Throughout my time at University and in a sporting setting, I knew that the current approach to treating an injured athlete/person was wrong.
At the core root of the problem is the philosophy behind what we are trying to achieve with the person we are treating. The current approach is rehabilitation where the aim is to reduce pain and protect the injury with a large focus on what the person cannot do. However, research and experience has shown that promoting fear, avoidance and immobility is not an effective way of returning a person to function. Although pain and protection from re-injury are crucial to any program, our philosophy needs to change so that these principles are still incorporated into the program but do not blind us from the end goal.
This end goal/philosophy for me is function.
Put simply, treat the person not the injury. Identify what the highest function that the person in front of you wants to achieve. Once the goal is established, we then work backwards from this goal to ensure that each criterion along the way is working towards the same point. Here is one example I recently encountered:
I was talking to a friend’s mum about her injury. Her passion is swimming and she uses this as an outlet from work and
as a way to feel healthy. I’m not going to go into the details of her injury but it was simply due to overuse and poor mechanics; fixable and preventable issues.
The advice given to her from the health professional was to stop swimming. This is a great example of how rehabilitation focuses on the injury – if you stop performing (the aggravating factor), your shoulder won’t hurt and tada! you are fixed. This also represents how the individual standing in front of you was not considered. For her, not being able to swim took away one of the key activities that made her feel healthy and happy. In my opinion, every action should have been taken to restore function and return her to swimming.
Taking a reconditioning approach over rehabilitation, the goal of returning to swimming is considered first, and a progressive program is designed which works backwards from this goal to ensure that all criteria are met.
At Ludus Sports Performance we subscribe to the reconditioning philosophy, with the end goal of achieving a greater function than prior to injury for all of our clients.