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Chapter 11: Understanding the Basics of Injury Rehabilitation. Therapeutic Exercise Exercise used as part of a rehabilitation program Conditioning Exercise Activities that are used to minimize injury and maximize performance. Philosophy of Athletic Injury Rehabilitation.

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Chapter 11: Understanding the Basics of Injury Rehabilitation

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Chapter 11 understanding the basics of injury rehabilitation

Chapter 11: Understanding the Basics of Injury Rehabilitation

Chapter 11 understanding the basics of injury rehabilitation

  • Therapeutic Exercise

    • Exercise used as part of a rehabilitation program

  • Conditioning Exercise

    • Activities that are used to minimize injury and maximize performance

Philosophy of athletic injury rehabilitation

Philosophy of Athletic Injury Rehabilitation

  • While the majority of injuries do not involve long-term rehabilitation programs, those that do require supervision of highly trained professionals

    • Coach should rely on athletic trainer to design, implement, and supervise rehabilitation

    • Coach is limited in the extent to which he/she can legally be involved in supervising or designing program

Injury rehabilitation cont d

Injury Rehabilitation (cont’d.)

  • Swelling and pain control should be provided immediately

    • Coach can be involved initially in application of first aid

  • Goal of athlete

    • Return to activity as quickly and as safely as possible

  • Must be prudent in decisions regarding aggressiveness of treatment/rehabilitation

    • A mistake in judgment by the individual in charge of the rehabilitation could hinder the athlete’s return

Basic components and goals of a rehabilitation program

Basic Components and Goals of a Rehabilitation Program

  • Must address several basic components

  • Short term goals

    • Provide correct and immediate first aid to control swelling

    • Control pain

    • Restore full ROM

    • Restore core stability

    • Restore and increase strength, endurance and power

    • Re-establish neuromuscular control and balance

    • Maintain levels of cardiorespiratory fitness

  • Long term goal

    • Return to play!

Providing first aid and controlling swelling

Providing First Aid and Controlling Swelling

  • Initial first aid is critical

  • Should be directed towards swelling control

  • Utilize the PRICE principle

    • Each factor is critical in limiting swelling

  • Coach should be capable of providing first aid regardless of whether an ATC is present

Controlling pain

Controlling Pain

  • Some degree of pain will be experienced

  • Pain will be dependent on the several factors

    • Severity of the injury, athlete’s response, perception of pain and the circumstances

  • PRICE and additional modalities can be used to help modulate pain

  • Pain can interfere w/ rehab and therefore must be addressed throughout the rehab process

Restoring range of motion

Restoring Range of Motion

  • Injury to a joint will always be associated w/ some loss of motion

    • Due to contracture of connective tissue, resistance to stretch of musculotendinous unit, swelling, etc.

  • Athlete will need to engage in dynamic, static or PNF stretching activities to improve flexibility

Restore core stability

Restore Core Stability

  • Involves strengthening the lumbopelvic region and is critical for dynamic functional strength and movement

  • Without proximal core stability, distal extremity function become compromised

    • Core strength & power must be emphasized early in the strength training program

Restoring muscular strength endurance and power

Restoring Muscular Strength, Endurance, and Power

  • Among the most essential factors necessary when restoring function of a body part to pre-injury status

  • Variety of techniques can be utilized

    • Isometrics

    • Progressive resistance

    • Isokinetics

    • Plyometrics

  • Emphasize work through a full ROM

Strength endurance and power cont d

Strength, Endurance, and Power (cont’d.)

  • Isometrics

    • Performed in early part of rehab following period of immobilization

    • Used when resistance through full range could make injury worse

    • Increase static strength, work to decrease/limit atrophy, create a muscle pump to decrease swelling

  • Progressive Resistance Exercise (PRE)

    • Can be performed using a variety of equipment

    • Utilizes isotonic contractions to generate force while muscle changes length

    • Concentric and eccentric strengthening exercises should be utilized

Isokinetic exercise

Isokinetic Exercise

  • Incorporated in later stage of rehabilitation process

  • Uses fixed speeds w/ accommodating resistance to provide maximal resistance throughout ROM

  • Speed of movement can be altered

  • Commonly used as part of the criteria for return to functional activity

Plyometric exercise

Plyometric Exercise

  • Incorporated into later stages of program

  • Use quick stretch of muscle to facilitate subsequent concentric contraction

  • Useful in production of dynamic movements

    • Associated with muscular power

    • Generation of force rapidly – key to successful performance in many activities

Re establishing neuromuscular control

Re-establishing Neuromuscular Control

  • Neuromuscular control is mind’s attempt to teach the body conscious control of a specific movement

  • Relies on CNS to interpret and integrate sensory and movement information and then control muscles and joints to produce coordinated movement

  • Re-establishing neuromuscular control requires repetition of same movement, step by step until it becomes automatic (progression from simple to difficult task)

  • Functional exercises are critical for re-establishing control

Regaining balance

Regaining Balance

  • Ability to balance and maintain postural stability is essential to reacquiring athletic skills

  • Program should incorporate functional exercises that involve balance training

  • Failure to include balance training may predispose the athlete to re-injury

Balance cont d

Balance (cont’d.)

  • When balance is challenged the response is reflexive and automatic

  • The primary mechanism for controlling balance occurs in the joints of the lower extremity

  • The ability to balance and maintain it is critical for athletes

  • If an athlete lacks balance or postural stability following injury, they may also lack proprioceptive and kinesthetic information or muscular strength which may limit their ability to generate an adequate response to disequilibrium

  • A rehabilitation plan must incorporate functional activities that incorporate balance and proprioceptive training

Maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness

Maintaining Cardiorespiratory Fitness

  • Single most neglected component of rehabilitation

  • When injury occurs athlete is forced to miss training time which results in decreased cardiorespiratory endurance unless training occurs to help maintain it

  • Alternative activities must be substituted that allow athlete to maintain fitness

    • Put into rehabilitation program as early as possible in rehabilitation program

Functional progressions

Functional Progressions

  • Involves a series of gradually progressive activities designed to prepare the individual for return to a specific sport/activity

  • Sport-specific skills are broken into separate components

    • Athlete works to reacquire skills over time

  • Should be incorporated into treatment as early as possible

    • Athlete’s physical tolerance must be monitored

  • If pain and swelling do not arise, the activity can be advanced -- new activities should be added as quickly as possible

Functional testing

Functional Testing

  • Uses functional progression drills for the purpose of assessing the athlete’s ability to perform a specific activity

  • Entails a single maximal effort to gauge how close the athlete is to full return

  • Pre-season baseline testing for comparison post injury

  • Variety of tests

    • Shuttle runs -Vertical jumps

    • Agility runs -Balance

    • Figure 8’s -Hopping for distance

    • Cariocca tests

Using therapeutic modalities

Using Therapeutic Modalities

  • Incorporated into rehabilitation program as adjuncts to exercise

    • Cryotherapy and thermotherapy

    • Ultrasound and electrical stimulation

    • Massage and traction

  • Require special instruction and supervised clinical experience

  • In absence of ATC coach may opt for simple modalities within scope of expertise

Ice packs bags

Ice Packs (Bags)

  • Used for minimizing swelling and analgesia following injury

  • Ice may be flaked or crushed and will be encapsulated in wet towel or plastic bag

    • Both are easily moldable to body

  • Elastic wrap generally utilized to secure pack in place for 20 minutes

  • Compression and elevation are also used in conjunction with ice

Hot packs

Used post-acutely (after swelling stops)

Has numerous benefits

Increase blood flow

Facilitate reabsorption of injury by-products

Useful as analgesic

Relaxation effects

Be careful not to use too soon in healing process

Cold should be used for first 72 hours post-injury

Hot Packs

Hot Packs

Hot packs cont d

Hot Packs (cont’d.)

Moist heat packs (hydrocollator packs)

Silicate gel in cotton pads

Maintained in thermostatically controlled hot water (160oF)

Retain water and relatively constant heat for 20-30 minutes

Requires the use of 6 layers of toweling to avoid burning patient

Athlete should not lie on top of pack

Hot Packs (cont’d.)



  • Systematic manipulation of soft tissues of the body

  • Involves gliding, compressing, stretching, percussing, and vibrating

    • Produce specific responses in athlete

  • Causes mechanical, physiological and psychological responses

Massage cont d

Massage (cont’d.)

  • Mechanical responses are direct result of graded pressures and movements of the hand on the body

  • Benefits:

    • Encourage lymph drainage

    • Stretch superficial scar tissue

    • Stretch connective tissue (friction massage)

    • Increase circulation – due to increased metabolism

      • Helps to remove lactic acid or edema

      • Assist normal venous blood return to heart

    • Relaxation

Criteria for full return to activity

Criteria for Full Return to Activity

  • Rehab plan must determine what is meant by complete recovery

    • Athlete is fully reconditioned, achieved full ROM, strength, neuromuscular control, cardiovascular fitness and sports specific functional skills

    • Athlete is mentally prepared

  • The decision to return to play should be a group decision (sports medicine team)

    • Team physician is ultimately responsible

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