The Ultimate Goal of Rehabilitation: Restoring Function and Independence

The final step in the rehabilitation process is to work to restore function. To effectively restore the patient to pre-injury levels of function, it is important to address higher-level capabilities to reduce the risk of re-injury. The last step in rehabilitation is to recover the specific function of sport and return to play. This phase of injury rehabilitation may include restoring coordination and balance, improving speed, agility and sport-specific abilities, moving from simple to complex. Goal setting is a key component of the rehabilitation process, as it helps direct interventions towards a specific outcome or outcomes.

Establishing shared goals can also coordinate members of the multidisciplinary team and ensure that they work together towards a common goal. Objectives can also be used to evaluate the success of rehabilitation interventions, such as limiting tissue damage, relieving pain, controlling the inflammatory response to injury, and protecting the affected area. At this stage of rehabilitation, it's important to avoid pain and swelling, as they can further aggravate the injured area and prevent the body from repairing itself. The need for rehabilitation affects all age groups, although the type, level and objectives of rehabilitation usually vary according to age. People with chronic disabilities, often older people, have different goals than younger people with a temporary disability (such as a fracture or burn).

For example, the goal of an older person who has severe heart failure and has had a stroke may be to regain the ability to perform as many self-care activities as possible. The goal of a younger person who has had a fracture is usually to recover all functions as quickly as possible and to participate in vigorous physical activity. While age alone is no reason to alter the goals or intensity of rehabilitation, the presence of other basal disorders or limitations may be. For example, setting daily and weekly goals in the rehabilitation process that result in a long-term goal, such as returning to play after an injury. The ultimate goal of the rehabilitation process is to limit the extent of the injury, reduce or reverse functional deterioration and loss, and prevent, correct, or completely eliminate disability. Before surgery, a surgeon, prosthetist and physical therapist discuss plans and goals with the person requiring the amputation.

The main goal of inpatient rehabilitation after a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury is for the patient to improve their physical and cognitive function. A meaningful goal can maximize patient participation and motivate them to participate in rehabilitation to achieve their goals. The rehabilitation team works closely with the athlete and coach to establish rehabilitation goals, analyze progress resulting from various interventions, and establish a time frame for athletes to return to training and competition. The fifth and final phase of rehabilitation is to ensure that the athlete has a full functional recovery. Restoring function and independence lost by injury, illness, surgery, stroke or other medical events is one of the main goals of short-term rehabilitation. Therefore, any rehabilitation program must be aligned with the client's personal goals in order for it to be effective; without its “acceptance” it will fail.

Goal setting helps health professionals plan their interventions for what is best or most significant for the patient rather than what is in their own best interest (when there are differences). To achieve this goal you'll work with a multidisciplinary team of rehabilitation professionals to first identify your individual therapy and treatment needs before addressing them through a personalized treatment plan.

Blanche Taboada
Blanche Taboada

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