The Southeastern Spine Institute

Is It Physical Therapy on Steroids?

Functional rehabilitation extends the traditional elements of physical therapy. By using exercises designed to imitate the movement patterns that you use in your day-to-day life, functional rehab restores proper movement patterns. It also improves the coordination between your nervous system and your muscles.

Many spine experts recommend functional rehabilitation as a way to speed up a return to work. After an injury or surgery, functional rehab gets you back to your usual activities as quickly as possible. The physical therapists at Southeastern Spine Institute implement a functional rehabilitation program to:

  • Accelerate your recovery
  • Improve your overall physical performance
  • Prevent future injuries

Is Functional Rehabilitation Only for Athletes?

Functional rehabilitation has typically been applied to sports medicine. For example, functional rehabilitation programs move athletes from simple activities like walking or jogging to the complex sport-specific movements that require high levels of acuity. But this form of physical therapy also benefits individuals returning to work or to the basic activities of daily living after physical or neurological injuries, such as strokes.

Functional rehabilitation combines various techniques to give you the physical acumen and confidence to do what you need to do, whether that’s a specific job or day-to-day activities. Strength, flexibility and agility training prepare you to return to a full range of motion. Along with the traditional elements of physical therapy, such as strength and flexibility training, a functional rehabilitation program includes:

  • Proprioceptive, kinesthetic and agility training so you can participate in activities at pre-injury levels
  • Training that’s focused on the coordination of specific parts of your body
  • Training to reduce the risk of recurrent injury, mostly to raise your body awareness and posture

What Are the Benefits of Functional Rehabilitation?

You begin functional rehab as soon as your injury recovery allows. With this type of physical therapy, your rehabilitation usually follows a multi-phase program of progressive steps, beginning with controlling inflammation and pain, to restoring motion, finally to developing muscle strength, power and endurance. The benefits of functional rehabilitation include:

  • Better muscle memory because it engages your muscles with repetitive, functional exercises
  • Higher endurance because it helps build cardiovascular stamina while improving endurance during high-intensity activities like weightlifting or running
  • Improved posture and balance by engaging the core to help keep your spine in proper alignment
  • Less joint pain because it strengthens the joints and prevents overuse to alleviate pain and restore joint mobility
  • Improved flexibility by retraining your muscles to become more flexible, significantly reducing the chances of reinjury while alleviating pain and discomfort

In functional rehabilitation, you use three-dimensional movements to strengthen isolated, previously injured muscles. The process prepares your whole body to return to daily activities or sports. You come away from functional rehab stronger and more flexible.

How Does Functional Rehab Work?

In this physical therapy process, the physical therapist assesses your current level of function by examining your posture, balance, reflexes, muscle control, gait and body stabilization during both rest and motion. You go through tests to check the range of motion of your joints and any problems or deficiencies that may have contributed to the original injury.

Then your physical therapist takes a medical history to learn about your previous injuries, treatments and recoveries. Occasionally, imaging tests are ordered to confirm a diagnosis, but if you’re at the Southeastern Spine Institute, your doctors already know the diagnosis. After checking which positions or movements reduce or increase pain, a functional rehabilitation program can be developed especially for you.

If you’ve had a back injury or a spinal procedure, you want to improve your strength, coordination and flexibility, back to where it was before. Begin a functional rehabilitation program at the Southeastern Spine Institute. The physical therapy department has the experience and equipment to get you on the right track.