Physiotherapy & Sports Injury

Extracted from PPonline

Physiotherapy plays an integral part in the multi-disciplinary approach to the management of sports injuries. The aim of physiotherapy is to treat and fully rehabilitate the athlete post-injury, post-operatively, to prevent further injury and to return the athlete to sport in the shortest possible time.

Chartered Physiotherapists have a wide range of proven and documented approaches to treatment from which to choose. Prompt assessment and diagnosis is vital in the successful treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries. Athletes suffering from a recent injury or a recurring problem can benefit from the expertise of a specialist team. A multidisciplinary team approach is ideal as cross-referral may take place in order to rehabilitate the ‘whole’ person and not just the injured part.
A detailed history
Injuries can only be successfully treated when the cause of the problem is fully investigated and corrected; therefore, a detailed history is mandatory and a complete posture, gait, and biomechanical assessment must be made. Careful history taking is of the utmost importance to ascertain the location, nature, behaviour and onset of symptoms, etc.

This is followed by a physical examination where a methodological approach is adopted. Sometimes further investigative procedures will be needed to confirm the diagnosis. It is not acceptable to treat symptoms without first establishing the underlying cause. A thorough evaluation of all the factors contributing to the patient’s pattern of symptoms is essential so that a specific treatment plan can be established.
Goals of treatment and rehabilitation
1. Protect the injured tissues to allow healing and to control the early inflammatory phase.

2. Rehabilitate flexibility, strength, proprioception, and muscle imbalance, and control physical activities with the aid of taping and splinting.

3. Sport-specific activities must be tested to ensure the athlete can return to sport safely.

If proper rehabilitation is not undertaken, the athlete may be competing too soon, with residual instability, proprioceptive disturbance and muscle weakness and imbalances. Individual programmes must be planned and implemented for each athlete. This would include sport-specific exercises, adaptation to new postures to correct muscle imbalance, taping and strapping and a home exercise programme.

The athlete must be progressed carefully from one phase to the next, and the criteria for progression are based on function, not time. Sport-specific functional testing is an essential part of moving from one phase of rehabilitation to the next, and finally, to full participation. Overtraining must be very carefully avoided in all of these phases, and training is monitored so that full activity does not occur before fullrecovery has taken place.

It is obvious that prevention is better than cure and the physiotherapist will always advise the patient on how to prevent recurrence of the injury on return to sport. Rose Macdonald

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