Rehabilitation is essentially the restoration of function to the maximum attainable level. Whether this function has been lost through injury, poor usage, or disease, rehabilitation is essential to facilitate recovery and prevent recurrence.
The following goals are integral to restoring function:
- Reduce pain & swelling
- Improve strength and stability
- Improve range
- Provide aids/support where necessary
- Ensure adjacent areas don't become affected
- Prevent recurrence
Rehabilitation is vital to the management of numerous conditions, ranging from acute injuries to long term neurological disorders.
All injuries, from minor bruises to major tears, require immediate attention in the acute and sub-acute stages. However, it is equally important to see treatment through the rehabilitative stages. This is particularly true if you are an athlete, or if your injury is interfering with your livelihood.
For example, an ankle sprain is a relatively common yet debilitating injury. However, once the acute phase is over, there are many associated factors that limit a return to function; these can include a loss of sensation, loss of muscle strength, tightness in the connective tissue, and general weakness of the torn ligament. A carefully constructed rehabilitation programme can address all these issues, restoring strength, balance and mobility to the affected joint. Proper rehabiliation ensure the best possible recovery, and should never be overlooked.
Some types of surgery, in particular cardiac and orthopaedic surgery, require thorough rehabilitation to ensure a good outcome. In these cases, the physiotherapist, surgeon, and any other relevant health professionals all work together to provide a comprehensive approach. Physiotherapy may be aimed at improving cardiovascular condition, reducing pain, improving mobility, reducing swelling, promoting tissue healing, or providing any physical aids that may be necessary on the road to recovery. At all times, the goal is improved function.