoulder Surgery: An Athletic Therapist’s Perspective

“Off the Chain” – It’s all connected!
August 3, 2019
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Rehab after Shoulder Surgery: An Athletic Therapist’s Perspective

Shoulder injuries can be difficult to deal with, especially ones that require surgery. The shoulder joint is a very complex unit that highly relies on the surrounding musculature to provide stability. High mobility with low stability joint doesn’t set us up for the best success but that doesn’t mean we are automatically prone to getting major injuries that do require surgery.


If you are suffering from a shoulder injury in a post-operative situation, proper rehab is a crucial part of your recovery and functionality. As Athletic Therapists, we pride ourselves on providing patients with the best possible care and we ensure that our post-operative treatment is personalized and achievable for our patients.

Protocol For Success: Athletic Therapy & Should Treatment

While we have to follow the surgeon’s protocol, having a concrete understanding of the anatomy and the daily demands of the shoulder complex plays a big part in our patient’s success. While the range of motion is crucial to gain, it can be one of the hardest parts of the post-op rehab for the patient and therapist. Where I find most of my success as an Athletic Therapist with my post-op patients is setting realistic and achievable goals as well as ensuring that my patient knows the rehab goals and timeline.


Most of my success has come from keeping an open line of communication with patients and always reassuring them that they are progressing even if they don’t necessarily realize it. We tend to see “the big stuff” as goals we have achieved, for example having a full range of motion, but often ignore the small stuff like being able to brush your teeth without any issues. These small “wins” are an important part of the rehab process, especially post-op as a lot of daily activities are affected initially. Encouraging my patients on these small “wins” and having them realize that’s it’s a big step in the rehab process goes a long way in patient compliance and self-motivation.


Overall, post-op shoulder injuries can be a difficult time for patients as their lives are put on hold for a while until they get the proper rehab to become functional again. My role as an Athletic Therapist is not only to help get your shoulder back to a highly functional level without any secondary complications but to ensure that you’re feeling supported and motivated throughout the entire process. Bringing my compassion and drive to help my patients goes a long way in my patient’s rehab results. When the patient and therapist work together to achieve a goal, it has greater success compared to it being a one-man team!


Written by: Marilyne Doucet, Certified Athletic Therapist

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