Fueled in part by the Sports Medicine Movement in the past few decades, rehabilitation has become an integral part of not only the care of athletes and active individuals but has also had a positive impact on just about every segment of the population.
One of the most important factors in dealing with musculoskeletal (bone, joint, muscle, etc) injuries and ailments is rehabilitation. This is true not only for those who have had surgery but also for those who want to avoid it. Rehabilitation, or “rehab”, usually involves a step wise progressive program to regain maximal function. Programs will vary greatly depending on the specific bone, muscle or joint involved as well as the diagnosis. Exercise is usually the cornerstone and begins with regaining full mobility (range of motion), flexibility, strength and endurance. Next higher skills are incorporated such as regaining balance, coordination and proprioception until maximal function returns and the individual can return to the highest level desired and/or possible.
Individuals can sometimes do their rehab on their own but are often better served by working with a physical therapist or athletic trainer. This is one of the reasons why pro athletes seem to return to such higher levels of activity much sooner than anyone else. They are not only in better shape overall (which helps with recovery) but also have round the clock access to top notch physical therapists and trainers and advanced rehabilitation techniques. Athletes also lessen the risk of injuries and problems by using rehabilitation type programs in a preventive matter before injury strikes, something we call pre-habilitation or “pre-hab”. It includes strength, flexibility and cardiovascular conditioning program as well as preseason “screenings” to identify and improve potential problem areas or “weak links”.
Physical Therapy & Protocols
To learn more about Physical Therapy including sports injuries, rehabilitation, prevention and even careers as a physical therapist, check out the APTA Website. Protocols are standard sets of exercises and other treatments that are specific for each diagnosis. We will soon be adding sample rehab protocols for a wide variety of conditions from tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome to knee ligament injuries and back pain.