The FIFA World Cup has just ended and a new champion has been crowned! The whole world was spellbound for weeks as world-class footballers put on feats of finesse and agility. Closer home, Hima Das became the first Indian to bag the gold in a track event when she sprinted past the finish line at the World Junior Athletics Championships.
We all love and admire athletes for their success. But while the winners make the headlines, very few people think of the many budding sportsmen who suffer career-ending injuries.
In this article, we’ll look at the various facets of rehabilitation – a very important subject for anyone who hopes to bounce back from an injury.
WHAT IS REHABILITATION?
A simple definition of Rehabilitation is “The restoration of optimal functional and the prevention of structural deformity”. It is a process that is designed to minimize the loss caused by acute or chronic injury and to maximize functional capacity, fitness and performance .The process of rehabilitation should start as early as possible after the injury. If surgery is needed, then rehabilitation measures should be carried out before or after surgical treatment along with a conservative line of treatment.
Here are seven principles that govern any process of rehabilitation:
- AVOID AGGRAVATION : it is important not to aggravate the injury during the rehabilitation process. If the exercise is not administered properly, then there are lots of chances that the injury could not only persist but intensify.
- TIMING: Timing plays an important role in rehabilitation. The therapeutic exercise portion of rehabilitation programme should begin as soon as possible.
- COMPLIANCE: it is important to explain the content and expected course of rehabilitation to the patient because without a compliant patient, the rehabilitation programme will not be successful.
- INDIVIDUALIZATION: Each person reacts differently to the same injury and to the subsequent rehabilitation programme. There could be inherent limitations in the person’s physiology which the therapist must take cognizance of before starting the rehabilitation process.
- SPECIFIC SEQUENCING: A therapeutic exercise program should follow a specific sequence of events.
- INTENSITY: The intensity of the therapeutic exercise programme varies from person to person and depends upon the severity of the injury.
- HOLISTIC: The whole body must be the focus of the rehabilitation program and not just the injured area.
FOUR PHASES OF REHABILITATION:
Rehabilitation can be a long and arduous process. Apart from the physical injury, there are emotional and mental traumas that may need to be dealt with as well. The therapist has to ensure that the rehabilitation process is understood well by the injured person and that he has no unrealistic expectations from it.
- REST – The injured person has to ensure he/she gets adequate rest. This not only means taking time off from regular training for as long as needed but also reducing overall activity level and getting enough sleep.
- RESTORE JOINT MOTION AND MUSCLE FLEXIBILITY – After a period of rest and recuperation, the therapist can start introducing simple exercises without weights to get the joints and tendons to slowly activate. After a period of disuse, muscles can lose their flexibility and before going to the next phase, this can act as a kind of warm-up.
- RESTORE MUSCLE AND STRENGTH POWER – Atrophy can set in pretty quickly when a person is injured and out of action. This phase of rehabilitation aims to help the injured athlete regain strength and power. Starting with very light weights and lower reps/sets, the therapist needs to help the athlete rebuild his body without causing too much stress in the injured body part. This phase could be the longest of all and the therapist would need to provide a lot of encouragement and support to the athlete.
- RESTORE FUNCTION – As strength and power are slowly regained, the athlete can start taking baby steps towards resuming his sport. It does not matter if he was an elite powerlifter before the injury. Post injury, he needs to approach the sport as a novice and start from the ground up if he wants to regain normal function without injuring himself once again. This needs to be done under the strict supervision and guidance of a therapist.
FUNDAMENTAL COMPONENTS OF REHABILITATION:
- Pain management
- Flexibility and joint ROM
- Strength and endurance
- Proprioception and coordination
- Functional rehabilitation
- The use of orthotics
- Psychology of injury
IMPORTANCE OF REHABILITATION
In rehabilitation, a person goes through a process to recover their full function after they have been injured. They are engaged in various types of exercises depending upon the size, type and nature of the injury. Rehabilitation will allow the patient to regain their pre-injury strength, flexibility and balance and can also help them stay injury-free in the future.
Author credits : Sushma Pachouri