What is Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation?

What is Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation?

For those of you who are unsure as to what ‘Rehabilitation’ stands for, this article has been created to educate and increase awareness.

Rehabilitation is defined as ‘the act of restoring something to its original state’. Within our clinic, rehabilitation involves the diagnosis and treatment of the movement system. I believe that impairments in movement and posture often cause symptoms associated with musculoskeletal problems such as pain, sensory change, stiffness, weakness or joint instability. It is our job to diagnose and treat these musculoskeletal problems to restore structures and most importantly their functioning back to their original state. The aim of musculoskeletal rehabilitation is to improve functional capacity, reduce symptoms, and improve the well-being of the patient.

To explain rehabilitation further I have included a case study:

A 25 year old male rugby player came to see me with complaints of pain on the inside aspect of his right knee. This was aggravated by bending the knee, twisting and he had a feeling of instability in the knee complex. After taking a thorough history and undergoing an examination, results showed that the patient had a grade 2 medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain.

The function of ligaments throughout the body is to restrict movement and tell the body where the limbs are in space, through proprioceptive feedback. When ligaments become injured, their function becomes restricted. Therefore, the aim of rehabilitation is to restore ligaments back to full function.

In order to do this, the client underwent a 6 week rehabilitation programme. Rehabilitation follows 4 main stages; restore range of movement (ROM), restore muscle strength, restore proprioception and return to play. Objective and subjective markers are used to analyse if the client is ready to progress to the next stage.

During the first stage, the focus of rehabilitation was to regain an adequate knee bend. Once the client had pain free full ROM, rehabilitation was progressed to incorporate muscle strength. Low stage isometric exercises for the quadriceps and hamstrings were introduced first. When these areas became stronger, functional strengthening exercises were used such as squats, lunges, calf raises and deadlifts. To restore proprioception, balance exercises were used. Therefore the client was given lots of single leg exercises with equipment that stressed the body in different directions. The last stage of rehabilitation for this patient involved returning to rugby. In this stage it was essential to understand the sporting mechanics and stresses the patient would encounter whilst playing at his position. We then developed a position specific exercise regime which he underwent. Before returning to play, the patient had to pass performance stress tests to demonstrate his knee was strong enough to play rugby again. These tests included many end stages activities which will be used in the game environment.

Overall, if the patient had not completed an adequate rehabilitation plan in restricted time scales, the chance or re-injury would have been increased. It is therefore important to follow a plan whilst progressing or regressing exercises dependent on patient feedback and their body.

Conditions which can benefit from rehabilitation include; tendon and muscle tears, sprains, strains, joint dislocations, fractures, back pain and repetitive stress.

If you would like to find out more about how Rehabilitation can help you achieve your activity goals but are not sure about something, contact the clinic and ask to speak to Mazeie so that she can answer any of your questions prior to booking an appointment and help you select the best pathway back to enjoying your physical activities.

/ Rehabilitation

About the Author

Mazeie is a Sports Therapist, Rehabilitator and Massage Therapist working at both Active Health clinics in Bath. Visit Mazeie’s team page to learn more.


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