Can a contraction of the muscle ever be reversed with physical therapy before the muscle gets too contracted?
Yes, absolutely. Contractures of the muscles are due to inactivity and disuse. Even if the person has suffered an illness like a CVA and the extremity is paralyzed, contractures of the muscles can be prevented with regular range of motion (ROM) exercises performed by a physical therapist. This is especially relevant for nurses and assistants who work in long term care facilities. Passive ROM exercises can be performed while giving a bed bath.
Bed-bound patients are susceptible to all sorts of contractures of the limbs, even if the patient suffers from some debilitating neuromuscular disease, contractures should never occur. This is an illness of neglect and can be readily prevented.