Friday, 31 August 2012

When to see a Biokineticist

Many people are still confused as to where Biokinetics fits in to the rehabilitation process and when one should see a Biokineticist. When I first started this blog, I explained that Biokinetics is a form of therapy where exercise is the modality. In other words, exercise is used as a means of treating and managing pathologies, whether acute or chronic. Three main areas exist for which Biokinetics can be used as a form of therapy, namely wellness, orthopaedic injuries, and chronic disease management. I will use examples of each to explain when one should see a Biokineticist.

In the corporate environment, employee wellness programmes are becoming increasingly common. These programmes are used to screen individuals for certain diseases, for example, heart disease, so that appropriate measures can be taken to prevent the disease from occurring. Therefore, the notion of ‘prevention is better than cure’ is the predominant driving force for wellness programmes and Biokineticists play an important role in the screening procedures for these programmes.

Orthopaedic Injuries
Whether acute or chronic, Biokinetics plays an important role in the rehabilitation of any joint, muscle or bone injury. When I say ‘acute’, I am referring to a once-off injury, such as a muscle strain, torn ligament, or joint replacement surgery amongst other things; I am not referring to the acute phase of rehabilitation (this is the physiotherapists’ role). So, if you suffer an acute injury, like a strained muscle or torn ligament, one would first see a physiotherapist who will deal with the acute phase of rehabilitation – reducing inflammation and pain and restoring range of movement. Depending on the severity of the injury, surgery may be necessary, in which case one would see an orthopaedic surgeon and then go for physiotherapy immediately post-surgery. Once pain and inflammation are reduced and range of motion is regained, one should then see a Biokineticist in order to strengthen the muscles surrounding the affected joint to prevent the injury from recurring. The Biokineticist will look at the whole body, not just the affected area, and establish what other factors, such as tight and weak muscles, or poor posture, are contributing to the injury. A specialised exercise therapy regimen will be prescribed in order to correct these weakness and abnormalities, as well as to strengthen the specific muscles surrounding the affected joint to get the person back to their fully functioning capability.
In chronic orthopaedic conditions, such as lower back pain and frozen shoulder, a Biokineticist will also look at the whole body to establish what pre-existing factors are contributing to the condition. The exercise therapy will be focussed on correcting these problem areas, thus assisting in reducing symptoms and managing the condition.

Chronic Disease Management
This refers to conditions such as diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis, amongst others. To date, there are no known cures for these conditions; however, exercise therapy has been shown to assist in managing such conditions by stopping the progression of these diseases. Therefore, as soon as one is diagnosed with such a condition, one should see a Biokineticist so that an appropriate exercise therapy programme can be started immediately, thereby slowing progression. Many people, when diagnosed with a chronic condition, see it as a death sentence and stop doing any form of physical activity, thinking it may cause further damage. Inappropriate exercises can exacerbate symptoms, thus it is essential that a Biokineticist is consulted prior to exercising, to ensure appropriate exercise therapy is prescribed and supervised assistance is given where necessary.

I hope this provides more insight into the significant role Biokinetics plays in the rehabilitation of sports and orthopaedic injuries and the management of chronic diseases. If you want to regain your former level of activity, it is highly recommended that you consult with a Biokineticist after an injury or to cope with a chronic disease.

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