Rehabilitation is a fact of life for most of us at some point, but it’s particularly important as we get older.
Rehabilitation is care that can help you get back, keep or improve abilities that you need for daily life. These abilities may be physical, mental or cognitive. You may have lost them because of a disease or injury or as a side effect from a medical treatment.
Anybody may need rehabilitation at some point in their lives, whether they have experienced injury, disease, illness or because their functioning has declined with age.
Globally, one in three people today are estimated to be living with a health condition that would benefit from some form of rehabilitation. As people live longer with more chronic disease and disability, the need for rehabilitation will increase in the coming years.
What does rehabilitation with a physiotherapist mean?
Physiotherapy rehabilitation aims to optimise patient function and well-being, to help integrate the patient back into their chosen lifestyle activities whether at home, work or leisure. A physiotherapist will help you to achieve your highest level of function, independence and quality of life possible.
What does a physiotherapist treat?
A physiotherapist treats injury, disease, illness and ageing through physical methods, for example, exercise, massage, manipulation, stretching and other treatments over medication and surgery.
They are trained to help in areas such as neurological, cardiac, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, orthopaedic and oncology rehabilitation.
A physiotherapist can also assist in pre-operative and post-operative care as well as deconditioning in the elderly, incontinence issues and chronic conditions, for example, diabetes and obesity.
How does a physiotherapist help a client with rehabilitation?
There are a range of treatment options depending on the condition to be treated. Some examples are manipulation, mobilisation, resistance training and stretching, exercise programs for muscle strengthening, posture retraining and cardiovascular training.
Treatment may also entail some form of electrotherapy technique or other techniques such as dry needling.
Types of physiotherapy rehabilitation sessions
- Your session could entail a 1:1 session with a physiotherapist where they can ensure that you are performing the exercises correctly so as to keep you safe and get maximum benefit. The session might also involve some form of hands-on treatment, for example massage or joint mobilisation following a knee replacement to gain more range of movement in your knee.
- A physiotherapist can also tailor rehabilitation programs to fit with the outcomes or goals you wish to achieve. At the same time, they will make sure they are a series of exercises designed specifically for you as an individual depending on the area to be treated. The plan will be designed with your preferences and individual circumstances taken into account.
- A home exercise program (HEP) will be given to you by the physiotherapist and some advice on things they would like you to do before your next appointment. At each session the HEP might be adjusted by adding new exercises and increasing the number of exercises you perform.
Can rehabilitation cure me completely?
Rehabilitation does not reverse or undo the damage caused by disease or trauma, but rather helps to restore the individual to optimal health, function and well-being. As physiotherapists, we are here to improve a person’s quality of life using a variety of treatments to alleviate pain and restore function, or if in the case of permanent injury and disease, to lessen the effects of any dysfunction.
When should I start rehabilitation?
You should start rehab as soon as possible after an injury, post surgery, post stroke, after a fall, new diagnosis of disease or even after a hospital stay. If you are planning on having surgery, pre-habilitation is also important for better recovery post-surgery.
What is ‘pre-habilitation’ vs rehabilitation?
Pre-habilitation is either a preventative program or a pre-surgical program to prevent injury, decrease pain and prepare for surgery and includes exercises for general strengthening and conditioning.
Rehabilitation on the other hand is for when something has already gone wrong and is a process that aims to help your recovery. It helps you to get moving again, regain strength, relearn skills or find a new way of doing things.
How long does rehabilitation take and how many sessions do I need a week?
It is difficult to say how long your rehabilitation will take as it all depends on the condition being treated, how chronic the condition is, the response of the person to rehabilitation and how work you are prepared to put into helping the rehab process.
Sometimes rehabilitation is long term, for example in the case of a stroke, but in other situations, it may be short term – for example, in the case of a total hip replacement.
Rehabilitation is a step-by-step process that aims to help your recovery. The set number of times you may need to be seen will be discussed between you and your physiotherapist.
How can The Physio Co (TPC) assist you with your rehabilitation?
At TPC, we work with older Australians to help optimise their function, improve their balance, mobility and quality of life.
We are a team of mobile therapists that come to you, so we take the hassle out of travelling to your rehab appointments.
We aim to keep seniors mobile, safe and happy and are ready to support you on your rehab journey.
Article written by Karleen Scott (Physiotherapist)