What are some of the benefits of rehabilitation?
Your physician might write you a prescription for rehabilitation if you’ve recently undergone orthopedic surgery, if you have a chronic degenerative condition — like certain types of arthritis — or if you need to heal after an injury. It might seem inconvenient to head to rehab a few times each week, but it’s essential to your recovery. Rehabilitation helps:
- Prevent blood clots
- Improve joint mobility
- Increase muscle strength
- Improve flexibility
- Restore full range of motion
- Prevent future injuries
How long will I need rehabilitation?
It depends on your needs and how quickly you recover. Most patients start out by coming to rehab two to three times each week for at least a month. As you continue to gain strength and mobility, you can gradually cut back to one to two times per week. You continue to decrease your therapy sessions as you improve. But you should expect to go to rehabilitation appointments from two to six months or longer, in some cases.
Is exercise part of rehabilitation?
Yes, but it’s not the only part. Your rehab plan is tailored to your specific injury, as well as to your progress. In the beginning stages, when you’re in the most pain, you perform passive or static exercises. These are gentle movements made by your therapist, meaning they gently stretch the area for you.
For example, if you recently had rotator cuff surgery your therapist lets you relax while they move your arm around for you. These exercises promote flexibility and mobility, without straining the fragile area. When you’re ready, you start learning some exercises on your own. Your therapist teaches you both flexibility and strengthening exercises, and ensures you have proper form with each movement.
You also work on ways to get back into your normal routine at home and work, while learning tricks to improve pain and inflammation between visits. Each session generally includes some sort of soft tissue treatment such as electrical stimulation therapy, ultrasound, massage therapy, cold laser therapy, or simply applying heat or ice packs to minimize inflammation.