The Role of the Physical Therapist in the Management of the Bariatric Patient

  • Alex Ordonez


Obesity affects people of all ages, socioeconomic status, and races. Obese patients commonly have low energy levels which coupled with pain can lead to inability to perform regular activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and multiple other household and work responsibilities. Physical therapy can provide assistance educating the population and in particular bariatric patients about the correct type and amount of physical activity. Physical therapy can assist patients who suffer from obesity to engage in pain-free physical activities aiming to lose fat, burn calories, preserve muscle, and avoid injuries especially in joints which are typically affected in this population. Physical therapy is an excellent tool to prevent potential muscle mass loss as a consequence of rapid weight loss in the bariatric postsurgical patient. In the acute care setting, the physical therapist will encourage early mobilization to prevent complications from bedrest as well as to promote patient independence. This will also include avoiding injuries to the patient and hospital personnel and addressing equipment needs. It is well known that prompt initiation of physical therapy and exercise in bariatric patients will lead to a significant improvement in quality of life, increased energy levels, better function, and decreased chronic pain. Physical therapy has clearly demonstrated to be a critical component during the early postoperative period as well as during the entire weight loss process. Hospital and surgeons performing weight loss surgery should consider and incorporate physical therapy as part of any bariatric protocol.


Physical therapy Bariatric surgery Physical activity Post surgery exercise Role 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, Bariatric Surgery CenterBeaumontUSA

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