Rehabilitation is the action of restoring someone to health or normal life through training and therapy after illness or trauma. The primary aim of musculoskeletal injury rehabilitation is to restore the person to their full function in the shortest time possible. What does this mean in the scope of Biokinetics? As stated in one of our previous articles, Biokinetics means life through movement. Biokineticists deal with restoring people’s muscles back to normal function after they have suffered from an injury, illness or surgery that has left the person unable to perform at their previous level of wellness.
The Rehabilitation Process
The rehabilitation process may include many health care professionals, but the Biokineticist usually deals with the final phase of rehab. In the case of an acute injury, the patient will usually be seen by their Doctor and Physio in the initial phase. Once they are more or less 80% pain free and have approximately 80% of their ROM back, they will then engage in a structured exercise program designed to meet their specific needs. For persons with more chronic conditions, they may start with the Biokineticist as soon as they are given clearance by their healthcare provider to start with an exercise program.
Find a Biokineticist
When starting a rehabilitation program, whether it is for an acute injury or as a result of a more long-term/chronic condition, it is important to find a therapist who understands your requirements. Every person is a unique individual who needs an individualised program. There is no “one recipe” that will work for everyone as each person has different personality and lifestyle factors that will influence their response to their rehabilitation program. The keys to a successful rehabilitation program are:
- Providing Precise Prescription
- Making use of available facilities
- And starting as soon as possible
When looking for someone to assist you in your rehabilitation process, choose a therapist who will cover these bases. Now, let’s go into a little more detail regarding the above keys.
Get Clarity on your program
It is important that the rehabilitation plan is explained to you, the patient, with realistic, approximate time frames set. Understand upfront that the time frames of recovery need to remain flexible. It is impossible to give an exact date that the person will be finished with their therapy as there are many external factors that can influence the progress. With that said, having short term goals will help to keep you motivated throughout the program whilst working towards your long-term goal.
It is also important for the therapist to explain the rationale behind their program. Knowing why they are doing certain exercises contributes to the patient’s compliance. As an example, giving a patient ankle stabilization exercises when they are coming for a knee injury. The person may wonder why they are doing ankle work, when their ankle is not the issue. However, during the assessment the therapist may have found that the lack of stability in the ankle contributed to the additional strain on the knee, resulting in the injury. If the patient understands this, they will then be more inclined to stick to their prescribed program.
It is important for your therapist to emphasize correct technique throughout the rehabilitation program, as well as carefully apply the principles for the progression and limitation of activities and exercises. This requires the focused, one-on-one attention of your therapist at all times. In this way, the program can be monitored and adjusted as necessary. Achieving this whilst supervising several patients at one time is unlikely.
Make use of available facilities
Make your therapist aware of what facilities you have access to as you will need to do homework. If you have a gym or pool available and you have always enjoyed using these facilities, they should be included your home-program (if you can safely do so). Alternatively, using basic equipment like balls, elastic bands, stairs and body work activities can be just as effective.
Begin rehabilitation as soon as possible
It is best to embark on your rehabilitation program as early as possible after the initial injury, surgery or diagnosis. After a trauma, there is rapid muscle atrophy, due to the cellular response to inflammation, pain and immobility. The sooner one can start on the road to recovery, the better; not only physiologically, but also psychologically.
There are several important components of the rehabilitation program, namely:
- Muscle conditioning
- Functional exercises
- Correction of abnormal biomechanics
- Maintenance of cardiovascular fitness
Start with what your condition will allow, even if it is only gentle stretching in the beginning. Pain will be one of the biggest determining factors on how much you will be able to start with and how quickly you can progress through the different elements. By the end of your rehabilitation program, make sure you have incorporated all the above components. And soon you will be on the road to recovery.
To find a Biokineticist in your area, you can look on the BASA (Biokinetics Association of South Africa) website www.biokineticssa.org.za or CONTACT US at Fish & Field Biokineticists to book a consultation.