The first and most critical part of typical knee rehabilitation lasts for 12 weeks and begins within 24 hours of the knee replacement, according to Healthline. Successful knee rehabilitation relies on the patient completing 12 weeks of physical therapy and committing to a long term exercise program to achieve full rehabilitation within 12 months after surgery.
During the first day, a physical therapist helps the patient stand and walk with the new knee, notes Healthline. She also walks the patient through a series of exercises to help strengthen the muscles around the knee replacement. Upon discharge, a patient is able to complete basic self-care tasks and bend the knee at least 90 degrees.
For the first six weeks, a patient may use an assistive device to him him walk, explains Healthline. With at-home physical therapy, the patient should no longer need a cane or other device after week six. The patient can expect to return to daily activities, see much less swelling and inflammation, and be able to climb stairs and walk easily.
At seven to 11 weeks, it is essential that the patient commits to a full exercise program, which may contain knee bends, hip abductions, bicycling, balancing on one foot, toe and heel raises, and other exercises, according to Healthline. The patient should also work to complete all types of daily tasks without assistance, and his knee should bend approximately 115 degrees.
By week 12, most patients can run, ski and play sports, notes Healthline. Doctors still require regular checkups to ensure the knee functions correctly, but the patient should continue his own exercise program to fully rehabilitate the knee.