Rehabilitative Exercise includes different types of exercises and activities utilized by your Physical Therapist to help you reach the goals you set for your course of PT. These targeted exercises are at the heart of most PT programs, and will bring about the most long-term changes to your function. Usually, a typical PT session involves a combination of many different types of exercises that fall under the following categories.
Therapeutic Exercise is the basis of what is commonly thought of as Physical Therapy. These exercises are utilized for improving a specific, single parameter for the patient such as strength, flexibility, endurance, and improving joint range of motion. Your therapist will complete a comprehensive evaluation on your initial visit to determine your areas for improvement that will then help them tailor which exercises are right for you to work towards reaching each aspect of your goals. Therapeutic exercise can include the use of different equipment such as free weights, exercise machines, resistance bands, stretching bands, cardiovascular endurance machines, and a variety of other items. Be prepared throughout your course of Physical Therapy for these exercises to evolve and progress right along with you. Commonly, you will receive a Home Exercise Program (HEP) that will provide you with things to work on at home that are in tandem with your goals in Physical Therapy and can include Therapeutic Exercises. Some examples of Therapeutic Exercise are stretches for different muscles, think of a calf stretch or a hamstring stretch targeted towards improving muscle flexibility. Another example can be using free weights or resistance bands for targeting a muscle, such as the biceps, for improving strength. Lastly, another basic example is using a strap following a knee issue to improve the ability to straighten or bend the knee joint. These are just a few small examples to touch the surface of what Therapeutic Exercise in Physical Therapy is.
The basic breakdown of the title Neuromuscular Re-education speaks to “neuro” applying to the brain/spinal cord along with your full body nervous system; “muscular” referring to your skeletal muscle system; and further “re-education” referring to working toward strengthening the connection between both the nervous system and muscular system. This communication between both systems is imperative for normal movement of the body both in specifics joints as well as in relationship to the whole body all together. Neuromuscular Re-education can be thought of as activities that apply to multiple body parts with a focus on improvement in movement, balance, coordination, joint and body position awareness, and/or posture. These items also relate to the problem areas defined on your initial evaluation and relate to the goals that have been set forth for you to achieve the outcomes you desire from your Physical Therapy course of care. Some brief, basic examples of neuromuscular re-education exercises include challenging your balance through standing on one leg, walking like on a tight rope, and cues to help improve your upright posture and alignment.
Therapeutic Activities are exercises used to improve overall functional performance. These can also be defined as different aspects of human movement including bending, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, reaching, grasping, any movement from one position to another, and other dynamic activities you do throughout your day. These movements usually combine strength, flexibility, and joint range of motion to allow for completion of a tasks required to move within your environment. A perfect example is working on transferring from a sitting position to a standing position. This movement involves strength in muscles of the hip, knee, ankle and foot, the ability to move each of those joints to the degrees you need to complete the movement, and the overall process of coordinating and coupling each of those pieces to complete the big picture transfer. This is where your physical therapist with utilize their expertise to break down these bigger movements, determine which piece is a problem, and help you to integrate all of the pieces to complete these actions to reach your goals.