By Alexander Germani
When perusing the latest bestsellers at the bookstore or while unwinding at the end of the day with your favorite mystery author’s latest work, it’s easy to forget just how many people were involved with bringing those written works to publication. The authors certainly did their part, but it’s only after the agents, editors, printers, publishers, and distributors have contributed that the stories can finally be considered complete and ready to be enjoyed.
Physical and occupational therapy are similar to producing those written works. Whether an injured worker, an injured athlete, or any situation where pain is limiting your function at home or the community, it takes a team of professionals to bring that rehab story to fruition.
Director of Therapy at McLean County Orthopedics, Bryan Jasker, PT, DPT, shares how involved therapists should be with writing a patient’s rehab story. “The evaluating therapist, occupational or physical, is involved from beginning to end,” he says. “They are the primary person coordinating the ‘returning-to’ decision alongside parents, spouses, caregivers, other rehab team members, the medical team, and the performance team. The therapist is a major component of recovery and planning the entire way, driving communication and collaboration with other providers and other perspectives into the plan of care to achieve the goals set with the patient.
That approach has been different, historically speaking. Traditionally, therapy would cease at some point at an earlier chapter within a patient’s story of rehabilitation, particularly in a return-to-sport scenario. Now, the process is better integrated with improved transition points and full functional assessments driving exercise prescription until a patient reaches a full functional recovery and can demonstrate safe movement during high performance.
“We may see an athlete before they have surgery,” Bryan says, “and we take them through as much of the assessment as is appropriate at that time to get baseline data.” In the case of a full ACL rupture, for example, that baseline data is collected for both the injured side and the uninjured side. Furthermore, it affords us a better perspective of how they move prior to the surgery and better anticipate their needs after surgery.”
“Then, when we see them post-operatively,” he continues, “our goal at that point is to minimize negative changes, such as muscle atrophy, to all the other parts of the body, in addition to addressing all the specific post-surgical needs. Ideally, we have baseline movement data from screening prior to an injury or surgery, and sometimes this even helps us recommend exercises to mitigate injury risk.”
Ultimately, every decision as to how to progress a patient is writing that rehab story based on objective data collected from a variety of sources and at different points in time throughout their recovery: surface EMG, 3D-motion analysis, force plate analysis, Cellular Respiratory Analytics (CRA) or metabolic testing, Functional Movement Screening (FMS, Y-Balance, SFMA), among others.
“These tests are intermittent throughout their recovery and discussed during biweekly interdisciplinary meetings between the trainers and coaches, a sports-specific rehab team, along with updates to parents, physicians, and other medical staff,” Bryan says.
In the case of the McLean County Orthopedics (MCO) Therapy Department, their proximity to the Training and Performance Center (TPC) enables a safe and effective collaboration between therapists and performance coaches guiding the transition of an athlete from rehabilitation into a performance setting.
“And that’s really a major function of the entire Center — a fully integrated and well-communicated team of interdisciplinary experts,” Bryan says. “Everyone involved is aware of the specific movement problems that this athlete might be having. Everyone is working in the same direction to build confidence and improve athletic performance within a safe environment.”
In regard to the athletes, there are still more people involved. “There’s a benefit to an athlete maintaining connection with their teammates and coaches as they are recovering,” Bryan points out. “Kids want to maintain their role within the team as they’re healing. We encourage them to participate in some capacity early on, even if it’s just being there to support their teammates, which may help with the psychological part of experiencing an injury and the process of recovery. We plan a re-integration of participation over the course of rehab.”
Whether writing a long story of rehab with a goal of returning to a team and shooting for a championship or being able to enjoy a bike ride through the city, the story is not one that has to be written by the patient alone. Trainers, therapists, coaches, parents, nurses, and their physicians will be there for every chapter and every page turned along the way.
For more information on Physical Therapy or any type of orthopedic problem or injury, contact McLean County Orthopedics, 309-663-6461
or visit them online at www.McleanCountyOrthopedics.com.
Their new office is located at 1111 Trinity Lane in Bloomington.