To start off, we don’t heal patients. Patients heal themselves. As physiotherapists, we are mostly spectators to the natural healing process that is well developed to recover from injury. The body naturally mends itself with scar, stiffness and weakness. Most of the time we heal with little defect but never as good as new. If the injured person can help overcome a few classic barriers we can reduce lingering problems and achieve maximum function.
Ideal function of the mechanical structures of the human body depend on many factors. From the physical perspective, we can highlight four main objectives to optimize healing.
Reduction of injury:
This is the prize and focus of all chronic or recurring problems. Activity modification, strength and endurance training as well as movement retraining exercises can help with this. It is essential to get good sleep, eat and hydrate well.
Encouragement of pain free motion:
We can help with this by advising proper stretching directions and techniques or putting hands on you to guide the joints and muscles to move properly through range. Massage and manual therapy can reduce restrictions to motion.
Encouraging growth of proper scar:
Physiotherapists can guide you through the healing process by putting the right stresses on at the right time to have the body react to the stress and encourage healing the right place. Strengthening, stretching, massage and manual therapy help the scar heal best.
Strengthening the muscles and optimizing neural function:
This is exercise – practiced motion directed at the most relevant limitations. There are many approaches and uses of exercise but the right exercise at the right time works to build smooth pain-free motion that is strong enough to handle your lifestyle. This strategy achieves long term growth and can have lasting changes.
Healing will happen, it is a choice of how far you can direct it to heal to fit your life and needs.
Written by Stan Metcalfe, Physiotherapist