Tips for effective rehabilitation
Rehabilitation is absolutely essential in restoring normal activity after an injury or painful event, as part of chronic pain management, improving one’s ability to be active and following an operation or other medical procedure. The programme should be individualised, progressive and be appropriate for the goals of the individual, i.e. functional for work, sport and other activities. The following tips are ways of really enhancing the process of rehabilitation, drawing upon some of the most recent understanding in neuroscience and cognitive science.
In no particular order:
1. Ensure that you have set goals related to your objectives. Follow the SMART procedure.
2. Keep a rehabilitation or training diary so that you can tick off your exercises and feel good about it as well as mark off goals when they have been achieved.
3. The programme should start at a baseline determined with the help of your health professional. This is the start point from where you move forwards.
4. The programme should be progressive, fitting with your goals, looking to challenge and move forwards but without causing unnecessary flare-ups.
5. Flare-up management should involve understanding what it is, how it can be managed effectively and used as a learning experience.
6. Rehabilitation should include components of education, motor control, proprioception, functional exercise, strength, endurance and posture. Other aspects can be power, speed, agility, work and sports specific tasks.
7. Understand realistic time lines that includes the healing process so that you know what to expect and where you are along the line of recovery. You should ask your health professional to keep you updated on this point.
8. Vary the tasks when you can. By the nature of rehabilitation you have to repeat the exercises, in some cases very often. This is because in essence there is a learning process going on and it takes time, just like learning a language or musical instrument. Changing the context can help to keep the interest.
9. Gaining feedback is really important. This can come from an observer or a mirror. Mirrors are brilliant rehabilitation tools as the brain uses visual feedback over sensory feedback and therefore can help to correct movement patterns. Mirror therapy is a different approach that can be used in certain conditions with good effect when used appropriately by a trained practitioner, for example in stroke victims, phantom limb pain, complex regional pain syndrome and other painful conditions.
10. Using cognitive and motivational techniques has a huge effect and can make a really significant difference to the outcomes. Again this requires an appropriately trained and knowledgeable practitioner who can integrate these methods into the programme. Targeting the brain is a very powerful way of maximising potential. Techniques include awareness, assessing beliefs, education, goal setting and mindfulness.
11. Set up the environment to promote concentration, focus and awareness
These factors and others are fundamental to a successful rehabilitation programme. Enhanced programmes make a difference as they draw upon not just the physical parameters such as altered movement, pain, the healing process and altered neurodynamics, but also the integration of senses, past experience, cognition, immune function, stress, anxieties and other psychological states, personality, culture, understanding and a host of other human characteristics. Looking at rehabilitation in a wider sense is complicated, takes time and understanding, however by drawing upon the knowledge of brain and nervous system function, immune activity, tissue healing and other bodily systems, we can create bespoke, challenging, progressive and fun programmes that maximise potential.
Rehabilitation programmes at Specialist Pain Physio Clinics are thought out based on your experience, presentation and the requirements that you identify. We constantly strive to update our methods by keeping abreast of research and science. Follow the blog and our Twitter page to learn more.