What is musculoskeletal rehabilitation?

A musculoskeletal rehabilitation program is a doctor-supervised program designed for people with impairments or disabilities due to disease, disorders, or trauma to the muscles or bones. Musculoskeletal rehabilitation programs can often improve functional capacity, reduce symptoms, and improve the well-being of the patient.

What conditions can benefit from musculoskeletal rehabilitation?

Some of the conditions that may benefit from musculoskeletal rehabilitation may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Amputation

  • Knee and Achilles tendon injuries

  • Tendon tears, such as achilles tendon injuries and tears of the rotator cuff in the shoulder

  • Trauma injuries, such as sprains, strains, joint dislocations, and fractures

  • Back pain

  • Osteoporosis

  • Arthritis

  • Bone tumors

  • Repetitive stress injuries, such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Joint injury and replacement

The musculoskeletal rehabilitation team

Musculoskeletal rehabilitation programs can be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Many skilled professionals are part of the musculoskeletal rehabilitation team, including any or all of the following:

  • Orthopedist/orthopedic surgeon

  • Neurologist/neurosurgeon

  • Physiatrist

  • Internist

  • Other specialty doctors

  • Rehabilitation specialists

  • Registered dietitian

  • Physical therapist

  • Occupational therapist

  • Social worker

  • Exercise physiologist

  • Psychologist/psychiatrist

  • Recreational therapist

  • Case manager

  • Chaplain

  • Vocational counselor

The musculoskeletal rehabilitation program

A musculoskeletal rehabilitation program is designed to meet the needs of the individual patient, depending on the specific problem or disease. Active involvement of the patient and family is vital to the success of the program.

The goal of musculoskeletal rehabilitation is to help the patient return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of life--physically, emotionally, and socially.

In order to help reach these goals, musculoskeletal rehabilitation programs may include the following:

  • Fitting and care for casts, braces, and splints (orthoses), or artificial limbs (prostheses)

  • Exercise programs to improve range of motion, increase muscle strength, improve flexibility and mobility, and increase endurance

  • Gait (walking) retraining and methods of safe ambulation (including the use of a walker, cane, or crutch)

  • Help with obtaining assistive devices that promote independence

  • Patient and family education and counseling

  • Pain management

  • Stress management and emotional support

  • Nutritional counseling

  • Ergonomic assessments and work-related injury prevention

  • Vocational counseling

Medical Reviewer: [ Daphne Pierce-Smith MSN FNP RN CCRC, Joy Fincannon RN MN, Kelley Gaskin RN MN, Louise Akin RN BSN, Nancy Bowers RN MPH RN MPH, Sara Foster RN MPH, Debra Cohen RN BSN, Lee Jenkins] Copyright: Copyright © 2007 Staywell Content Services, Inc. except where otherwise noted.

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