Rehabilitation Medicine is a medical specialty which focuses on the diagnosis, assessment and management of an individual with a disability due to injury or illness . Rehabilitation physicians work with therapists and other clinicians and have expertise in managing a wide range of neurological, orthopaedic and other medical conditions which can lead to disability. This includes management of musculoskeletal injuries, neurological disorders, paediatric rehabilitation, pain syndromes, post-operative rehabilitation, brain and spinal cord injury. They specialise in restoring optimal function to individuals with injuries to bones, muscles, ligaments and the nervous system and a sports medicine centre provides an ideal environment for this. The goal is to restore function and optimise performance in all walks of life.
Regardless of the injury or disability patients are encouraged to engage in activities that help them regain mobility, strength, flexibility, power and stamina. Understanding and managing pain is a key component to achieving effective recovery. Rehabilitation following injury shouldn’t be overlooked, as optimal recovery is often dependent on exercises to heal and strengthen muscles, bones, ligaments, joints and tendons.
Areas that benefit from rehabilitation medicine
We are all individuals with varying responses to different exercises and treatments, so professional medical advice is the first step towards recovery. The nature of the injury and correct diagnosis will assist treating doctors in formulating a recovery program. Common areas treated by rehabilitation medicine include:
- Hip and groin
- Back and spine
- Arms and elbows
- Wrists and hands
Making an accurate diagnosis is the first step in the rehabilitation pathway and this is where the input of rehabilitation physician is important. Further investigations are sometimes necessary in order to achieve this prior to deciding on the optimal rehabilitation strategy.
A rehabilitation physician can then discuss the management options and oversee any treatment program.
Rehabilitation medicine exercises
Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, rehabilitation can be frustratingly slow for active people who want to get back to sports or fitness routines. Physical therapists play a major role in assessing and monitoring the injury during the exercise program to ensure the appropriate balance between healing and strengthening is maintained, and to ensure re-injury doesn’t occur.
Rehabilitation exercises include:
- Resistance exercises
- Bodyweight exercises
These exercises are familiar to most people, but it’s worth knowing that exercises need to be fully understood and monitored when recovering from injury. For example, increasing strength is essential, however, if loads are too heavy the damaged tissue or tendons could suffer further injury. The result will be a delayed recovery or even long-term pain and disability. The assistance of professionals will save time and money in the long run.
Dr Seamus Dalton
Rehabilitation Physician and Sports Physician
Seamus Dalton is qualified as both a Rehabilitation Physician and a Sports Physician. He also spent a year as a Rheumatology Research fellow in Cambridge where he developed his clinical and research interest in the shoulder. Read more