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The Benefits of Pilates Exercise in Orthopaedic Rehabilitation

Bryan, Melinda B.S., P.T.*; Hawson, Suzanne B.S., M.P.T.


Summary Pilates exercise has been introduced to the physical therapy community in recent years to enhance rehabilitation programs by focusing on spinal or core stabilization. This particular method can be incorporated into a patient’s treatment plan to improve strength, range of motion, coordination, balance, muscular symmetry, flexibility, and proprioception. It is a method of exercise performed on the floor, known as mat work, or on a spring-resistant apparatus. The patient, with the guidance of a physical therapist, performs efficient functional movement patterns, closed-chain and open-chain patterns, as well as multiple planes and positions provide for varied rehabilitation programming with many different orthopaedic diagnoses. Plyometric work can be incorporated with an attachment to the apparatus. There is very little research available relating to Pilates exercise for rehabilitation. A case study of a 48-year-old man with chronic low back pain reveals an 85.1% improvement on the visual analog scale for pain intensity and an 87.7% improvement in Oswestry score for functional disability after six physical therapy visits during which Pilates exercises were incorporated into patient programming.

*Performing Arts Physical Therapy of Los Angeles, West Hollywood; and the †Southern California Orthopedic Institute Physical Therapy Department, Van Nuys, California, USA.

Address correspondence to Melinda Bryan, BS, PT, Performing Arts Physical Therapy of Los Angeles, 8704 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 300, West Hollywood, CA 90069 USA; e-mail: Address reprint requests to Suzanne Hawson, MS, PT, 16027 Nordoff Street, North Hills, CA 91343 USA; e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.