Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Peggy Mohr


Flail Chest -- therapy; Case Reports


Background and Purpose - Fractures of the thoracic ribs are common injuries with a high incidence of secondary co-morbidities which may require a slower rehabilitation progression and result in a delayed return to full function. Patients with these diagnoses often seek physical therapy intervention in order to regain their prior level of function.

Case Description - A 51 year-old male sustained multiple rib fractures, pneumothorax, and a left shoulder injury as a result of falling backwards off a 6 foot platform. He presented to physical therapy for evaluation and treatment with the goal of returning to his occupation as a delivery driver. The plan of care consisted of therapeutic exercise and patient education.

Intervention - Interventions consisted primarily of therapeutic exercise. Additional interventions included patient education related to proper body mechanics, pacing, exercise instruction, work modifications, and posture.

Outcomes -A home exercise program (HEP) was completed over 5 weeks and resulted in a significant reduction of pain (0-1/10) and return to work at a full functional level.

Discussion - Although treatment of flail chest is well documented, current clinical guidelines do not mention which treatment options will optimize recovery. In this case study, therapeutic exercise and patient education were used to facilitate the return to full function.