The role of rehabilitation (rehab) in physio

If you hear the word ‘rehab’ and immediately think of Amy Winehouse’s catchy hit song, then think again. Rehab in the physio world has nothing to do with popstars or a visit to the Priory, but rather refers to optimising the way a person’s body functions and recovers after an injury, surgery or as part of the management of an ongoing physical condition. More than just a diagnosis, rehab helps you get better after an incident, which is really going back to the basics of what physiotherapy truly is.

What are the benefits of rehab?

Put simply, rehab is designed to speed up a patient’s recovery, improve their mobility and significantly improve their overall quality of life. It goes beyond just reducing pain; rehab programs are instrumental in helping people regain proper movement and rebuild strength in an injured area.

The first step when recovering from either a sudden injury or a surgery that has caused your body some sort of trauma is to try and reduce the acute inflammation and pain, as both of these will be a barrier for commencing your rehab programme.

One of Spectrum’s lead physios, Rob Foyster says, “we’re fortunate to be able to offer patients our unique Game Ready ice/compression unit, which is a huge gamechanger for anyone who is experiencing swelling or pain that would ordinarily hold up the rehab progress.”

The Game Ready system combines a compression treatment with ice therapy via a sleeve that is applied to the part of your body that is recovering. The sleeve simultaneously circulates extremely cold water around the injured area, while also tightening to apply pressure. This has the effect of removing heat and reducing inflammation and pain, which means people who might be tempted to “wait for the swelling to go down” before they seek help from a physio can get started on their formal rehab program much more quickly.

This is crucial, explains Rob, because the sooner you can reduce swelling and mobilise after an incident, the better the recovery and long-term outcomes will be because scar tissue won’t have a had a chance to form yet.

Rehab after a sports injury

After a sports injury, many people think that the most important part of recovery is rest – but depending on the condition sometimes rest on its own will not be enough.

Spectrum’s other lead physio, Ant Brightwell, says that this is commonly seen with an injury like a sprained ankle.

This is a classic example, because a patient will sprain their ankle playing sport or something and instead of coming to see a physio they think they know what’s wrong, so they Google it and it tells them to just rest for three weeks.

Then at the end of the three weeks they aren’t feeling 100% better and that’s because it wasn’t just a sprained ankle – there was more to it. But because they never got an initial diagnosis they have left it untreated for the first three weeks of their potential rehab process.

It’s important to continue to see a physio for the duration of your recovery, even if you are feeling better. As Ant explains, an absence of pain doesn’t necessarily mean that you are fully recovered, particularly if you have been resting for a while in the hope of speeding up your recovery. It’s common that patients may think they have made a full recovery because they’re no longer feeling pain, but then once they start exercising again they find the issue reoccurs.

Physio patient undergoing guided exercise therapy

Rehab after surgery

Spectrum’s physios normally recommend working with a patient pre-surgery to create a prehab programme to set them up to handle the operation as well as possible.

Then, post-surgery or post-operative rehab normally includes a programme of manual therapy and exercise combined. A qualified physio will work with patients to figure out what their specific goals and rehabilitation objectives are (always making sure they are based on their surgeon’s guidelines, of course!) to create a highly personalised recovery programme.

Regardless of whether the goal is as simple as be able to walk normally and without pain again or whether there are a series of more complex goals, like returning to a favourite sport, a physio will work with the patient to achieve them.

Spectrum has a wide range of therapies and experts across multiple areas, all available in the London studio, plus no time limits on appointments, which means Spectrum’s rehab programmes will set a recovering patient up for success like nothing else.

Are you in need of rehab for an injury or after surgery?

Don’t delay! Book a time via our website to see one of our qualified physios.

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